It started off with grand plans, but decades on, the carrier has yet to receive official certification from the FAA and has not operated one commercial flight.
The brainchild of a Latvian immigrant to the U.S., Baltia Airlines started off with lofty ambitions, but almost three decades later, the carrier has yet to fly a single passenger.
From its inception in 1989, the airline had initially planned to offer what was then the only non-stop service from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Leningrad, now St. Petersburg. Once that initial service had been established, the idea was that the carrier would expand its network across the old Soviet Union, adding routes to Kiev, Riga, Minsk and Tbilisi.
The problem, however, appears to be that throughout its 27-year existence, Baltia Airlines has failed to gain official operational approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This means that its fleet, which was, until recently, comprised of a single 37-year-old Boeing 747, is unable to take to the skies.
In a bid to increase its chances of finally receiving the go-ahead from the FAA, the carrier, reports Michigan Radio, moved its base from JFK to Willow Run Airport (YIP) in Michigan, where it is said to be easier to receive certification. The outlet reported last month that Baltia failed FAA evaluation seven times due to a problem with the deployment of its aircraft slides.
However, things aren’t looking good for Baltia. In March 2016, the station reported that the carrier was abandoning its single plane in order to lease newer craft. This, it hoped, would help to smooth along the certification process.
As well as being tripped up by the certification process, during the same month, Barry Clare, Baltia’s executive vice president and director, was charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for “receiving transaction-based compensation for his work” and acting “as an unregistered broker for sales of Baltia’s common stock to investors.”
The carrier has rejected the charges and insists that it is at an advanced stage of the certification process. However, in a statement last spring, Russell Thal, the carrier’s president, admitted that, “Launching Baltia has been a long and tedious process.”