Government approves strategy for phasing out Covid-19 linked state aid to Riga Airport

  • 2022-07-18
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The government last week approved a strategy for phasing out the state aid that was provided to Riga International Airport due to the Covid-19 crisis, LETA was told at the Transport Ministry.

In the closed part of its July 14 meeting, the government approved the strategy for phasing out Covid-19 state aid to Riga Airport in line with the Temporary Framework on State aid measures to support the economy in the current context of the COVID-19 outbreak (Temporary Framework), adopted by the European Commission on March 19, 2020.

The Transport Ministry indicated that compared to the start of the pandemic in 2020, Riga Airport has been showing growth, allowing the government to decide on ending state support.

Riga Airport CEO Laila Odina said that the airport has been generating profit for the past couple of months and that there will be no radical travel restrictions this fall, which means that the airport expects to close 2022 without losses and perhaps even with a small profit. 

In June, Odina told LETA that the airport plans to exit the state aid program two years after its adoption, which means that this will happen from March 2023. 

Odina noted that the state aid was meant to cover the costs of a project co-funded from the European Union's Cohesion Fund. The airport also sustained large losses in recent years. 

As reported, Riga International Airport received 2.2 million air passengers in the first half of 2022, which is 5.4 times the number served over the same period a year ago, according to the airport's operating data.

In June 2022, Riga Airport received nearly 550,000 passengers and handled 5,045 flights. Compared to June 2021, the number of passengers was nearly 3.5 times higher but 28 percent below the number reported for June 2019.

On March 8, 2021, the European Commission gave permission to raise the share capital of Riga Airport by EUR 39.74 million. The airport was also allowed to forgo 20 percent of dividends for 2019.

In 2021, Riga Airport received 2.353 million passengers, which is an increase of 17 percent against 2020 but 70 percent below the result achieved in 2019.

Riga Airport is the largest air traffic hub in the Baltic states.