Ambitious growth plans for Riga Airport with RIX Airport City Development

The development of the RIX Airport City, which is part of the airport’s medium-term strategy “Runway 2027”, includes the development of existing traditional aviation services – passenger and cargo transport – and integration thereof with other business activities, from innovation and start-ups, e-commerce, logistics and manufacturing businesses, to various kinds of tourism, hospitality and leisure services.

Despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Riga Airport has managed to maintain its leading position among other Baltic airports. There were three scenarios for 2022: a pessimistic one, if the pandemic continued, an optimal one and an optimistic one. Riga Airport has now reached the optimistic scenario. By mid-October this year, Riga Airport already had handled more than 4 million passengers. There is a good expectation that Riga Airport will meet this year’s targets with surplus and be able to reach around 5.2 million passengers.

In the first half of the year, the number of passengers handled at the airport was 30% higher than expected, reaching 2.22 million, or 448% more than a year earlier. The growth in turnover was positively influenced by changes in passenger structure: a significant increase in the number of direct passengers has compensated for the decrease in transfer passengers due to the ongoing war in Ukraine and related sanctions.

Compared to the EU average, recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic has been more moderate for Riga Airport, which is mainly due to two factors: Latvia, unlike many large European countries, does not have a domestic aviation market, while the war in Ukraine and the related flight bans have prevented the national airline from providing planned transit passenger services.

Looking at the Baltic States, Riga Airport is different from other airports in the Baltic capitals because the airport is an air hub and has an extensive route network and connectivity, with destinations complementing each other. Riga Airport also has a base carrier, airBaltic, working towards the same goal of making Riga a connectivity hub. Moreover, Riga Airport has the infrastructure in place that is suitable specifically for transit passengers and for transition to and from the Schengen Area.

New York the top unserved route from Riga

Riga Airport remains the largest airport and connectivity hub in the Baltics. Although the airport has the widest network of direct destinations in the Baltics, there are still opportunities that have not been explored.

New York is the top unserved route from Riga. New York-Riga used to be served by Uzbekistan Airlines, but currently there are no direct flights to North America from Latvia and the Baltics, so more than 230,000 annual passengers have to fly via connecting flights. London Heathrow is high on the wish list of the business community as well as passengers. Connectivity between Riga and the Balkan region – for example, Sofia, as well as Ljubljana in Central Europe, Kazakhstan and Armenia, should be improved, and Riga would be an ideal transfer point for further travel to the Nordic region. Bremen and Nuremberg are unserved and in high demand in Germany. Aalesund and Stavanger should be offered year long. The Asia Pacific region is popular among travellers from Latvia, so Bangkok, Singapore, Delhi and Beijing are among the top unserved destinations from the pre-pandemic period.

With the number of passengers and flights falling due to the pandemic, the company worked on the development of those activities that were less affected by the pandemic: cargo carriage, future RIX Airport City development, as well as continuing the most important infrastructure development projects.

Riga Airport’s infrastructure and well-organised work processes allow to ensure 99% airport infrastructure punctuality. Even during this summer season, when many airports faced significant delays due to staff shortages in ground handling and aviation security, Riga Airport worked steadily as the company had ensured, in a timely manner, that there was the staff needed to handle the increasing passenger traffic.

The vision of Riga Airport is to develop connectivity and increase the turnover of passengers and cargo, while maintaining the leading position in the Baltics to become a traffic hub of Northern Europe.

New York is the top unserved route from Riga. New York-Riga used to be served by Uzbekistan Airlines, but currently there are no direct flights to North America from Latvia and the Baltics, so more than 230,000 annual passengers have to fly via connecting flights.

“Runway 2027” – Riga Airport’s medium-term strategy

Looking to the future, several large-scale investment projects were implemented at Riga Airport in 2020, including the launch of a new specialised cargo apron, which is the centre around which the airport’s cargo city or RIX Cargo City is to be developed in the future. Apron 2, which is intended for servicing business aircraft, has also been expanded, a helipad has been built and the pavement on part of the runway and taxiways has been renewed. The new rapid exit taxiway and apron centreline lights will allow the airport to become more environmentally friendly by reducing CO2 emissions.

The development of the RIX Airport City, which is part of the airport’s medium-term strategy “Runway 2027”, includes the development of existing traditional aviation services – passenger and cargo transport – and integration thereof with other business activities, from innovation and start-ups, e-commerce, logistics and manufacturing businesses, to various kinds of tourism, hospitality and leisure services.

A business and leisure centre will be developed, with the help of investors, on an area of 24 hectares owned by the airport and located towards Riga from the airport terminal and the future Rail Baltica station. The total area to be built will be up to 340,000 square metres and at least 10% of the area will be dedicated to parks and open public space. Hotel, office and conference centre space, retail, logistics and light industry, with a preference for aviation-related industries, cargo and logistics, e-commerce development, IT, electronics, tourism, and pharmacy sectors have all been defined as the main purposes of the use of the area.

The airport’s strategy “Runway 2027” also provides for the implementation of significant measures in sustainability so that the airport’s long-term business success, strategic goals and tasks can be achieved by responsible and balanced actions in all aspects of sustainability: impact on climate change, effective use of resources, environmental and nature protection goals, economic impact of the airport, employment, transparent management, involvement of the local community, and reduction of noise.

A business and leisure centre will be developed, with the help of investors, on an area of 24 hectares owned by the airport and located towards Riga from the airport terminal and the future Rail Baltica station. The total area to be built will be up to 340,000 square metres and at least 10% of the area will be dedicated to parks and open public space.


Comments

  1. Andreas says:

    New Airbus 321 XLRs could finally make the dream true – the Baltics and Riga are a great destination. Some airlines should bite the bait!

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