Agris Sprūde, board member of the air company Aviasabiedrība Liepāja, said that work at the airport has not stopped, although the lack of scheduled flights introduces adjustments. Charter flights are taking place and the base of airBaltic's pilot academy is of great importance.
Last year, more than 4,000 flights were operated at the airport. Liepāja airport is aware that the situation in Ukraine in the aftermath of the pandemic and the war is not easy, but it is still hoped that scheduled flights will resume at some point.
“Of course we want to fly now. [..] There is regional growth stimulated by these flights to Liepāja,” said Sprūde.
Resuming flights is also important for the tourism sector, said Liepāja Tourism Information Bureau Board member Sintija Pusaudze: "We have to take note that in 2027 Liepāja is the European Capital of Culture. This means that Liepāja will have to be connected to the European capitals at a certain level. Logistical solutions may vary, but the best option would be if these direct flights were available."
Expectations are high, but it is needed to adapt to reality at the moment, she continued: "We are currently telling our tourists how [to get here from] Palanga airport. The biggest obstacle why they do not come to us is the three hours in public transport or in a car from Rīga to Liepāja, so we are telling about the Stena Line, which comes from Germany [..] and of course about Palanga airport, which is close but Palanga airport has no public transport. We use the “Liepāja tours” buses that drive in this direction."
airBaltic spokesman Augusts Zilberts said: "During the pandemic, these flights [Rīga-Liepāja] were stopped because of the limits and low demand. We have not returned to this route because the airBaltic fleet no longer has the smaller type of aircraft, as was the case still during the pandemic. The latest Bombardier Q400 plane left the fleet at the end of January this year. From a profitability point of view, it is more beneficial to maintain the same type of fleet that we have."
Despite inflation, war, post-pandemic conditions, and the energy crisis, the number of travelers also tends to rise in 2023. In the upcoming summer season, which will start at the end of March, airBaltic plans to offer flights on 18 new routes, which will be the largest number of routes in one season so far.