Air Lituanica ceases operations; airBaltic takes over Vilnius network
Launched in June 2013 with an inaugural flight to Brussels, Vilnius-based Air Lituanica is the latest victim of a dynamic and unstable airline industry. Interestingly, in the last seven years, Lithuanian aviation has experienced the bankruptcy of flag carrier Lithuanian Airlines (which subsequently became known as FlyLAL) and then Star 1. On 22 May 2015, the ex-Lithuanian flag carrier announced in a press release that it has ceased operations: “Airline management, acting responsibly and seeing risk not to fulfil commitments for the passengers, are stopping all regular flights and will make all the efforts so that travellers will be affected as little as possible. The solution for some passengers is already found.” Following this decision, Air Lituanica has reached an agreement with airBaltic to replace the airline’s flights and transport its passengers within the next eight days.
The same day, airBaltic confirmed that it will take over Air Lituanica’s network and rescue the stranded passengers. Commenting on the announcement, Martin Gauss, CEO, airBaltic, pointed out: “Our home market for airBaltic is Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. We will consolidate and strengthen our service in our home market by offering more direct flights. We announce the first direct routes out of Vilnius to western and northern Europe today and will evaluate additional ones gradually. We will rescue the stranded passengers in the first days following the suspension of flights, and will offer special rescue fares for customers booked for flights later in the summer.” Gauss also highlighted that Air Lituanica’s demise is a strong signal that the three Baltic nations should take a common approach to their air transport, to best support passengers, new economic activity and new jobs. Taking advantage of Air Lituanica’s demise, airBaltic announced immediately the opening of new non-stop airport pairs from Vilnius to Berlin Tegel (four times weekly), Brussels (four times weekly), Paris CDG (thrice-weekly), Stockholm Bromma (twice-daily), Warsaw Chopin (daily) and Helsinki (daily), adding to its existing services to Amsterdam and Riga. Other European airlines to have ceased operations in 2015 are Cyprus Airways on 9 January, eurolot on 31 March and Wizz Air Ukraine on 20 April.
A total of 10 destinations served from Vilnius
Analysis of Air Lituanica’s network for week commencing 12 May reveals that the carrier served 10 destinations in eight countries from its Vilnius base with a combined total of 50 weekly flights. The 686–kilometre sector to Stockholm Bromma was the airline’s most served airport pair with 10 weekly departures. This was followed by daily flights to Amsterdam, a sector already operated by airBaltic with five weekly services.
The following table summarises Air Lituanica’s network for week commencing 12 May 2015:
|Vilnius (VNO)||Stockholm Bromma (BMA)||10|
|Amsterdam (AMS)||7||airBaltic (5)|
|Berlin Tegel (TXL)||6|
|Brussels (BRU)||Brussels Airlines (5)|
|Tallinn (TLL)||Estonian Air (6)|
|Paris CDG (CDG)|
|Source: OAG Schedules Analyser for w/c 12 May 2015. *WF: Weekly Frequency.|
According to OAG Schedules Analyser data for last week, Air Lituanica was the fourth biggest operator at Vilnius, accounting for 7.9% of weekly seat capacity, behind Wizz Air (26%), Ryanair (19%) and airBaltic (8%). Notably, Air Lituanica was directly competing on three of its 10 routes, with airBaltic, Brussels Airlines and Estonian Air. Following the demise of Air Lituanica, Vilnius will lose its links to Munich, Hamburg, Billund and Prague, while the other monopoly routes will be taken over by airBaltic.