Riga Airport Closes the Year with a 10.5% Increase in Passenger Figures
Riga Airport has been recognized as the fourth most punctual airport in the world Operational data on the Airport performance in 2019 show that Riga Airport has closed the year 2019 with an increase of 10.5% in passenger numbers.
Last year, Riga Airport handled more than 7.8 million passengers, which is an increase of 741.8 thousand compared to the previous year.
“The growth figures for 2019 confirm the steady and undisputed leadership of Riga Airport in the Baltics. They also prove that the Baltic market is becoming too narrow for Riga Airport and that the Airport has chosen the right direction for its development - to compete in a wider international arena, aiming to become an emerging aviation hub in Northern Europe,” says Ilona Līce, Chairperson of the Board of Riga International Airport.
She points out that development figures already rank Riga Airport among European growth leaders - according to the Airport Council International (ACI) data, in the third quarter of 2019 Riga Airport was the fifth fastest growing airport in Europe, in the group of airports handling 5-15 million passengers annually.
The fourth most punctual airport in the world
Last week, in the annual study on airport and airline punctuality carried out by the global air traffic analytics company Cirium Riga Airport was recognized as the fourth most punctual airport in the world in the group of medium-sized airports. The punctuality rate of Riga Airport is 88.71%. Riga Airport handled more than 87 thousand flights last year, which is 4.2% more than a year before.
The national airline airBaltic with a market share of 58.5% is the largest carrier at Riga Airport. The second largest carrier at Riga Airport is the Irish low-cost airline Ryanair with 13.4%, which is followed by the Hungarian low-cost carrier WizzAir with 7.7%. The TOP 5 at Riga Airport is closed by the Norwegian low-cost airline Norwegian with 3.9% and the Russian airline Aeroflot with 2.8% market share.
The number of transit passengers is growing
Around a third or 30.4% of the travellers at Riga Airport were transit and transfer passengers, who used Riga Airport's extensive route network and convenient and fast connections to their destinations across Europe and Asia. The number of transfer and transit passengers at Riga Airport increased by 19.4% last year, reaching 2.4 million.
“In order to expand the network of Riga routes into new markets, in 2020 the Airport will continue the development of long-haul flights in both passenger and cargo segments. Our target markets are the United States, China and other countries in the Asian region,” Līce points out, recalling that last year a charter flight programme between Seoul and Riga was successfully implemented, the Airport also launched a regular cargo programme from China.
Riga Airport handles almost half of the Baltic cargo volumes
The head of the company emphasizes that the development of cargo segment is one of the priorities of Riga Airport. Construction of a new cargo apron was started last year, which will allow Riga Airport to double its cargo handling capacity and make Riga Airport more attractive to air cargo carriers from all over the world. At the end of last year, the Airport also signed an agreement with DHL logistics company for the construction of one of the most advanced shipment processing and logistics centres in Europe. In cooperation with investors and international aviation logistics experts, it is also planned to develop a multifunctional cargo logistics centre.
In 2019, Riga Airport handled 27.3 thousand tonnes of cargo, 44.5% of which were direct mail shipments. Last year, almost half of all air cargo in the Baltics was handled in Riga.
Construction for the future breakthrough
"The year 2019 was not only another year of growth for Riga Airport, but also a year of preparation for a future breakthrough," says the head of Riga Airport. She reminds that Riga Airport has already embarked on an ambitious development project that will result in a passenger terminal expansion to up to 12 million passengers per year over the next few years. The expanded terminal will be connected to the Rail Baltica railway station, forming a unified passenger service complex.
The terminal expansion project is currently in the design phase. The design will be developed by the winning supplier - association "One Works, Sintagma, Vektors T” representing the Italian company "Sintagma" specialising in transport infrastructure projects, the Italian company "One Works", which has developed many airport development and expansion projects, including Venice Marco Polo International Airport Reconstruction Project and Brussels Charleroi Airport Passenger Terminal Expansion Concept, as well as Baltic Design Office "Vektors T".
Līce points out that during the period until the commencement of the large-scale construction, which is to start in 2021, the main challenge for Riga Airport is operational efficiency, process automation and investment in employee growth. The Airport wishes to maintain its position as one of the most desirable and best employers in Latvia in the transport and logistics sector, as well as to retain the Platinum category in the annual Sustainability Index assessment. Already this year, the Airport plans to launch non-financial reporting according to the international Global Reporting Index (GRI) standard, thereby enhancing the transparency of the company's operations and demonstrating progress towards sustainable development.
Riga Airport is an emerging Northern European air traffic hub. The 20 airlines operating at Riga Airport offer more than 70 destinations in the winter season and more than 100 in the summer season. The Cirius study recognizes Riga Airport as the fourth most punctual medium airport in the world in 2019.
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Head of the Communication Unit
SJSC Riga International Airport