Tukums on RIX’ radar

  • 2011-03-23
  • From wire reports

GRASS FIELDS: Tukums Airport, which until recently had a concrete-slab runway, wants to be a low-cost airlines’ hub.

RIGA - Riga International Airport does not intend to stop servicing the Irish low-fare airline Ryanair, reports Nozare.lv. Riga Airport CEO Arnis Luhse emphasized, though, that the airport has not discussed the issue with Ryanair. The airport has not suggested Ryanair fly to Tukums Airport, instead of to Riga, and the Irish company has not come up with any such proposal either. If Ryanair will decide to do so, then it will most likely be due to lower costs, emphasized the airport.

The agreement with Ryanair is in force until 2015, and currently there are no plans to review it. Economy Minister Artis Kampars (Unity) previously explained that development of Tukums Airport would be beneficial for business activity in local towns and counties and would create new jobs.

Tukums Airport in January announced that low-cost airlines will be flying to Tukums instead of to Riga in the future, and plans are afoot to use the name of Jurmala to make the airport more recognizable, wrote the daily Neatkariga. The airport could be renamed Jurmala Airport. At the moment, the airport is being reconstructed.

Neatkariga noted that if the private airport in Tukums is granted a license, this could solve the problem of unequal airport fees in Riga. Traditional airlines such as airBaltic, Finnair, Lufthansa would continue flying from Riga, whereas low-cost carriers could choose to fly to/from Tukums - Ryanair, Norwegian, Wizz Air. This, though, requires Tukums to offer these airlines better conditions than those offered by Riga.

Luhse said that “Yes, this matter is being discussed, but we have not yet found a solution,” adding that Riga Airport wished to continue servicing low-cost airlines, as this provided “additional income.”
Riga Airport would itself like to build a passenger terminal for low-cost airlines, added Luhse.
Until recently, Tukums Airport was a two-kilometer area covered with concrete slabs, which could only be accessed by one road. Last summer, construction of a passenger terminal got under way there. Currently, planes can land and take off from Tukums Airport only from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and not after dark, and the maximum weight of planes is limited to 5.7 tons where, for instance, a 50-seat Fokker weighs 20.8 tons.

The developers of the new airport have been rather evasive when commenting on their plans. “Talks with airlines are under way, but this is a very sensitive issue. Airlines require that the airport has certificates, infrastructure,” says Tukums Airport executive Director Oksana Sergeja.

The large-scale reconstruction project has local residents in protest considering who will be affected if Tukums Airport launches operations as per current plans.