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Baltia Air Lines Might Actually Take Off After Being a Startup for 21 Years

Baltia Air Lines Boeing 747-200 (N705BL) at LAX aftering being taken out of the airline junkyard in August 2010..

Baltia Air Lines Boeing 747-200 (N705BL) at LAX aftering being taken out of the airline junkyard in August 2010..

I have loved following Baltia Air Lines for quite sometime now.  Since August 2009 when Tom Luly on The Airline Blog first talked about the airline, or lack of an airline, I have been intrigued.

Really the story starts long ago. Back in 1989, Baltia Air Lines was founded in New York City. The idea was to provide service from New York to what used to be the Soviet Union. After lots of planning, it looked like things were going well for the start up. Baltia had plans to fly to multiple cities in the Soviet Union and were looking to purchase a few Boeing 767′s and 737′s. Then the Soviet Union collapsed, which was great for America, but not so great for the new American-based Baltia Air Lines. There was too much instability in the Baltic region and plans to start a new airline were shelved.

It took until 1996 when Baltia was able to get authority to fly from New York (at JFK) to St. Petersberg. At the time Baltia was planning on flying a single Boeing 747 and in 1998 put a $100,000.00 down payment for an ex-Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-200. However, in 1999, the airline did not have enough capital to start flying and the Department of Transportation (DOT) revoked their route authority. In 2007, Baltia received more capital and once again filed to fly from JFK to St. Petersburg. The DOT approves the plan and allowed them to fly in 2008.

When Luly with The Airline Blog first contacted Baltia back in August 2009, they assured him they were planning on purchasing one Boeing 747 from an airline that was based in the US. Many were skeptical that the airline would actually purchase an aircraft and questioned if the airline would ever take off (pun intended).

It was quite shocking when they announced that they purchased a Boeing 747-200. They didn’t end up getting a 747 from an American carrier, but they still found one. Baltia ended up purchasing one which was first delivered to TAP Air Portugal in 1975. Then in 1976 it was sold to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), where it flew until it was stored in 2005. Then in July 2009, Baltia Air Lines purchased the jumbo jet and registered it as N705BL. They paid a little less than a half-million for the plane, which did not come with engines.

Baltia Air Lines Boeing 747-200 (N705BL) arriving to Malaysian Airline System Berhad ("MAS") facility in Malaysia for scheduled maintenance

Baltia Air Lines Boeing 747-200 (N705BL) arriving to Malaysian Airline System Berhad ("MAS") facility in Malaysia for scheduled maintenance

Even though they had a plane, it became questionable if it would ever fly. Doubters were amazed, when on August 4th 2010, she arrived at the Malaysian Airlines Maintenance Center where it will be updated and painted.

The choice of an older, less fuel efficient aircraft is a bit puzzling. Of course there is a lower up front cost, but it will cost a lot in the long run. Will passengers be willing to fly in such an old aircraft? Will most even realize how old she really is?

This airline surely is interesting. Not only a US airline flying passengers in a Boeing 747-200, but flying non-stop to major Russian cities is too good to ignore. These people sure seem to have the drive and ambition to make an airline happen, no matter what the time line.

The keen eye of a ramp worker caught N705BL at LAX on its way to Malaysia (photo) and was allowed to go in to take a look. The interior is still looks like PIA (photo), but they plan to install a VIP interior. I kind of hope they can keep the classic spiral stair case going up to the upper deck (photo).

More recently, Baltia Air Lines has announced the purchase of a second Boeing 747 and that they plan to start flying during the second quarter of 2011. According to Airliners Gallery News, Baltia Air Lines President, Igor Dmitrowsky stated, “Significant progress has been made in the FAA Air Carrier Certification document process and that Baltia is anticipating a second quarter launch.” He continued with, “There are still other pre-launch certification tasks to be accomplished such as the completion of the Safety Attribute Inspection audit process of the manuals, the completion of maintenance on our newly acquired Boeing 747 aircraft, the training of our crewmembers, and the mini evacuation test and proving flights, which should all be completed prior to our inaugural flight.”

You can be sure I will be keeping a close eye on Baltia and sharing anything new they might have.

MORE BALTIA AIR LINES GOODIES:
* Video of N705BL arriving in Malaysian Airlines Maintenance Center
* 20 photos of the aircraft’s life
* Simpliflying looks at Baltia Air Lines use of social media

LAX Image: Duncan Stewart MAS Image: Baltia’s Video

14 comments to Baltia Air Lines Might Actually Take Off After Being a Startup for 21 Years

  • I remember doing work back in 1994-5 reviewing DOT/FAA certification of new airlines, and remember their original plans called for a hub of sorts at LED with a change of guage for service to the Baltics and other Russian locations. It was certainly one of the more interesting planned start-ups we looked at (but not as juicy as Family Airlines). I count myself along with the skeptics as to the longevity of Baltia.

  • they may fly, but not for very long….

  • I personally worked on the FAA Air Carrier Certification for this airline. I created all the forms that are necessary to complete the books.

    I can assure anyone interested, that Baltia is serious about getting this business “off the ground”.

    Creating the books required to put a Part 121 Heavy Carrier in the air is quite a task in itself. The job takes roughly 2 years to complete when being done for the first time, for a new airline.

    Even for the small part I played, creating approximately 700 – 800 forms kept me quite busy for about 18 months.

    The books are now completed and are in the hands of the FAA, to the best of my knowledge, and are in the midst of being cleared for certification.

    Personally, I wish them all the best! They were a great client for us, being that we are a start-up publishing company, it was great to work with them. It was also a great learning curve for us. Pretty interesting stuff!

  • [...] Boeing 747-400s are being destroyed,  there talk of two Boeing 747-200s  to fly US passengers. It might seem odd at first, but when you look at the fact that there were 694 Boeing 747-400s [...]

  • upupnaway

    Baltia is going to be a great airline service. Imagine what fedex, ups, and all the other delivery companies are thinking when they can finally OVERNIGHT something to russia, Plus 2014 is the russian olympics…..BALTIA is gonna be big.

  • [...] has almost been a year since I last took a look at the airline and they are making some pretty good progress. A big emotional step has to be seeing their second [...]

  • [...] has almost been a year since I last took a look at the airline and they are making some pretty good progress. A big emotional step has to be seeing their second [...]

  • sam a

    keeping an eye on baltia for last 3 years i feel this air line will come througth iam counting on baltia

  • Adam

    Ive been an investor in BLTA for a few years now. It obviously hasn’t paid off YET. I am confident in their business plan though and expect manuals to be approved soon. After that, they will likely be moving pretty quickly to get into the air. And like another poster suggested, they have a GREAT revenue producing opportunity with cargo companies. The last I heard, they will have their cargo hull full at almost all times. I’m sure the Russian owner of the NJ Nets will be one of the first to fly. If they can get operating before the Russian Olympics, which I assume they are trying hard to accomplish, this will be a very nice boost to the company. Good luck baltia!

  • sk

    Any news of Batia first 747? Actually today I see an old 747-200 at MAE is being destroyed and the only thing left today is just the cockpit section. It has been parked in front of the MAE’s hangar for quite some time (almost one year or more) which I believe it belongs to Baltia because before this, I can see that it is painted with PIA livery.

  • Faisal J

    My father was an operating Captain of the Baltia aircraft when it was registered as AYW for PIA and I flew on numerous occasions in the cockpit of this aircraft. It had over 75,000 flying hours back in 1999 and we had a very serious incident on takeoff at JFK on Dec 18th, 1998. I still have pictures of the interior of the aircraft that was damaged when my father aborted the take-off just before V1. There was intense nose wheel shimme(later found out to be damaged by the tug master on the inbound when the hydraulics had leaked and it had to be towed in on JFK on the inbound journey. The vibration in the cockpit was so severe that the door flew back and the instrument popped out of the panels. The upper deck toilet completely collapsed and so did the overhead bins. It is a long story but I consider my self lucky that this ‘lion’ of a plane withstood the damage.

  • […] Meet “America’s newest airline”, according to the Baltia website at least.  This isn’t one very many aviation enthusiasts have heard of, even though it has been over 20 years in the making. A detailed history can be found by the Airline Reporter. […]

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