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Riga airport laid off fewer employees than expected

Riga International Airport Although was planning to lay off more than 500 employees due to the COVID-19 crisis, but only dismissed 353 in reality, said Chair of the airport board, Laila Odiņa, to Latvian Radio.

Odiņa explained that, initially, around 500 airport employees were scheduled to be dismissed collectively, following the more pessimistic recovery scenario for the European aviation industry. In total, there have been three scenarios: the most optimistic, realistic, and pessimistic.

“Riga airport chose a pessimistic forecast in mid-March with a slow recovery at the end of August, with a maximum of 1.6 million passengers at the end of the year,” Odina said. On the basis of the forecast, a total of around 570 employees were expected to be removed.

In mid-April, new forecasts were available, which have been somewhat more optimistic about the recovery of the aviation sector. The management of Riga airport subsequently reviewed its previous decisions on the number, costs and investment of the company's employees.

A “more appropriate, realistic” forecast came into play, which predicted a gradual recovery of activity already in May, reaching around 20%-30% of last year's volume by the end of the summer.

There are currently a total of 945 employees in the company, 353 employees lost their jobs. “We let go considerably fewer employees than it was originally planned. We are already looking at the fact that if these forecasts come to fruition, we could return dismissed employees to work gradually by the end of August,” Odina said.

She acknowledged that the airport also had to cut wages for workers, revise investment plans. In future, much will depend on the European Commission's (EC) decision on State aid to the airport. A positive decision is expected by the airport at the end of July this year, the company's chief executive said.

Odina said that air transport in Europe would be restored gradually. Following the recovery of passenger airlines, Riga airport served 55 000 or 7% of the number of passengers operated in the relevant month a year ago.

"Even if the number of flights increases, the number of passengers will not increase proportionally. Passengers aren't as active fliers yet. In May, planes were filled just up to 33%, 49% in June. I suppose it could reach 70% in July, but in any case we won't go back to the old ways for a long time, "said Odina.


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