VILNIUS - The first passenger flights from Lithuania to foreign countries may be resumed on May 10-15, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Tuesday.
Skvernelis did not say which routes might be reopened initially, but noted that air travel to countries that do not apply quarantine restrictions or are coronavirus hotspots will not be resumed.
"The government will consider how to renew flights at Vilnius Airport, but certainly not today," the prime minister said, adding that "some first steps" toward resuming air travel could be made "around May 10-15".
"Of course, there won't be many routes and there won't be routes from those countries that do not have a quarantine regime or have massive outbreaks," he said.
Transport Minister Jaroslav Narkevic named Latvia, Germany and Poland among the first possible destinations.
"The first flights could be to Latvia, Germany, Poland if those countries reopen to (Lithuanian) citizens," he told reporters, adding that these countries require arrivals to go into quarantine for two weeks.
According to the minister, the German airline Lufthansa has "semi-officially" informed Lithuania that it is ready to resume flights to the country.
"But I know that other companies are selling tickets, too," he said. " Ryanair and Wizz Air accept bookings in other countries, too, for flights to Lithuania, and when this period occurs will depend on the COVID-19 commission's decision".
In an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Lithuania closed its airspace to passenger flights in early April.
Lietuvos Oro Uostai, the operator of Lithuania's three international airports, said last week that flights to Frankfurt, Copenhagen and Warsaw might be resumed initially.
Meanwhile, Lithuanian tour operators say that Air Baltic plans to resume some flights on May 13, with the first one to be operated from Riga to Vilnius. The Latvian airline company is already selling tickets for the flight.
Hungary's low-cost airline Wizz Air is also selling tickets for flights from Vilnius to London starting from May 13, and for flights to Milan, Oslo, Paris and other destinations from May 17.
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has told the Financial Times recently that the Irish budget carrier expects to run about 40 percent of its flights if air travel is resumed in Europe in July. It plans to increase capacity to 60 percent in August and up to 80 percent in September.
He said, however, that the airline would not resume flights if there were some social distancing measures, such as having middle seats empty.
BPC Travel has announced that a flight from Vilnius to London is planned for May 2, but passengers must prove they have a place of residence or a contract to work in England.