Latvian carrier airBaltic carried 3.2 million passengers during the first nine months of 2018, up 18% year-over-year (YOY). For full-year, the carrier forecasts it will transport 4 million passengers, up from 3.5 million YOY, airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss told ATW.

From January-September, the number of flights increased 12% YOY.

“We can expect to also see passenger growth for the remainder of the year,” he said. “But airBaltic should have to increase the number of passengers, because [a bigger] size helps the carrier regarding economics of scale.”

The nine-month load factor dropped 1% to 77% YOY.

For the coming winter season, airBaltic will continue to fly to such destinations as Lisbon, Malaga, Madrid and Nice, as well as reintroduce seasonal Riga-Abu Dhabi (UAE) services. “Our Abu Dhabi flight has been a great success. But regarding additional destinations in the Middle East, like Dubai, we have nothing planned,” Gauss said.

AirBaltic serves more than 70 destinations from Riga, Tallinn (Estonia) and Vilnius (Lithuania). Next summer, the airline will launch new Riga-Stuttgart (Germany) services.

Asked how many new destinations could be possible, Gauss said there are “no limits on new destinations for us. Look to the Italy market as an example. There are so many airports to follow. We don’t fly even to Florence today. Or we could increase our frequencies to Rome.”

AirBaltic operates a fleet of 13 Airbus A220-300s, 11 Boeing 737-300/500s and 12 Bombardier Q400s.

Kurt Hofmann