RIGA - Riga’s international airport on Jan. 19 opened a new regular flight connection to Minsk, in a further bid to increase business relations between the two countries. This additional regularly scheduled flight will be served by Belarusian national airline Belavia. Belavia is the first airline to join Riga airport’s ‘family’ this year. In April, another low-cost airline, Wizz Air, is expected to begin flights to Riga.
Flying on the first Belavia promotional flight from Minsk to Riga were representatives of the airline, Latvia’s ambassador in Belarus, Maira Mora, and some of the management team from the national airport in Minsk.
Minsk to Riga will now be served with ten weekly flights. AirBaltic and Belavia have a code-sharing agreement, with airBaltic flying seven times per week, every day and Belavia flying three times per week. This will be Belavia’s first foray into Riga airspace.
“We hope that additional flights will facilitate air communication between the two capitals. Earlier many businessmen came to us to request additional flights in the afternoons. That would make it easier to get home after business negotiations. I think that the presence of such a flight on the Riga-Minsk route will save a lot of time for those who frequently fly to both destinations,” said Mora in Belarus.
“We opened additional flights in this extremely difficult time. We have no expectations to gain quick profits. I think it is a new, great opportunity for business people and especially for transit passengers. We work in good cooperation with our partner airBaltic and expect to open here a small window to Europe. Riga is very interesting for us, because there are a lot of quite inexpensive transit destinations in Northern Europe like Helsinki, Oslo, Tampere and Copenhagen. We can offer a small window in the Caucasus direction, because we have more than ten direct flights to Astana, Tbilisi, Baku, Yerevan,” remarked member of Belavia’s management Igor Cherginec.
“The pricing policy in the direction Minsk-Riga for Belavia will be similar to the airBaltic policy. But we expect that the price for some additional services will differ. For example, Belavia doesn’t charge an additional payment for baggage above 20 kg., so [our] ticket prices will be lower,” he added.
Minsk national airport is second after Riga among European airports with positive development dynamics. Riga’s airport served more than 4 million passengers in 2009. The number of passengers at Minsk’s airport was more than 1 million people last year. Many European airports showed a decrease in passenger flow. Belavia serves more than 75 percent of all Minsk national airport flights.
“We are happy to see a real result from recent negotiations from the Latvian-Belarusian cross-border intergovernmental commission. I hope that these increased flights between Riga and Minsk improves business connections between our countries. Last year trade turnover between Latvia and Belarus was about 2.3 billion dollars,” said Belarus’ Ambassador Alexander Gerasimenko.