The airport has been awarded the Top European Airport Cost Competitiveness Excellence award by The Air Transport Research Society as the most competitive airport in Europe in terms of costs and tariff structure per passenger.
Countries with direct flights from Riga (in summer season, 2019) include Albania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.
The air cargo and/or express package services of international providers like Lufthansa, Schenker BTL, DHL and TNT ensure one-day delivery within Europe and two days for the rest of the world.
A number of Latvia’s utility services are still state-owned or corporate monopoly operations. In order to ensure reasonable pricing in these areas, the Public Utilities Commission of Latvia – whose responsibilities include utilities, telecommunications, post and railway services – regulates the tariff policies of monopoly utility providers. Also, certain utility sectors are being liberalized by opening markets to other service providers. One example is the national gas market. Following new amendments to the Energy Law, as of 3 April 2017, Latvia’s gas market is being liberalized. This means that households will be able to select their preferred gas supplier. Companies listed in the register of natural gas traders will be able to supply gas to consumers in Latvia. Companies having an agreement with Latvijas Gāze will be permitted to use the existing infrastructure for gas supply.
Latvia is endowed with a unique natural resource – the Incukalns Gas Reservoir, which is the largest natural gas-storage reservoir in Europe, with a capacity of approximately 4.4 billion m3. As a result, the country is in a very favourable position in terms of gas supply costs, also providing gas storage for the two other Baltic States and the western border areas of the Russian Federation. In addition to supplying the domestic market, natural gas in Latvia is used in heat generation, power generation, the manufacture of construction materials, agriculture, the food industry, and many other areas.
State-owned Latvenergo provides about 90-95 % of all the electricity consumed in Latvia and ensures its import, transmission, distribution, and supply to consumers. Approximately 75 % of the electricity generated by Latvenergo is from renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources. More than 100 independent producers, operating small-capacity hydro-electric plants, wind generators, or heat and electricity co-generation plants, produce a very small proportion (approximately 13 % in 2018) of electricity in Latvia. All the same, ‘new energy’ generation is growing substantially and is expected to be of increasing importance in the future.
Latvia has had an open electricity market since 2010, allowing domestic and foreign companies to participate. In 2017, there were two leaders in the market – Latvenergo (63 % market share), and Enefit (14 %), the remaining 23 % of the market being divided among smaller players.
Regarding renewable energy in general, it should be noted that while producing slightly more than 39 % of its inland annual energy consumption from renewable energy, Latvia is the EU leader in terms of share of renewables in total energy consumption (Eurostat, 2017). The two most prominent renewable energy sources in Latvia are biomass and hydropower. Nevertheless, there are still opportunities to be developed in the wind power and solar energy segments. Furthermore, despite this impressive track-record, Latvia has also set one of the highest EU 2020 goals for the development of renewables.
District Heating and Water Supply
District heating and water supply services are generally provided by separate operators in each municipality. However, where necessary or more convenient, any company is free to construct its own system as long as it meets existing technical/environmental regulations. The municipalities mostly own local operators, but some have been privatized and have attracted foreign investors. The most notable suppliers are located in Latvia’s largest cities.
Several local and regional waste-management companies throughout the country provide general waste-disposal services. The waste produced in Latvia is recycled both locally and in foreign countries. Several facilities exist for the recycling of metal, glass, paper, polyethylene and PET. The most modern polyethylene recycling facility in the Baltic States is located in Latvia. Several types of hazardous waste (car tyres, oil, and oil filters) are recycled in Latvia. Electronic and electrical equipment is collected and transported abroad for recycling. Latvia also has installations for hazardous waste incineration, mercury recovery from luminescent lamps, water-oil separation facilities, incinerators of oil- and medical-waste, and installations for disinfecting medical waste.
- Optical-fibre cable rollouts are dominated by Tet, which offers up to 500 Mb/s access. Several smaller operators offer services to greenfield sites and in urban areas. Recent regulatory measures are aimed at facilitating wider access to the national broadband network.
- Digital TV uptake has accelerated, with IP TV and cable TV dominating digital access. Analogue switch off was completed in mid-2010, and has thus released spectrum in the 800 MHz band for use in mobile services.
- Increasing competition is evident in the mobile broadband market, as all three mobile networks (Latvijas Mobilais Telefons (LMT), Tele 2, Bite Latvija) offer generous amounts of bundled data. The challenge for mobile operators in the coming years will be maintaining service levels across networks under heavy traffic loads.
- Limited Long Term Evolution (LTE, 4G) services were launched in 2011 and have since been extended. Following the auction of spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band, these frequencies were made available to the four licensees from early 2014.
- The EC’s approval of funding for optical-fibre networks supports the government’s own programme to build a national network.
The largest (by numbers of customers) are: Bite Latvija (GSM), Tet, Latvijas Mobilais Telefons (GSM) and Tele2 (GSM).
During 2018, all mobile operators continued 4G-network rollout and reached more than 90% population coverage at the end of the year. As the result of excellent network coverage and reasonably priced unlimited-data offers Latvia has demonstrated a rapidly increasing acceptance of mobile data services. According to latest research performed by Tefficient AB, with 5.3 GB per month per SIM card, Latvia was in the 6th place in the World in mobile data usage. The fifth generation of mobile networks is expected to roll out within the next years.
Since July 2014, all mobile networks operating in Latvia have had to comply with uniform interconnection tariffs that have been regularly updated by the Public Utilities Commission. The upper limit of the tariffs is now set at EUR 0.0105 a minute.
There are numerous operators offering internet services – DSL, optical, or LAN. In Latvia, 97 % of households with access to the internet have broadband connections above 2 Mbps.
E-commerce has become very popular due to the frequency of internet and web development both in Latvia and worldwide. Many companies have developed online shops, and sales continue to grow. The industries using online sales most are accommodation (76 % of companies in the industry), computer and peripheral system repairs (67 %), and ICT services (31 %).
All banks operating in Latvia, mostly Scandinavian (Swedbank, SEB banka, Luminor Bank), have developed internet banks, which are popular among the Latvian population. 66 % of the population use internet banks for their payments and other non-cash money transactions, which is more than the EU average (54 %). Since 2006, this rate has grown by 3 times and trends show that it is still growing. Nine banks have already developed mobile bank apps, with others planning to do so in the near future.
Currently, there are thousands of public wireless internet points available in Latvia. In Riga alone, users have access to nearly 1 500 free WiFi points, making Riga the capital of free WiFi.
Major investment in telecommunication infrastructure has resulted in very good figures for internet upload and download speeds in Latvia. Consequently, Latvia ranks among the top 15 countries in the world by average measured connection speed, in terms of high broadband connectivity, and also according to average peak connection speed. Latvia is also the European leader in terms of fibre-optic networks, in addition, optical internet connections are available to more than half of the country’s households.
Source: World Broadband Speed League data
As a country with a relatively low density of population, Latvia can provide a range of location choices for both industrial and office operations. There are a number of vacant factory buildings in all the largest cities, along with historic city centres that are gradually developing new functions, evolving from residential into commercial, entertainment, and shopping areas. In addition to the availability of individual properties, a number of business-hosting parks have been established or are being developed for different types of tenants.
Average commercial rents in Riga, 2019 Q1 (EUR/m2 per month)
|Prime shopping centre rents
|Prime high street rents
Source: Colliers International, Real Estate Market Overview, Q1,2019
For greenfield projects, there are no barriers to using the services of local real estate agents and construction companies.
A number of local and international construction companies operate in the Latvian market, making that market very competitive. Latvian construction companies have proven their competitiveness in foreign markets and work well on different scale projects, ranging from general construction to specific installation works. International players are also successfully operating in the Latvian construction market.
The real estate business is also well developed and competitive, featuring companies such as Latio, Colliers International, Kivi Real Estate, Ober-Haus, Imperio Estate, ABC Realty, CBRE and Balsts.
Construction permits in Latvia can be obtained in approximately three months, but for large and technically difficult projects, more time may be required to dealing with the required procedures.