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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Monday, 10.08.2020, 18:17

Riga Airport sees passenger numbers surge 400% in June

BC, Riga, 03.07.2020.Print version
With airlines increasing the number of flights and reopening more and more routes, Riga International Airport has seen passenger numbers surge by more than 400 percent over the past month, the airport's representative Laura Kulakova informed LETA.

In June 2020, Riga Airport served 55,445 passengers, an increase of 437 percent against May. However, compared to June 2019, the number of passengers at the airport was still 92.7 percent lower in June this year. 

In the first half of 2020, the number of passengers at the airport fell 62.9 from the same period a year ago to 1.3 million. 

Kulakova said that low-costs carrier Norwegian is restarting regular operations from Riga as of this Friday. The first Norwegian flight from Riga is scheduled to the Norway's capital city Oslo. The carrier plans to operate two flights a week on the Rig-Oslo route - on Mondays and Fridays.

Starting next week, passengers will be able to fly to more than 40 destinations from Riga as six carriers are restarting passenger service from Riga: Latvia's airBaltic national carrier, Germany's Lufthansa, Finland's Finnair, Irish low-costs airline Ryanair, Hungarian no-frills carrier Wizz Air and Norwegian. 

International passenger flights to Latvia are allowed from countries where the 14-day cumulative number of Covid-19 cases does not exceed 25 per 100,000 population, as well as countries included in the European Commission's list of safe countries. 

Before arriving at Riga Airport, passengers are encouraged to get acquainted with the safety measures on the airport’s website and carefully read the safety requirements of their chosen airline. For example, the national airline airBaltic does not let passengers with a body temperature of over 37.8°C to board their aircraft. The temperature is taken before security checks.

The airport also encourages potential travelers to find out in advance of their trip what entry requirements and restrictions the destination country has in place.

Although the number of destinations and flights from Riga International Airport is growing, passenger load factor still remains lower than before the Covid-19 crisis, Laura Kulakova, a representative of Riga Airport, told LETA. 

The airport's representative said that in the first half of this year the number of flights fell 54.8 percent from the respective period a year ago - while in the first six months of 2019 the airline handled 41,554 flights, in January-June 2020 the number of flights fell to 18,796. Passenger numbers, meanwhile, plummeted 62.9 percent on year - from 3.5 million in the first half of 2019 to 1.3 million in the first six months of this year. 

The number of destinations carriers operate from Riga fell from record-high 106 a year ago to 43, available from next week.

Asked if the airport plans to revise its downgraded passenger number forecast for this year, Kulakova said said that the forecast remains unchanged because "although the number of destinations and flights is growing again, passenger load factor is lower than before". 

Asked how long it might take for passenger numbers to reach the pre-crisis level again, Kulakova said that Riga Airport bases its projections on forecasts released by international aviation organizations and that they expect the industry to recover in one and a half year to two years. 

According to a forecast released by Riga Airport at the end of April, the airport expects to handle some 1.6 million passengers this year and 4.6 million next year. 

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