Despite the crisis in the aviation sector caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Riga Airport maintains its strategic future goal to become a Northern European air traffic hub, the Chairperson of the Airport Board Laila Odina emphasised at Riga Aviation Forum on 10 September 2020.
“This crisis has given us some extra time to prepare for new challenges,” says Odina. “By investing in the development of state-of-the-art infrastructure solutions today, in the future it will be possible to organise work more efficiently and reduce costs per serviced passenger or aircraft, which will boost the airport’s competitiveness both in terms of costs and environmental sustainability.”
This summer, with the support of the Cohesion Fund and its own funds, a number of large-scale investment projects worth more than €15 million have been implemented at Riga Airport. It has reconstructed and upgraded part of the runway and taxiways, totalling more than 11km, and built a helipad as well as new aircraft and helicopter stands. These investments will not only enable Riga Airport to increase its operational capacity and offer its customers better services, but also make the airport more environmentally-friendly, reducing CO2 emissions and saving resources.
Riga Airport’s new cargo apron, with underground hydrant systems and multi-category aircraft stands, will start operating this autumn, which together with the future development of the cargo logistics centre will allow the airport to double the volume of cargo handled, reaching 60,000 tonnes per year. The international logistics company DHL has already started construction of its regional parcel handling and sorting centre in the territory of the future RIX Cargo City. Another 15,000sqm of land where it is possible to develop cargo handling and servicing warehouses in an area of up to 9,000sqm are waiting for investors.
The airport is also continuing work on the new passenger terminal project, so that it can start as soon as the company’s business results allow.
“The airport is expected to restore the number of passengers served before the crisis in a few years,” says Odina. “This is also confirmed by the development plans of airBaltic’s updated business plan. Insufficient airport capacity cannot be an obstacle to the implementation of these development plans in Riga.”
She also emphasised that the new epidemiological safety requirements are likely to persist in the long-term and that the airport will need additional space to implement these standards without compromising airport capacity and service quality.