Interview with AirBaltic’s CEO: Mr. Martin Gauss - Aviation for Aviators
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Interview with AirBaltic’s CEO: Mr. Martin Gauss



AirBaltic is one of Europe’s key airlines and the flag carrier of Latvia, also serving destinations for Estonia and Lithuania. The company carries millions of passengers per year and is one of the largest operators of the Airbus A220. I put some questions to the CEO of AirBaltic: Mr. Martin Gauss.

What do you see as the biggest challenge to the aviation industry at the moment?

“Currently, the largest challenges in the aviation industry are supply chain issues, rising fuel and other costs, as well as fluctuating exchange rates. In addition, the ongoing war in Ukraine continues to impact airBaltic and its flight operations – due to the closer airspace, the airline cannot perform flights to and from Russia and Ukraine, therefore losing its biggest transfer traffic to the home base in Riga. “

airBaltic recently decided to equip its fleet with SpaceX’s starlight connectivity system; why was this decision made?

“Having the most modern and environmentally friendly aircraft in the airline’s fleet, it was the next logical step for airBaltic to implement the most modern available inflight internet solution on this fleet. airBaltic is excited to improve its service and to soon become the first airline in Europe to launch high-speed, unlimited, and free-of-charge satellite internet on board its flights in Europe and beyond.”

AirBaltic: Mr. Peter Gauss
The airline wants to equip its fleet with StarLink for free high-speed connectivity for its passengers. (Image credit: airBaltic)

What are you doing to lessen the environmental impact of airBaltic’s aircraft?

“Since May 2022, airBaltic operates a single-type fleet of solely Airbus A220-300 aircraft, and it is currently the greenest commercial aircraft in the skies. The aircraft is considerably quieter – with a four times smaller noise footprint. Moreover, it is the first aircraft to have a transparent declaration of the life-cycle environmental impact, helping to reduce CO2 and NOX emissions by 20% and 50% respectively.”

What lessons did airBaltic learn from the pandemic?

“The main lesson from the pandemic for airBaltic and most likely the aviation industry as a whole is the need to be agile and flexible when facing unprecedented challenges. “

With airBaltic being one of the largest operators of the A220, including having a fleet solely made up of them, why was the decision made to do this instead of using a multi-aircraft fleet?

“Having a single type fleet, benefits airBaltic in many different ways. In addition to this aircraft type being the greenest commercial aircraft available, it also benefits the airline in terms of crew training and aircraft maintenance. airBaltic is a proud ambassador of the A220-300 and over the years, the aircraft has performed beyond the company’s expectations, delivering better overall performance, fuel efficiency, and convenience for both passengers and the staff. “

AirBaltic: Mr. Peter Gauss
(Image credit: Wikipedia)

airBaltic has recently been operating flights to Ukraine to help with efforts there, such as delivering mail, is this kind of work important to the company?

“Since April 2022, airBaltic has been providing cargo operations from Ukraine by organizing a multimodal mail transportation system in cooperation with Ukrposhta, the national postal service of Ukraine. Until September of last year, airBaltic has already carried a total weight of over 400 tonnes of mail from Ukraine to various destinations.

airBaltic is pleased and honored that the airline and Ukrposhta have become very important partners. Such work is important for airBaltic, and the airline continues to do its utmost to help the Ukrainian nation, and airBaltic’s hearts and thoughts are with the brave Ukrainian people.”

AirBaltic: Mr. Peter Gauss
The airline has been helping with war efforts in Ukraine and held a pre-war partnership with Ukraine International Airlines (image credit:

And finally, what can we see in the near future for airBaltic?

“This year, airBaltic will launch 18 new destinations from Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius. This is the largest amount of destinations which airline has ever announced at the same time. airBaltic continues to be the largest carrier in the Baltics, providing vital connectivity to and from the region.

In addition, airBaltic will soon equip its entire fleet with Starlink in-flight internet, developed by SpaceX. Every passenger will benefit from complimentary, high-speed internet during airBaltic flights.”

Cover Image Credit:


Sam Jakobi is a young aviation enthusiast based in London, UK. Sam writes articles and conducts interviews with members of the aviation community.


An interview with LATAM airlines’ Chief Commercial Officer, Marty St. George



LATAM airlines is the largest airline in South America, dominating the South American aviation market with over 41 million passengers being transported by the airline between January and July this year. Their route network is extremely diverse, with destinations ranging from Ecuador to Easter Island several other European, North American, African, South American and Oceanian cities. After the airline has been recovering from the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as developing Sustainable aviation within the airline, I put a few questions to Marty St. George, their Chief Commercial Officer.

(Image credit: Simple Flying)

What is LATAM doing to reduce the environmental impact of their aircraft?

As LATAM Airlines, our commitment to sustainability is reflected in various initiatives
aimed at reducing the environmental impact and promoting responsible practices. All
of them are aligned with the ambitious goals we have established which include
carbon neutrality by 2050, eliminating single-use plastics by 2023, and becoming a
zero waste-to-landfill group by 2027. In this context, recently we achieved one of our
milestones, which was carrying out our first ferry flight with SAF; to deliver a new
A320neo. The flight utilised a fuel blend containing 30% SAF produced from used
cooking oil.

Also, at LATAM we have initiated various circular economy projects to minimise
waste onboard and promote recycling. These are: the replacement of single-use
plastics with organic materials, for example using sugar cane for packaging lids, so
far we have managed to eliminate 88% of single use plastics on board; The “Recycle
your trip” programme that promotes the segregation of certain waste generated in
the on-board service to be subsequently recycled, on domestic flights in Chile, Brasil,
Perú, Colombia, & Ecuador; The “Segundo Vuelo” (Second Flight) programme, in
which South American craftswomen and entrepreneurs transform the airline’s
uniforms and various unused textile items, giving them a second life.


Lastly, it is also worth mentioning that LATAM’s cargo division is also working on
sustainability initiatives which have been recognized by IATA with the Air Cargo
Innovation Award for the plastic reduction projects in the cargo operations in Chile
and Brazil.”

LATAM have been renewing their fleet recently, however mostly with Airbus aircraft in the short-haul sector, is it likely that with the arrival of the MAX into the scene that Boeing might be able to sneak into this area?

We have strong relationships with both Boeing and Airbus. While we have focused
on renewing our short-haul fleet with Airbus aircraft, our decisions are driven by
various factors, including unit cost and complexity, passenger comfort, and
environmental impact. As of now, we prefer the cost efficiency of an all-Airbus
short-haul fleet.

LATAM’s short haul fleet is mostly compromised of the Airbus A320 Family (Image credit: AeroTime)

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the Aviation industry at the moment?

“I believe that one of the most significant challenges facing aviation is the
decarbonization of the industry, and within this, the use of sustainable aviation fuel.
The limited quantity of SAF, due to the lack of necessary conditions for their
research, development and production, hinders the achievement of this major
objective of our industry.
Access to SAF in Latin America continues to be one of the major challenges faced
by the various actors seeking to use this type of fuel produced within the region.
South America has great potential to produce SAF in terms of natural resources and
expertise and thus make a very significant contribution to climate action. That is why,
as a South American airline group, we put all our efforts to provide visibility to this
issue. We have been working to incorporate 5% sustainable fuel by 2030, favoring
South American producers.”

LATAM airlines took delivery of their First A320 Neo Using sustainable aviation fuel earlier this year

At the moment, in some of the countries which LATAM serves, there are only a few destinations in the US, given developing relationships with Delta, is this likely to change?

Our partnership with Delta Air Lines has already expanded our reach in the United
States, providing passengers with enhanced connectivity and more travel options, as
well as improving the travel experience of both our passengers and cargo customers
by offering them new benefits, including an enhanced service. As our collaboration
continues to evolve, we will explore opportunities to strengthen connections between
our networks and potentially introduce new destinations that cater to customer
demand. We have already introduced nonstop service between Sao Paulo and
Delta’s hub in Los Angeles, and on October 29th, we are launching a new daily
service between Miami and Medellín, and Bogotá to Atlanta. On that same day, we
will also introduce three weekly flights between Lima and Delta’s Atlanta hub.”

(Image credit: Delta)

What lessons did LATAM learn from the COVID-19 pandemic?

“The pandemic was a defining moment for the aviation industry. LATAM learned the
importance of agility, adaptability, and resilience. We accelerated our digital
transformation to meet changing customer expectations and focused on safety
measures to ensure passenger confidence. The crisis also reinforced the
significance of collaboration with partners, governments, and health authorities in
managing unprecedented challenges.”

And finally, what can we see in the near future for LATAM?

“As the only global airline based in South America, we are devoted to connecting our
home continent to the world.
In the near future, LATAM Airlines will continue to prioritize sustainability, innovation,
and enhancing the passenger experience. We’re dedicated to furthering our fleet
renewal efforts, exploring new partnerships, and expanding our network to better
serve our customers.”

(Image credit: Airline Geeks)

Cover Image credit: Bloomberg

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Airlines of the World

An interview with Helvetic Airways CEO, Tobias Pogorevc



Helvetic Airways is a Swiss airline which operates its fleet of Embraer aircraft to destinations such as Greek islands and the Egyptian Red sea coast from their hubs in Switzerland. Their CEO, Tobias Pogorevc, has been in charge of the company since 2018 and overseen major developments such as the introduction of the Embraer E195 E2 and E190 E2 to their fleet. I put some questions to the man himself about the environment and the pandemic.

What do you see as the biggest challenge to the aviation industry at the moment?

One of the biggest challenges in the entire aviation industry is the staff situation. The pandemic
disrupted the entire aviation ecosystem and the situation is still very tense in the personnel area – both
on the ground and in the air. Helvetic Airways was able to counteract the natural fluctuation in the
cabin through early recruitment measures. In addition, as of the beginning of 2023, Helvetic Airways
has significantly expanded its existing and very popular part-time models for cabin crews, and now
offers various innovative models with “Fly your way”, in which cabin attendants can determine their
own assignments on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. Today, we employ over 240 flight attendants
and senior flight attendants in the cabin crew – more than ever before in the history of Helvetic
In the cockpit, we benefit from the good and long-standing cooperation with our sister company
Horizon Swiss Flight Academy. From this pool, we were able to recruit 24 pilots this year.
Another challenge relates to supply chains, from carpet suppliers to engine manufacturers. This will
keep the industry busy for a long time to come.

(Image credit: Aviator Newsroom)

How are you lessening the impact of Helvetic’s aircraft?

Helvetic Airways has renewed almost its entire fleet between 2019 and 2021 and now has 12 state-of-
the-art Embraer E2s – eight E190-E2s with 110 seats and four E195-E2s with 134 seats – and four
Embraer E190s. Helvetic Airways thus operates one of the most modern regional jet fleets in Europe
and the most modern fleet in Switzerland. The Embraer-E2 is currently the most environmentally
friendly regional aircraft on the market. Compared to the E1, the E190-E2 consumes 20 to 23% less
fuel per seat on European routes and the E195-E2 up to 30% less. Our own measured values are
even higher than Embraer’s factory specifications.

The E2 also sets new standards in terms of noise emissions, impressing in particular with its low noise
levels both inside the cabin and outside. The noise diagrams for departures from Zurich Airport show:
The noise contour of the Embraer E195-E2 is 28% lower than for the Airbus A319 and 60% lower than
for the Airbus A320. Particularly for airports near densely populated areas, the ability to reduce the
noise impact on people is an important factor.


What lessons did you learn from the pandemic?

In aviation, crisis situations are regularly trained for, but no one was prepared for a global crisis like the
Corona pandemic. We kept all our crews current during the pandemic so that we would be ready when
business picked up again. In retrospect, that was absolutely the right decision. But then the restart
happened faster than expected. On the one hand, we all had to get back to the “old normal” as quickly
as possible; on the other hand, the pandemic was not yet over – a balancing act that placed enormous
demands on the entire industry.
The pandemic showed us that even when things are at a standstill, you always have to keep moving.
As an airline with lean structures, we have the opportunity to implement new ideas and innovations
quickly, which proved its worth during the restart after the pandemic.

(Image credit: Aviation24be)

How is the Russo-Ukrainian war affecting Helvetic Airways’ business?

The Ukraine war and the fates associated with it are terrible but have no immediate impact on us as a
regional airline from an operational point of view. Our routes do not pass over Russian or Ukrainian
territory, which may not be flown over at present. What we do feel, however, are the indirect effects of
the war, for example on the fuel prices.

You have been CEO of the company since 2018, what has been the biggest change you have seen in the company since you became in charge?

On the one hand, as a small, private company, the fleet renewal to an E2 fleet has been very busy for
us. It is something special that we, as a niche player, can rely on the most modern fleet. But this is
only possible thanks to the financial strength of our owner, which got us through the Covid crisis even
without government aid. Today, we are financially strong, with no liabilities.
On the other hand, there was the biggest difference in the area of human resources: the needs that
applied in 2018 are outdated today. Today, we need to offer innovative and flexible working models to
recruit the best young talent. Work-life balance, diversity, inclusion must not just be buzzwords, they
must be lived.

Mr Pogorevc has been CEO of the company since 2018 (Image credit: Helvetic Airways)

Helvetic airways operates a fleet solely made up of Embraer aircraft, why was the decision made to do this?

Before unifying to an all Embraer fleet, Helvetic Airways operated Fokker100 aircraft, an Airbus A319
and Embraer E1 aircraft, four of which are still in our fleet today. The cooperation with Embraer was
excellent from the beginning and the development of the E2 series progressed well also due to our
experience and input from Switzerland. So the decision was also obvious to carry out the planned fleet
renewal in 2019 to 2021 with the new Embraer E2 models. The Embraer E2 is an aircraft of the latest
generation and therefore the right aircraft for the future. The E2 consumes significantly less fuel than
the E1 and, especially in times of high kerosene prices, it makes economic sense to operate an
aircraft that saves 20 to 30% fuel on certain routes at high load factors.
Another key reason for choosing the E2 jet was the commonalities, which is particularly advantageous
in the areas of training and maintenance.
All our pilots are certified for both the E1 and the E2, and the maintenance in our hangar is also
certified for both types of aircraft. We operate the aircraft, we maintain it and we have our own flight
school, the Horizon Swiss Flight Academy, where we train our pilots and engineers – all from Zurich.
In other words, we have specialists for all areas: training, operations and maintenance – in effect we
have become the Embraer competence center in Europe.

(Image credit: Flickr)

And Finally, what can we see in the near future for Helvetic airways?

First and foremost, our goal is to continue to offer our partners, customers and passengers reliable
flight operations with top service. In doing so, we will continue to rely on our three main pillars of
wetlease, charter and scheduled flights. Furthermore, we want to remain a good and modern employer
for our employees. Due to our manageable size, we remain agile and score with innovation and a
family atmosphere with flat hierarchies. We will continue to promote this spirit. From April, for example,
the first “Helvetic shared apartments” will be ready for occupancy – apartments rented by Helvetic
Airways and sublet to employees who do not have their main place of residence in Zurich. These
colleagues should immediately feel at home in our Helvetic family!

(Credit: Helvetic Airways)

Cover image credit: Flikr

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Interview with PLAY airlines CEO, Birgir Jonsson



PLAY airlines is the second largest airline in Iceland and its main low-cost carrier. They offer flights to destinations including the Canary Islands and a large amount places on the east coast of the US and Canada. I caught up with their CEO, Mr. Birgir Jonsson, to see how things were going in the wake of the pandemic…

How have you been reducing the environmental impact of your aircraft?

We’re committed to reducing our carbon emissions, which is why we follow regulations like the EU and UK Emissions Trading System and the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation. We’ve also complied with Norway’s and France’s national SAF mandates. We’re always looking for new ways to be more sustainable and reduce our impact on the environment.

What lessons have you learned from the pandemic?

The pandemic taught us how important ancillary revenue is for our airline, and we’ve worked hard to increase it to build a strong foundation for our company. We’re also dedicated to finding new ways to serve our passengers while prioritizing their safety and well-being.

PLAY airlines
(Credit: AviationSource News)

A lot of your company was founded on the basis of the collapse of Wow air in 2019; what aspects of Wow air still remain at PLAY?

While our transatlantic route network remains, everything else is new and different. We have a new fleet of Airbus A320/321neo narrowbody aircraft, and we’re a publicly listed company with nearly 4,000 shareholders. Our mission is to achieve sustainable growth with flights between the east coast of North America and Europe, using Iceland as a hub.

What do you see to be the biggest challenge to the aviation industry at the moment?

The aviation industry is facing several challenges, including surging fuel prices and intense competition. At PLAY, we’re tackling these challenges by seeking innovative digital solutions that help us reduce costs and offer lower prices to our passengers.

PLAY airlines
(Credit: The Points Guy)

Is the Russo-Ukrainian war affecting your business and if so how?

The war has led to higher fuel prices, which has affected the cost of operating our flights. However, we don’t operate routes that are directly impacted by the conflict.

You announced that February was a record month in sales for you. Do you think this is enough to put you close to Icelandair in the foreseeable future?

While we’re thrilled with our record-breaking sales in February, we recognize that Icelandair is an established company with decades of experience in the industry. Our strategy is working, but we know that it will take time and effort to achieve our goals.

PLAY airlines
(Credit: Milesopedia)

And finally, what can we see in the near future for PLAY airlines?

We’re always looking for ways to improve our services and make travel more affordable for our passengers. We’re focused on increasing our ancillary revenue and expanding our route network to serve more destinations. Our goal is to help our passengers pay less and PLAY more!

Cover image credit: Conde Nast Traveller.

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