Tukums airport hopes for renewal of activity

The Tukums airport, built before WWII, has undergone many changes over time – even nuclear heads had been deployed there. After renovation, the airport has been in decline for sixteen years since its licence was revoked due to possible criminal events. The municipality now wants to re-establish it, but the State does not have an interest in the site, Zemgale regional television reported on August 25.

The terminal built less than 15 years ago and the approximately 2,000-meter long runway was designed to be a spare airfield if Rīga airport was blocked. In 2015, the airport was stripped of its certificate because of suspicions that one of the owners was linked to the alleged smuggling of weapons.

The municipality of Tukums, which is also a minor shareholder, said it was still looking forward to restoring the certification and developing nearly 500 hectares of surroundings.

“At the moment, 2,200 flights per year would be allowed at the existing EVAN, which would be three flights per day. We want this site to develop as an airfield, we are currently working on a development plan for the surrounding area as an industrial park,” said Gundars Važa, president of the Tukums municipality council (Latvian Regional Alliance).

However, according to Lursoft data, the facility belongs to four private companies, 19 employees are employed at the airport, and their salaries and terminal maintenance are based on the costs of maintaining private aircraft. Without certification, the airport may not operate commercial flights or provide services to third parties. Could such a site become strategically important for the country?

The director of the Transport Ministry's Aviation Department Artūrs Kokars said: “This planning framework states that there are three national civil aviation airfields: the international airport “Riga”, the airport “Liepaja”, which is also certified for commercial flights, and the Ventspils airfield.”

The Ministry also stated that if the Tukums airport, as a private merchant, had changed ownership and tried to restore airport certification, it would be a very expensive process at the moment.

Moreover, in the knowledge that certification has been waived, if at present there is a take-off and landing at the aerodrome, it shall be the responsibility and risk of the pilot himself. Consequently, the future of this airport is unclear, nor is it clear whether a change of ownership is expected, but the municipality of Tukums still looks forward to any solutions to make a profit.

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