Off the wire

  • 2001-08-09
UP, UP AND AWAY: Latvia's national airline AirBaltic has posted a net profit of 307,000 lats ($487,000) in the first six months of this year on a turnover of 14.4 million lats, the company reported. The turnover this year is up 16 percent year-on-year. "The fact that we've managed to make a profit for the first time in AirBaltic's history is especially pleasant for us. This shows that cost cuts and strategic decisions made two years ago were right and helped us successfully hurdle Latvia's economic fluctuations. Right now we see the situation as beneficial for further good results," said AirBaltic President Jens Helmo Larsen. The number of AirBaltic passengers in the first six months of this year has increased by 18 percent to 125,000; the total number of passengers at Riga airport has gone up by 9 percent. The airline's cargo and postal volumes have increased by 12 percent. The number of AirBaltic flights increased by 14 percent. In 2000 AirBaltic posted losses of 1.5 million lats on a net turnover of 24.94 million lats. The largest shareholders in AirBaltic are the Latvian state and Scandinavian Airline System.

METAL SCAVENGERS: Thieves scavenging for non-ferrous metal items to be sold as scrap continue to plague Latvian electricity utility Latvenergo, which has to spend huge sums on repairing the damage to stripped-down equipment, said a spokeswoman for the company. Brigita Eglite told BNS that Latvenergo had to spend 250,000 lats ($394,000) in the first six months of this year to repair the installations damaged by non-ferrous metal thieves. In the first half of 2001 Latvenergo registered 498 thefts which left the company short of 78 tons, or 719 kilometers, of wire and 28 pylons supporting overhead lines. Non-ferrous items are not the only thing thieves find attractive in the power company's installations. Facilities in eastern Latvia have been missing large amounts of transformer oil as well. In July, over 2,400 liters of transformer oil were stolen from Latvenergo. In 2000, Latvenergo registered 489 cases of non-ferrous metal theft from its electric power installations for the total amount of 119 tons, a record figure in the company's history.

NO MILL: AS Estonian Cell has dropped earlier plans to build a $56.4 million aspen wood pulp mill in the central Estonian town of Turi. Kuma Radio reported that Estonian Cell justified its dropping of the plan by the noise raised by some environmentalists that the mill would pollute Estonia from Turi as far as Parnu and its beaches. The firm said in its letter to Kalev Aun, chairman of the Turi Municipal Council, that such a campaign discredits the ideas of the project, disturbs the public and may damage the economic interests of the firm in the future. Estonian Cell said that realization of the project would have made it possible to create in central Estonia an important forestry and socio-economic site, and problems of waste water purification could have been solved in cooperation. The owner of Estonian Cell, Norwegian wood pulp maker Larvic, was planning to establish in Estonia a billion kroon pulp mill. According to earlier plans, it should have gone into operation by the end of 2002. According to the project, the Turi mill would have discharged 5,000 cubic meters of waste water daily into the Parnu River, increasing Turi's waste water amounts eightfold.

BANNER RISE: The volume of Internet banner advertising declined by slightly more than 5 percent, month-on-month, to 2.4 million kroons ($135,000) with the financial turnover at 1.2 million kroons per month, Estonia's Turundusnoukoda marketing consultancy reported. Traditionally the most popular advertising environments were Delfi, and Mega. As in July, Delfi's market share remained at 25 percent,'s share declined to 10 percent from 18 percent and Mega's share increased from 13 percent to 14 percent. BNS and WWW Wark followed the leading threesome with market shares of 6 percent and 5 percent respectively. Year-on-year, market volume in list prices has increased by more than a million kroons.

MOST FAVORED BELARUS: Estonia and Belarus signed on July 31 in Minsk an agreement on trade and economic cooperation, which will lead to the abolition of the present double customs tariffs on Estonian goods on import into Belarus. The Foreign Minstry said the agreement on the most favored nation status was signed by Estonian Economics Ministry Chancellor Marika Priske and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Belarus Mikhail Hvostov. The agreement will take effect after implementation of domestic precedures. In the Foreign Ministry's opinion, the agreement should increase Estonian goods' competitiveness in Belarus. Estonia has signed with Belarus agreements on the avoidance of double taxation, rail shipments and air traffic.

LUCKY NUMBER: As of last week, it is now possible to obtain a private car number plate in Lithuania. Lithuanian insurance company Drauda was the first to receive a private car state number plate. The number plate with an inscription ERGO 01 was presented to the board chairman of Drauda, a member of ERGO insurance group. The acquisition of a personal car number plate costs $1,000. The number plate may include a combination of 6 symbols, letters and/or numbers. "We will not lower the cost as such plates are a luxury and not a necessity," representatives of a state enterprise issuing the car number plates said. According to the release, private car plates in Estonia and Latvia also cost $1,000. Eighteen such plates were issued in Estonia last year. The inscription on the private car plate may not include obscene, slang, or swear words, as well as concepts insulting persons of other races or religious beliefs. The private number plates will only be issued for cars. If they prove to be in demand, private number plates may also be issued for motorcycles and trailers.