The Baltic’s largest airport to get a new air cargo handling facility next year

Riga Airport DHL celebrates its 25 years of operation in Latvia in 2019 (RIX)

Latvia has made another step towards building up a steady long-term air cargo flow at its Riga International Airport (IATA: RIX) with a 6 November agreement struck between Riga Airport, logistics company DHL Latvia and real estate developer Castor Construction. The aim is to build “one of the most modern shipment processing and logistics centres in Europe,” says a statement. Together with a new cargo apron and the planned multifunctional logistics centre, the airport will also have a new state-of-the-art cargo-handling infrastructure.

The agreement provides that a 4 500-square metre regional DHL shipment processing and logistics centre will be built at Riga Airport within a year. DHL Express will move to the new terminal at Riga Airport and will have a new sorting facility that will allow more efficient shipment handling.

Ilona Līce, Riga Airport’s chairperson of the board, insists: “The new DHL cargo logistics centre will ensure a stable long-term air cargo flow at Riga Airport… the main and decisive role in attracting and developing the international cargo logistics solution at Riga Airport is the development of low-cost infrastructure, high quality of services, clear and simple Customs procedures, and added value that is based on innovations created by cargo companies and regulatory authorities.

“The main task of the airport is to provide an appropriate infrastructure and a favourable platform for cooperation, which will facilitate the entry of new cargo carriers and increase the turnover of air cargo,” she adds.

DHL is expected to invest some 12 million euros in the facility. “The agreement with the investor for the lease of the terminal has been concluded for a period of 10 years, with an option to extend it to 15-20 years,” Krists Ezeriņš, operations director at DHL Latvia says. DHL entered the Latvian market 25 years ago.

Līce reveals that, as the aerodrome infrastructure at Riga Airport continues to develop, a new cargo apron will be completed in the near future, which will allow Riga Airport to double its cargo handling capacity and make Riga Airport more attractive to air cargo carriers. The new apron will feature three large-fuselage aircraft piers with a flexible layout that will facilitate the accommodation of all types of cargo aircraft. Thus, together with the new DHL shipment processing centre and the planned multifunctional logistics centre, the airport will have a state-of-the-art cargo handling infrastructure, allowing Riga Airport to fully participate in the global air cargo market, Līce believes.

Currently, the volume of air cargo transportation through Latvia consists of four business lines: the export and import of high value-added goods, mail and e-commerce, transit air cargo handling and non-military cargo transit to Afghanistan for the needs of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

In 2018, the volume of cargo handled at RIX grew by 10.4 per cent, exceeding 27,000 tonnes. During the first nine months of this year, the airport handled almost 20,000 tonnes – half of the entire air cargo volume in the Baltics.

Riga International Airport is a growing northern European hub. The 20 airlines operating at Riga Airport offer more than 70 destinations in the winter season and more than 100 in the summer season. In 2018, Latvia’s capital airport handled more than seven million passengers – nearly half of the entire Baltic air passenger traffic.

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