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Vilnius Airport rebuilds route network after FlyLal collapse and airBaltic cutbacks

Image: Vilnius airport
Vilnius airport again has the wind in its sails: Several airlines have quickly acted to fill the void created after FlyLal failed last January and airBaltic temporarily cut services.

vilnius.jpgWhen FlyLal, the national airline of Lithuania, ceased operations in mid-January 2009, it signalled the end of rapid growth at Vilnius Airport, the main airport serving the country. Between 2000 and 2008, passenger numbers at the airport had quadrupled from just over half a million to just over two million helped by the country’s accession to the European Union on 1 May 2004.

The collapse of FlyLal was unfortunate timing as Vilnius was named as one of the two European Cities of Culture for 2009 (the other being Linz in Austria).

CHart: Traffic
Source: Vilnius Airport

Passenger numbers fell by 35% in 2009 as airBaltic also axed a number of routes at the end of 2008 and then again in April 2009. As a result, traffic levels in 2009 fell back to the levels of 2005. Traffic demand still continued to peak in July and August.

Chart: Seasonality
Source: Vilnius Airport

airBaltic expanding once more

Image: Vilnius airport
airBaltic is back as a major player at Vilnius Airport, launching five routes in less than a month. Four had been operated before, while the former FlyLal route Vilnius-Amsterdam is new to the airline.

Between September 2008 and April 2009 airBaltic dropped nine direct services from Vilnius to Barcelona, Berlin, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Milan, Munich, Paris CDG, Rome Fiumicino and Stockholm. However, starting in mid-December, the airline has gradually re-instated some of these services starting with Paris (18 December), Munich (19 December), Berlin Tegel (21 December) and Rome (11 January), and also added Amsterdam (4 January).

With Brussels Airlines starting Brussels flights last March, Aer Lingus launching flights to London Gatwick last September and Skyways beginning Stockholm flights last June, as well as the launch of new local start-up Star1, the airport is gradually recovering its network. A summary of the changes between August 2008 and January 2010 is shown below.

Route Summer 2008 Winter 2009
Amsterdam FlyLal airBaltic
Berlin Tegel airBaltic airBaltic
Brussels airBaltic
FlyLal
Brussels Airlines
Copenhagen airBaltic airBaltic
SAS
Dublin Aer Lingus
airBaltic
FlyLal
Aer Lingus
Star1
Frankfurt FlyLal
Lufthansa
Lufthansa
Helsinki airBaltic
Finnair
Finnair
Kiev FlyLal Donbassaero
London airBaltic (LGW)
FlyLal (LGW, STN)
Aer Lingus (LGW)
Star1 (STN)
Milan Malpensa airBaltic
FlyLal
Star1
Moscow FlyLal (SVO)
UTAir (VKO)
UTAir (VKO)
Yamal (DME)
Munich airBaltic airBaltic
Oslo airBaltic
Norwegian
Norwegian
Paris CDG airBaltic
FlyLal
airBaltic
Prague Czech Airlines Czech Airlines
Riga airBaltic
FlyLal
airBaltic
Rome Fiumicino airBaltic
FlyLal
airBaltic
Stockholm Arlanda airBaltic
FlyLal
Skyways
Tallinn airBaltic
Estonian Air
FlyLal
Estonian Air
Vienna Austrian Austrian
Warsaw LOT LOT
Source: OAG Max and airline booking tools

Destinations no longer served include western European cities such as Barcelona (though Star1 briefly served Girona last summer), Düsseldorf and Hamburg, as well as Central European destinations such as Chisinau (Moldova), Palanga (Lithuania), Odessa and Simferopol (both in Ukraine) and Tbilisi (Georgia).

Riga remains busiest route; Copenhagen gets SAS boost

airBaltic’s five-times daily service to its main hub in Riga in neighbouring Latvia is the airport’s busiest route, although the start next week of a new double-daily SAS service to Copenhagen (using CRJ 900s) will offer locals an alternative hub to transfer through to those destinations not currently served non-stop from Vilnius. Until last January, SAS was a major shareholder in airBaltic but then sold all its shares in the airline. As a result, they are now proper competitors.


Comments

  1. Jerzy Jemiolo says:

    According to the VNO airport’s website TBS will be served again by Georgian Euroline (4L) twice weekly, starting from February 2.

  2. RIX says:

    AMS is served by Estonian Air too.
    It’s a bit sad that KLM, airFrance, BA doesn’t serve at least one destination in Baltic or Delta and AA don’t offer at least connected flights to America. The Baltic region with 6,5 mln pax in 2009 and 8 mln catchment area in Baltic well-deserved a bit competition to Star Alliance airlines in Baltic like Turkish airline, SAS, LOT or Lufthansa.

Comments are closed