RIGA - AirBaltic, Latvia's national airline, announced that it had purchased two more Fokker airplanes. The purchase boosts the company's fleet to 16 planes 's seven Boeing 737s and nine Fokker 50s.
Company spokeswoman Vija Dzerve said that one of the new Fokker 50 planes would be used for flights from Vilnius, and the other on routes from Riga.
AirBaltic flies from the Latvian and Lithuanian capitals to more than 20 cities in Europe and also offers a domestic flight from Riga to Liepaja.
Last year, the airline carried a total of 589,288 passengers, though in the Jan.-Oct. period of 2005 the company handled 641,274 passengers through Riga International Airport alone.
But airBaltic, which is 52.6 percent owned by the state and 47.2 percent by SAS, is being given a run for its money by Ryanair, which began regular flights to and from Riga in October 2004. Since the Irish carrier entered the market, airBaltic's share of the passenger flow in Riga Airport has fallen from 52 percent last year to 41 percent at the end of October.
Ryanair handled 339,664 passengers on routes between Riga and four European cities in the 10-month period. It now commands 22 percent of the airport's passenger market.
AirBaltic generated 51.6 million lats (73.4 million euros) in sales last year.