RIGA - Due to the pandemic, the corporate flight segment has significantly decreased, but at the same time people's desire to fly on short holidays is growing, Martins Gauss, Chairman of the Board of the Latvian national airline airBaltic, told LETA in an interview.
He said that after living in a pandemic for two years, observations show that the flight profile had changed. For example, the corporate segment has changed - people who used to fly very often from one business center to another no longer do so, this segment has shrunk significantly due to restrictions.
"At the same time, we are seeing a growing desire to fly to other countries simply to visit someone or on a short break or holiday. So in 2021 we had more different destinations than in previous years, although we reduced the number of flights on several routes at the same time,'' Gauss said, adding that the same trend will continue this year - airBaltic will reduce the frequency of flights, but will offer more destinations.
Gauss noted that such a strategy is not airBaltic's long-term plan, but this is how the airline will enter in 2022, as it still has to deal with the current global situation.
"Current forecasts suggest that this Covid-19 wave will end in the spring. Assuming it is not followed by a new wave of the virus, we expect a positive trend for the summer season," Gauss said, but added that the autumn season will follow when restrictions could once again be re-introduced.
He also stressed that a lot depends on how the government will act, what restrictions will be in place, and how difficult it will be for a passenger to get from point A to point B by plane. Gauss pointed out that there are almost no restrictions on road traffic at the same time, as it is easiest to control air passengers. "A great deal of effort should be put into ensuring that passengers on buses, trains and private cars can be controlled to the same level," Gauss said.
According to the head of airBaltic, the situation is complicated by the fact that the rules change every week, sometimes even more often, so it is difficult to keep track of it, and the airline cannot predict which city the next day will impose restrictions that could disrupt travelers' plans.
"It could be said that there is madness in Europe in this area, which of course has a significant impact on the industry. Many who want to travel are deterred by the uncertainty about the rules, the need for testing and the like," Gauss said.