Latvian national airline airBaltic has released a statement in which it apologizes for the ticket sale set for March 8 – a day that is celebrated around the world as the International Women’s Day.
“If anyone finds our cheap ticket campaign insulting – we offer our sincerest apologies for unintentionally misleading you – we truly mean to say that travelling is fun, and we will do our best to make it available to you” – as airBaltic Corporate Communications Vice-President Janis Vanags told BNN.
This apology was expressed largely because of another calendar day related incident: February 23 – formerly known as Red Army Day and currently called the Men’s Day.
BNN previously reported that this was the reason behind Transport Minister Aivis Ronis’ decision to remove the ministry’s representative in the airline – Kaspars Briskens – from his post.
According to Ronis, Briksens has not been controlling the company’s activities reasonably enough to prevent Latvia’s national airline from popularizing the holiday of a non-existent army and navy, which is celebrated in the honour of the Soviet army’s first major victory over the German forces at Narva and Pleskava.
“The airline’s marketing and ticket sales strategy should comply with the status of a national carrier and responsibility that comes with it,” – notes Ronis.
The Transport Minister has requested explanations from the enterprise in regard to the aforementioned fact.
The dismissed Briskens is surprised by the minister’s decisions to relieve him of duty. “The council manages the airline on a strategic level. It does not evaluate activities on an operating level. This includes marketing activity,” – said Briskens in an interview to Latvian radio and the Latvian Television’s internet portal.
He notes that the Council’s responsibility is defined by the Commercial Law and the objectives set by the largest shareholder [the state]: searching for strategic investors for airBaltic, renewal of the airline’s fleet, communication between shareholders and the airline, the Transport Ministry, as well as coordination of cooperation between the airline and Riga International Airport.
Briskens agreed that the use of the date (February 23) in order to attract clients is not the kind of marketing activity that should be employed by Latvia’s national airline. However, he noted that the Board of the airline holds no responsibility for this. He also offered the Board to review the communication system between the Board and airBaltic‘s marketing department.
Aviation expert Talis Linkaits previously told LETA that airBaltic‘s marketing was flawed, because a specific date is a sensitive matter, especially when it comes to notable dates that remain after the fall of the Soviet Union. Such topics have a certain reputation in the Baltics. On top of that, Finnish and German speakers are not likely to understand the meaning behind this marketing move. The expert does admire the fact that the airline responded swiftly. English and Latvian texts of the advertisements were corrected within a few hours. “I hope this will teach a lesson to the people in marketing,” – says the expert.
airBaltic has plenty of other problematic issues to deal with: company management, contract signing, litigations, attraction of consultants, etc. This is why the expert says the ministry should review these issues more carefully before jumping to conclusions next time.
airBaltic is a joint stock company that was established in 1995. The majority shareholder is Latvian state with 99.8% of stock. The airBaltic fleet consists of 29 aircraft – six Boeing 737-500, eight Boeing 737-300, seven Fokker 50 airplanes and eight Bombardier Q400Next Gen.