Pratt engine issues improving but shortages to continue until 2024 – airBaltic

Pratt engine issues improving but shortages to continue until 2024 - airBaltic

Shortages of Pratt & Whitney Engines Ease for Airbus A220 Jets, but Disruption Continues

Airbus A220

The shortage of Pratt & Whitney engines for Airbus A220 passenger jets has started to ease, according to Martin Gauss, the CEO of airBaltic, the second-largest operator of A220s. However, Gauss also noted that it will still take around 18 months before the disruption is lifted altogether. This news comes after a recall of Geared Turbofan engines for larger Airbus A320s caused havoc in the aircraft industry last month. Fortunately, the recall does not affect the A220, which was the first aircraft to use these fuel-saving engines.

While the shortage of spare engines for the A220 has improved, operators are still grappling with durability issues and maintenance bottlenecks that have resulted in a reduced supply of working engines. This has led to dozens of planes being grounded, impacting the operations and profitability of airlines like airBaltic. Gauss revealed that on average, 11 of airBaltic’s A220s were out of action during the first half of the year, hindering the airline’s efforts to improve its earnings amid a surge in air travel demand.

The durability issues faced by A220 engines are not as severe as those seen on the larger A320 in hot and dusty climates. Nonetheless, airBaltic has been forced to wet-lease replacement aircraft, complete with crew and insurance, to maintain its schedules. Gauss, however, expressed optimism that the trend of Unexpected Engine Removals is declining significantly following a recent modification involving a change of oil pipe. He hopes that by the end of 2024, the airline will have zero missing engines.

Despite the ongoing disruptions, airBaltic reported a net profit of 14.6 million euros in the first half of this year, a significant improvement from a loss of 91.0 million euros in the same period last year. The airline’s revenues also grew by 52% to reach a record of 291.3 million euros. However, airBaltic acknowledged that the shortage of spare engines significantly impacted its performance in the second quarter.

Reflecting the rebound in air traffic following the pandemic, airBaltic achieved a significant milestone in July by carrying over 500,000 passengers in a single month for the first time since 2019. This positive trend in passenger numbers further emphasizes the need for airlines to address the engine shortage promptly.

Looking ahead, airBaltic is in talks with Airbus to potentially acquire 30 more A220s as the airline prepares for a possible IPO next year. These additional aircraft will help airBaltic expand its operations and further capitalize on the recovering demand for air travel.

In conclusion, while the shortage of Pratt & Whitney engines for Airbus A220 jets is gradually being resolved, the disruption is likely to persist for the next 18 months. Nevertheless, airBaltic and other A220 operators remain optimistic that the situation will improve as more engines become available. The airline industry’s recovery from the pandemic has created substantial demand for air travel, and addressing the engine shortage is crucial to ensuring seamless operations and sustainable profitability for airlines like airBaltic.