3 days ago airBaltic announced a quiz on Twitter to guess next airBaltic destination with three options given: Newcastle, Liverpool or Dublin.
My guess was Dublin and I was right. Today airBaltic announced plans to fly from Riga to Dublin starting March 2019.
Actually, this is not a new destination for airBaltic. My records show airBaltic was flying Dublin until end of 2012 from Riga.
Some years ago airBaltic used to fly Dublin from Vilnius (2005-2008; 2010-2011). That was the times when they competed flyLAL, Aer Lingus and Star1.
Times were different. airBaltic used to serve Dublin as a red-eye route, benefiting from 2 hours time difference between Baltics and Ireland. After departure Vilnius or Riga at 23:00 local time you can still land in Dublin at mid-night (what is quite OK) and after take-off from Dublin at 1 AM arrival time to Baltics will be 6 AM.
I do remember flying Dublin to Vilnius on red-eye schedule and this was a miserable experience even business class. Lounge in Dublin was closed at late night and you are not interested in business class foods and other entertainment at 3 AM. On the other hand, 3 hours flight is too short for any proper sleep.
Such schedules may work until you face competition. Ryanair won competition not only on price but on schedules. Ryanair was offering opposite schedules with Dublin based aircraft both sectors operating on “normal” daytime.
For years Ryanair faced no competition as airBaltic stopped Dublin routes and Aer Lingus left Vilnius Airport. Ryanair is serving Tallinn (summer-only), Riga, Kaunas, and Vilnius. Wizz Air tried to fly Cork from Vilnius for some time but they have never touched Ryanair’s birthplace.
Now airBaltic is back to competition with 4x weekly flights from Riga to Dublin on their brand new Airbus A220-300s. I do believe this aircraft is way more competitive with Ryanair cost base and at this time airBaltic is re-entering the market with better schedules:
Ryanair is operating Dublin to Riga 6x times a week with mixed schedules but as they do not have the base in Riga all rotations start in Dublin.
This will not be an easy game for airBaltic but Dublin routes are one of the most profitable destinations for Ryanair from the Baltics. It could be enough butter for two carriers and interesting if Ryanair will start capacity increase and a price war. This time airBaltic is way stronger with some product differences (business class, for example), good schedules, more efficient aircraft and connecting traffic (as schedule allows to connect from all airBaltic overnight destinations like Vilnius, Helsinki, Moscow, Turku, Palanga, Tallinn, Tbilisi and other).