Monday, July 11, 2011

airBaltic Riga Base 2011

Two years ago I took a close look how airBaltic had transformed its Riga base from point-to-point strategy in 2007 to a genuine hub in 2009. Now it’s time to find out how things have evolved since then.
It’s clear that the hub strategy has not changed. Almost all aircraft operations can be divided in 5 groups: group 1 in morning, group 2 in afternoon, group 3 in evening, group 4 late at night, group 5 also at night but with earlier departure and later arrival than group 4.
Anyway there are some details that have changed:
  1. Almost all Nordic routes have gathered in group 5. In 2009 Oulu was operated in group 2, Alesund in group 3 while now both of them and also some new destinations are in group 5.
  2. Billund - previously group 3 destination - now have altering group 1 and 3 operations.
  3. Group 2 – the important daytime operations to mayor European cities – has sprawled. Both backwash and uprush windows are longer due to the new service to Madrid and rearranged timings for some Baltic flights. Berlin and Stockholm daytime operations are no longer in group 2. Instead two flights are made.
  4. Second daily flights to Paris and Amsterdam have joined London in group 3.
  5. Some clustering has happened in departure times for flights within one geographic region. For example – group 5 flights to Kalinigrad, Palanga, Tartu and Kaunas all depart at 8.20pm.

Overall the hub operation strategy is little bit clearer and still is the lifeline of airBaltic. Unfortunately flights to Visby to be cut this month, yet not really a surprise as they did not fit in any flight group so transfer possibilities were too limited. As for future – the arrival and departure times for group 2 should be kept under control – no more too far destinations like Madrid. It would actually make sense to swap Dublin and Madrid flight times. Long arrival and departure frames make transfer longer if traveling between close cities where majority of the traffic lies. There should not be routes operated only in group 1 or in group 3 – they rather must be operated in some other group or using altering pattern like Billund does. It’s similar to the mixed-up schedule pattern for p2p carriers I proposed earlier. And there should not be new routes from weak destinations operated out of hub pattern. In contrast - there may be strong routes with high frequencies that go out of the hub frame - like many current departures to Helsinki, Vilnius and Tallinn.


  1. Brilliant analysis! Would you mind putting those circles in higher resolution? Many airport names are not readable...

  2. Thank you. It must be bit better now.