RIGA - Riga International Airport on June 28 announced its 2006 financials, with earnings reaching 961,100 lats (1.3 million euros), up 4.8 times compared with 2005. Turnover soared 21 percent to 16.2 million lats.
Chairman Krisjanis Peters said that the airport has strengthened its status as the largest in the region and successfully implemented a steep increase in the revenues from direct air traffic and commercial services.
Revenues from air travel services last year amounted to 11.6 million lats, a 13 percent increase year-on-year, while income from commercial services soared 47 percent to 4.6 million lats, the airport said.
Peters said in a press release that the improvement in the operational results and a 33 percent increase in passenger numbers show that the discount policy introduced in 2004, which brought in discount airliners Ryanair and EasyJet, had been the correct strategic development path.
"We are eager to carry on with our ambitious plans aimed at servicing more than 3 million passengers this year, 10 million passengers in the near future and 30 million passengers per year in the long-run," he said.
"Riga will become the main airport not only for the residents of Latvia but for residents of Estonia and Lithuania as well," said Peters.
He also said that the most important task would be developing a general development plan for the next 50 years. "The surrounding territory should be investigated for us to know in the 50-year perspective what our development opportunities are," he said.
Extending the runway from 2,550 meters to 3,200 meters and improving the runway's lighting system are the most significant projects, airport officials said.
Work on these two directions started in May and is scheduled to last until fall 2008. The combined cost: 15.3 million lats, 75 percent of which will be covered by the EU Cohesion Fund.
Martins Langrats, head of the airport's public relations office, said that an airport terminal should be drawn up in the near future. The airport will pay particular attention to providing quality service for both passengers and airlines.
Last year 18 airlines carried out regular passenger routes from Riga Airport. Direct routes connected Riga with 46 cities, up from 38 cities in 2005. In 2006 the total number of passengers amounted to 2.5 million people, a 33 percent increase year-on-year.