Demonstrating its leading position in the Baltic region the Riga International Airport achieved a new passenger traffic record in 2016 exceeding the threshold of 5.3 million passengers. The lucky 5 390 000th passenger Airi Noor arrived at the Airport with a flight from Tallinn on December 28th, operated by the Latvian national carrier airBaltic. Riga International Airport is the largest air traffic hub in the Baltics. The 20 airlines operating at Riga Airport offer 60 destinations in the winter season and 79 in the summer season. London, Moscow, Oslo, Frankfurt and Helsinki were the year’s most popular destinations (cities) from Riga Airport. In turn, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, Norway and Finland were the most frequently visited countries.
The Airport reached its first million of passengers on 13 December 2004. Two years later, on 17 October 2006, the Airport greeted its two-millionth passenger; a year later the Airport served 3 million passengers, while in 2009 - already four million. Riga International Airport welcomed its five-millionth passenger on 21 December 2011, while last year the Airport handled 5.16 million passengers.
The Airport development is closely linked to the growth of the national airline airBaltic, which in 2016 carried more than half of the passengers of the Riga Airport. airBaltic serves direct flights from Riga to 60 destinations. The airline offers convenient connections via Riga to its network spanning Scandinavia, Europe, Russia, CIS and the Middle East. In addition, airBaltic also offers new direct flights from Tallinn and Vilnius.
The Airport continues to develop and expand its capabilities. Last November, it inaugurated the new North Pier. The two floors of the new pier offer the passengers 19 new boarding gates, three airbridges, two new shops and five cafes, playgrounds for children, as well as spacious and comfortable waiting rooms. The total area of the pier is 9828.39 m2; with the premises for arriving passengers and the gallery connecting the terminals, which were built on the first stage of the project, the area amounts to 17 340 m2.
Owing to the new buildings of the pier, Riga International Airport is now fully capable of handling long-range flights — from the viewpoint of both the technical issues and passenger comfort. As Riga Airport is becoming a regional transit hub, a further increase in the number of transit passengers is expected: even now, they account for 27% of all the passengers. For passengers on long flights, the new pier offers a spacious and comfortable transit zone, while the hydrant system installed around the pier for direct fuel supply will make it faster to fuel up large aircraft. The new aircraft stands are located close to the terminal, allowing passengers access aircraft easier and faster, using busses less frequently.
The development of the airport has allowed the Airport to service larger aircraft. On 6 January this year, for the very first time in the history, the Airport serviced Boeing 787 Dreamliner, an aircraft operated by Uzbekistan Airways in the route Tashkent - Riga - Tashkent. This aircraft will complement the carrier's Boeing 767 fleet in flights from Riga to Tashkent and New York. Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the most fuel-efficient Boeing aircraft and the first, in the design of which mainly composite materials have been used. The aircraft has 244 seats.
Normunds Feierbergs, Member of the Board of SJSC Riga International Airport, noted: “Forecasting future increase in passenger numbers, the Airport is already planning the next steps for further improvement of the passenger terminal, expanding the check-in hall, the baggage claim and sorting areas, security control area, as well as constructing of a multi-storey car park and connection to the newly built ‘Rail Baltic’ Riga Airport station.”
Source: Riga International Airport