Latvia’s Riga airport prepares for the resumption of flights

The number of passengers passing through the Baltic’s largest hub by the end of the year could be 1.6 million instead of the planned eight million

Riga airport Following a declaration of state of emergency in Latvia to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease in the country, international passenger carriage to and from Riga Airport has been halted since 17 March (RIX)

In preparation for the proposed May 13 resumption of international passenger traffic after the end of the emergency situation in Latvia, Riga International Airport (IATA code: RIX) is working on additional preventative measures at the airport terminal to protect employees and passengers from the spread of Coronavirus, as well as planning for the necessary personnel and infrastructure resources needed for a gradual increase in flights.

The Baltic region’s largest airport is to employ extensive new measures to protect its employees and passengers in the desire to limit the spread of COVID-19. These include health safety measures to reduce the risk of spread of the disease in the check-in areas, at security control points, at boarding gates, and on airside buses, as well as the installation of safety glazing barriers at check-in desks and the provision of personal protective equipment for staff members. At the same time, intensified cleaning and disinfection measures are planned in the terminal premises, including equipment and buses, and medical staff will be employed to monitor individual passenger health.

“Work at Riga Airport has continued during the emergency situation by serving repatriation, cargo and business flights. Therefore, from an operational point of view, the airport is now ready to handle passenger flights as soon as permission is given to resume them. However, we are aware that the airport will have a particularly important role in curbing the spread of COVID-19 once flights resume, so it is our job to work with airlines and service providers to carefully and thoughtfully prepare infrastructure and implement safety measures in order to minimise the risks of infection and protect our employees, passengers and airport guests,” says Laila Odiņa, the recently-appointed chairperson of the board of Riga Airport.

Airline data available to the capital city airport on the resumption of planned flights, after the lifting of the emergency situation, shows that the resumption will take place gradually, taking into account both travel and communication restrictions in Latvia and other countries, and changes in the habits of people. Many foreign markets will remain limited even after the crisis, and fewer flights to Riga are expected to take place for several years to come. The expected number of passengers by the end of this year could be around 1.6 million, with 4.6 million next year, instead of the previously planned eight million.

Based on these numbers – and on the forecasts of international aviation organisations – the airport has developed three recovery scenarios, assuming a medium-rate recovery forecast as the baseline scenario. In this picture, infrastructure and staff resources have been planned to ensure that the airport is ready to respond flexibly to airline demand.

Last week Latvian government has decided to support Riga Airport with the total amount of EUR54.42 million, by increasing the company’s share capital by EUR49.91 million and cancelling the EUR4.51 million dividend payment for the previous year, which will remain at the airport’s disposal.

At the same time, RIX is continuing to take measures to ensure the company’s long-term stability by reducing operating costs, optimising staff resources and reviewing the investment programme.

Meanwhile, a state of emergency has been declared in the country to limit the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19 disease in Latvia, and international passenger carriage to and from Riga Airport has been halted since 17 March this year.

Riga Airport, a northern European hub, served more than 7.8 million passengers in 2019.

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