RIGA - The current situation in Latvian aviation industry is significantly worse than the overall situation in Europe, and there are certain concerns that Vilnius could take over from Riga as the Baltic aviation hub, the Civil Aviation Agency (CAA) Director Maris Gorodcovs said in an interview with LETA.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had the biggest impact on the aviation market in Europe as the number of flights in Europe has decreased the most. "At the moment, Europe is the world's hardest-hit region where the number of flights has decreased the most. Right now, the average number of flights in Europe is just at 34 percent of the 2019 number," said Gorodcovs.
The decrease in the number of flights in Latvia is the eighth steepest among Eurocontrol member countries, said Gorodcovs. "We are among the countries that have been hit the hardest. Passenger turnover has fallen by more than 90 percent. On some days, just 150 passengers arrive in Latvia. That is two planes. It proves that the situation in Latvia is substantially worse than the average situation in Europe," said Gorodcovs.
There are also certain concerns that Vilnius could take over from Riga as the Baltic aviation hub. "Of course, there are some concerns. Last summer, when mobility restrictions in Lithuania were not as harsh as in Latvia, there were some months when Vilnius had more passengers than Riga Airport," said Gorodcovs.
Banning direct flights will not achieve anything, believes Gorodcovs. People can fly to Vilnius and then travel to Riga by car. "This simply means taking profit away from our businessmen and making the situation worse at Riga Airport. We have to look at what our neighbors are doing, and we must be smart so that we do not lose our positions, neither now nor in the future," said Gorodcovs.
According to Gordcovs, there are more or less regular flights from Riga to Vilnius and Amsterdam at the moment.
As reported, Riga Airport served 2.011 million passengers last year, a decrease of 74.2 percent on 2019, while the Vilnius Airport's passenger turnover fell 73.8 percent to 1.312 million passengers.