With the introduction of a comprehensive epidemiological safety programme #ForbidTheVirusFromTravelling, Riga Airport resumed international passenger flights to Vilnius, Tallinn, Oslo and Frankfurt on 18 May 2020. Four flights daily are being operated by the national airline airBaltic.
The programme #ForbidTheVirusFromTravelling provides a set of measures for the protection of the airport and airport employees, and the safe handling of passengers, in order to minimise the risks of the spread of COVID-19. In developing the programme, the airport has consulted with Latvian health authorities and taken into account the recommendations of international aviation organisations.
“In order to contribute to the control of the disease and to take care of the safety of employees and passengers, together with airlines, cooperation partners and specialists, we have done extensive and thorough work to prepare Riga Airport for work in the conditions of the pandemic,” says Laila Odiņa, Chairperson of the Board of Riga Airport. “Additional epidemiological safety measures have been introduced at the airport for both passengers and employees; we have also adapted our infrastructure and improved the work organisation process. The effectiveness of these measures also depends on each of us – how responsibly and carefully we will meet the requirements. That is why I encourage us to travel ourselves, but we should not let the virus travel.”
Raimonds Gruntiņš, Director Regional Affairs, Europe, International Air Transport Association (IATA), adds: “I am very satisfied with the contribution of Riga Airport to creating a biosafety programme, which currently serves as a good example for other European countries working in the conditions of the pandemic. The programme is based on close cooperation between the airport, airlines and public authorities, following the recommendations of international experts and good practices. It covers important aspects that should be taken into account in order to make passenger services and other airport processes as epidemiologically safe as possible, while taking care of both passenger and aircraft service quality and aviation security.”
Given that due to infrastructure and security procedures, it is not always possible to ensure sufficient distance at the airport, an order of the Minister of Transport stipulates that all travellers, except children under the age of seven, must wear a medical mask when at the airport. Entry to the airport terminal is only allowed for passengers in masks, upon presentation of a boarding pass or booking confirmation. The airport urges travellers to carefully observe the requirement to wear a mask during their stay at the airport. The use of masks will be particularly controlled in places where it is difficult to maintain physical distance.
If a passenger arrives at the airport without a mask, it will be possible to buy one at several places both at the entrance and in the terminal itself.
To reduce the number of people present at the airport at the same time, those seeing off and meeting passengers will not be allowed to enter the terminal, unless the passenger needs special assistance to get to the airport.
There are 25 hand disinfection machines throughout the terminal, including 20 non-contact ones. Disinfectants are also available at check-in desks and in boarding areas. There are special signs on the floors and chairs to remind travellers of the importance of keeping distance.
To ensure the safety of employees, the customer service workplaces are equipped with special safety glass. Airport employees are provided with personal protective equipment: face masks, face shields, and disposable gloves.
Buses will be used as little as possible for boarding. If passengers have to be transported by bus, a maximum of 25 people will be transported in one vehicle.