In a statement: “The last few months have been very difficult for our company. For a long period of time, necessary decisions by the shareholders had not been taken, until the situation was resolved today. As an owner and for the sake of airBaltic, I have agreed to step down, as the agreement between the shareholders does so require, for the future of the airline.
airBaltic has been my “child”, and I have been with the airline from the very beginning. I advised the Government of Latvia on the establishing of the airline in the mid-90ies, followed by a number of turbulent years on the supervisory board of which I was chairman till 2002. In 2002, I became the CEO of airBaltic and over the last almost 10 years, I have mainly built up an excellent management team and together we have created an excellent and award-winning company.
Some of the hallmarks of airBaltic are the outstanding operational performance, an organisation, which lives safety and the wish to constantly improve, what we are doing. We have developed from a small, expensive airline in 2002, to one of the leaders in innovation, and market leaders in Northern Europe. The environment is highly competitive, airBaltic therefore has to constantly adapt and improve. I am proud of the operational excellence, the spirit of the people and the general success of airBaltic.
When I started in 2002, we were a small business. We knew each aircraft, the pilot’s wardrobe was opposite my office, and we saw each other in the hallway. The network comprised 6 routes and we had 5 aircraft in operation. AirBaltic was a truly traditional carrier. But times had changed, low-cost airlines came to the market and challenged our way of doing business. As a customer, I also didn’t like the traditional airline, because I didn’t understand their pricing, their special offers and the necessity for such complexity combined with a know-everything attitude. I think, at the time, the passenger didn’t really matter so much. Today in airBaltic, it is all about the customer, communication, operation, network, pricing and service. The change has come slowly, but it sits deep. Today, at every time of the day an airBaltic aircraft is in the air, from Tashkent, Barcelona up to Northern Norway. Today, we are everything, but not traditional.
AirBaltic contributes about EUR 250 million to the Latvian economy annually, the largest exporter of services and the major carrier at Riga Airport, and by far the leading carrier in the Baltic region. Over 4000 workplaces are related to airBaltic operations in Riga. The economic crisis in the Baltics and the emigration from Latvia have left a deep mark on the airline market in the region. AirBaltic will have to reinvent itself again and it will succeed.
I would like to thank the people in airBaltic for their work and commitment, for many, their job is not just a job. I would like to thank the countless people, who have made this airline fly, the first President Kjell Fredheim, our Supervisory Board Members Lars Lindgren, Gunnar Reitan and Edmunds Krastins, Arnis Muiznieks from the Aviation Department at the Ministry of Transport, Maris Gorodcovs from our CAA, Talis Linkaitis and Janis Naglis from the Privatisation Agency and… and… and…, a shame I can’t mention them all. I would also like thank our dear passengers for flying with us and I hope, we serve you well.”
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