Before the pandemic, around 20 airlines were offering flights from Riga, but now their number has fallen to nine. Airport spokeswoman Laura Kulakova hopes that a gradual increase in the number of airlines will be achieved in the wake of the crisis.
“At the moment, the list of flights from Riga airport and the composition of airlines is quite variable, given that airlines are adjusting their routes and flights to restrictions both in Latvia and in other countries. “If we are talking about this week, nine airlines – airBaltic, Finnair, Lote Bellavia, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Wizzair and Aeroflot – already provide flights this week,” Kulakova said.
She said that the positive trend was that those airlines working in Rīga before the pandemic had shown an interest in returning here. In her opinion, competition among existing airlines is not tense.
“At the moment, travel and air travel are in such a deep crisis that we cannot talk about competition at this time. There are so few passenger shipments, airplanes flying half-empty and almost empty. Just to ensure this connectivity,” she said.
Martins Gauss, CEO of the Latvian national airline airBaltic, said that passenger traffic is changing monthly and the company currently holds more than 60% of the market share.
“Competition at Riga airport is very healthy, because there are many airlines working here. Every year, the composition of airlines changes. We haven't lost market leadership in recent years, and I don't think it could happen in the future,” said Gauss.
Gauss said that competition is increasing. At Riga airport, airlines from other countries are either launching or expanding. However, they do not see the airport as the main market, it is only one of the destinations.
On Wednesday, for example, the Irish low-price airline Ryanair announced future plans at Riga airport. British Airways also announced that it will temporarily resume flights between Riga and London this summer, first time since stopping the flights in Mrch 2007. At the time, the airline explained this decision by saying that the route was not profitable.
In general, the effects of the pandemic at Riga airport are felt as the variety of airlines and consequently competition has decreased. Passengers will feel it with narrower choices for destinations as well as higher ticket prices. However, ticket prices will not rise infinitely, because there are not so many who fly. Airlines are also increasing the range of service and making it more competitive and more enjoyable to fly.