Air Baltic has experienced longer-than-expected maintenance delays for its Pratt & Whitney PW1500G geared turbofans (GTFs) on Airbus A220-300s, as supply-chain and labor challenges impact the MRO sector. However, the airline anticipates an improvement in the situation.

Air Baltic CEO Martin Gauss praised the GTF's performance while highlighting the ongoing issue of spare engine availability. The airline has faced challenges in securing summer capacity due to MRO delays, resulting in additional wet-leased aircraft agreements.

Gauss revealed that engines are taking up to a year to be ready for maintenance, rather than the usual 60-90 days. The delays are due to a lack of spare parts and labor at the maintenance provider.

However, Gauss remains optimistic that the situation will improve significantly, with Pratt & Whitney and Airbus maintaining clear communication on the issue. He expects problems for Air Baltic to persist into 2024.

Pratt & Whitney anticipates that supply chain pressures will ease later this year, enabling increased output of new and overhauled engines. In the meantime, the company is providing logistical support to suppliers and developing solutions to improve engine durability.

Gauss explained that Air Baltic's vulnerability to engine availability challenges stems from factors such as having a large fleet of A220s, having operated the aircraft for a longer time, and being a smaller carrier with limited options for grounded aircraft.

Many other carriers have also reported MRO delays, especially for the latest-generation technology. To maintain its flight schedules and honor wet-lease deals with other carriers, Air Baltic is resorting to short-term wet-leases.