RIGA - Riga's international airport is set to start the first round of construction in spring 2008 as it moves ahead with its 200 million lat (284.58 million euro) expansion plan, said airport board chairman Krisjanis Peters on July 26. Most of the money will be borrowed from banks, added Peters, who are keen to participate in the development project.
The entire reconstruction and expansion effort is planned in four phases. The first round is to involve the extension of the existing terminal, which will serve as a transitional module in the future, linking to the new terminal. The remaining module construction works could be finished by autumn 2008, and is expected to cost approximately 5 million lats. These costs will be covered by the airport budget.
The second round of construction will be the new departures terminal, and will be located on the site of the current temporary car parking lot. Construction of this terminal is scheduled for 2008-10.
The third round provides for a new, north-facing aircraft station, the connection of that aircraft station with the terminal, and the start of expansion of the platform. Round four will involve completing the expansion of the aircraft stop in the northern direction, complete construction of the platform and reconstruction of the existing terminal building.
Demolition work to remove a vacant hotel from the airport property, and the removal of the VIP aircraft hangar, is planned to facilitate the expansion plans, says Peters.
After reconstruction the airport will be able to serve 15 - 20 million passengers annually.
Longer-term development plans provide for improving the traffic connections between the airport and Riga. Talks with Riga City Council on construction of a high-speed tram line to the airport are underway. Similarly, talks are being held with Latvia's railway, Latvijas Dzelzcels, on the construction of a railway line leading to the airport, arriving at an underground railway station.
Peters said that on Aug. 2 the airport board would decide whether to adopt the plan.
A previous draft of the airport development plan provided for a 150 million lat investment before 2009 to bring annual capacity up to 10 million passengers. Investment would then jump to 350 million lats for reaching annual passenger numbers of 15 - 17 million by 2020, with a final outlay of from 500 million lats to 1 billion lats for reaching traffic capacity of 30 million passengers a year.
Riga airport posted 9.4 million lats in revenue in the first six months of 2007, a 29 percent increase from the same period in 2006. The airport served 1,412,845 passengers from January to June this year, 24 percent higher than the year earlier period.
Riga airport is fully owned by the Latvian state and is the largest airport in the Baltic states by number of passengers served.