Baltic Outlook introduces you to some of the most important people at airBaltic – its flight crew members, who have some of the most interesting hobbies.


Rugby is one of the most popular and successful team sports in France, with France reaching the quarter-finals at last year’s World Cup. ‘We were supposed to win it!’ says Victor Lespagnol. ‘I was very sad after the team lost to South Africa by just one point to play in the semi-finals.’

Victor’s cousin played rugby professionally for Stade Français, which is one of the best-known rugby teams in France. After attending his games and being the biggest fan, Victor decided to switch to rugby. Before that, he could often be found on a football pitch. So Victor joined the local rugby club in his hometown of Vannes, Brittany, and from the very first practice was astonished by the team spirit and the mindset of the sport.

‘It’s just crazy!’ Victor says with great excitement. ‘Unlike football, at least from what I experienced, in rugby your teammates will never berate you for a wrong action or move. My teammates were super welcoming and supportive when I started playing.’ Victor played rugby until he finished high school and moved to Riga to join airBaltic’s Pilot Academy.

Asked what else he loves about rugby, Victor says that it’s a sport with no breaks in the game – there’s action all the time. ‘If you watch American football, you’ll notice that there’s a bit of action and then a pause, action and a pause. But in rugby we play all the time. Also, rugby is a contact sport, which might seem a bit rough for some, but even if there have been fights, after the game is over the teams shake each other’s hands and join together for food and drinks. This is something I really love about the sport. Yes, and the strategy! There’s so much strategy hidden in the code words we use during the game.’


‘What do I love about flying? Everything!’ Victor says with a laugh. ‘The most amazing thing is that I’m going to work, but it doesn’t feel like work. For me, it’s also important to know that we’re carrying passengers from one point to another, and these trips are important to them. And I won’t even mention the fantastic views!’

Victor is a graduate of airBaltic’s Pilot Academy. His father, who flies Boeing 747s as a captain for Cathay Pacific, saw the news about airBaltic opening its Pilot Academy to European students as well and forwarded the information to Victor. That was in 2019, and Victor submitted his CV straight away. From that point on, everything went very smoothly – he was accepted into the academy and began working as a pilot in 2022, just after airBaltic started hiring pilots again after the pandemic.

Victor has now settled in Riga, in the lovely neighbourhood of Āgenskalns, and admits that he doesn’t have that much time to fly back to France anymore. His Latvian is also improving, especially with food-related words, so that he can shop more easily at the locally famous Āgenskalns Market.

Words by Ilze Pole
Photo by Edmunds Brencis (Picture Agency)