RIGA - Riga airport has moved closer to gaining the edge needed to maintain its position as the biggest airport hub of the Baltics after it opened its new 23.5 million euro runway.
The runway can accommodate any type of plane in the world without limitations, making it unique out of the three Baltic countries.
"This means that of one of the major preconditions for the airport to become a prominent Northern-European air transit center is accomplished," a Riga International Airport press release said.
Krisjanis Peters, Riga International Airport Chairman said, "The runway field is a backbone of any airport. Our new landing field actually means a new beginning for the RIX International airport."
"Today we open a landing field 's the main precondition for the airport to function properly in the future; already next year we will start a just as important task 's the construction of a new airport building," Peters added.
AirBaltic stated their intention to be the main airliner in the Baltics with Riga International
Airport having a commanding share of traffic in the region. Riga competes with St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Stockholm for regional long distance travel.
Riga airport is 100 percent owned by the Latvian government, which also has a 52 percent share of AirBaltic.
Peters sees the runway as integral to linking Europe with Asia.
"The new 3200 meters long runway will let the people of the Baltic's reach even more destinations making traveling more comfortable, faster and wider. Riga International Airport is situated at the crossing point between East and West. This is a strategically important communication center, whereas we have an opportunity to develop international air traffic. I believe that soon we will witness the landing of unseen before airplanes from all over the world here 's in Riga International Airport."
The runway has been extended 650 meters to increase the total length to 3200 meters. The new extended runaway allows the airport to serve the intercontinental flights without any limitations landing the biggest planes including the Airbus A340 and Boeing 747, 757, 767 and 777.
The nearest runways of similar capacity can be found at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm and at Vantaa Airport in Helsinki, which also serve intercontinental flights.
The extension of the runaway and reconstruction of the related illumination system started in May 2007 and included the teamwork of five companies:
Firma L4 's general contractor for runway extension, maneuvering way, reconstruction of illumination systems and water drainage construction;
SC&A 's extension of the runway, maneuvering way;
A.C.B. 's electrical installations including the illumination systems;
Leminkainen Lemcon 's water drainage and rain collection systems;
HoneyWell Airport Systems from Germany 's provision of illumination equipment for the reconstruction of illumination systems.
The total cost of the project equals 23.5 million euro, with 16.5 million coming from European Union Cohesion Fund joint financing.