Although passenger traffic steeply declined, the number of cargo flights almost doubled last year
Riga Airport has reported that only 2.01 million passengers were handled at the site throughout 2020, displaying a steep drop of 74.2% compared with the previous year’s figures.
Flag carrier, airBaltic, carried around 57% of passengers who passed through the airport last year. Ryanair was next with a total of 16% of customers using the low-cost airline, whilst 9% flew with Hungarian carrier Wizz Air.
Riga continued operations despite the hit from the pandemic. A quarter of all passengers passing through the airport in 2020 were getting transfers to other destinations. A total of almost half a million travellers used the airport as a point of transfer throughout last year.
Flights to London, Oslo, Frankfurt and Helsinki were amongst the most popular destinations to travel to within the EU in 2020. Flights to Moscow continued to stay in the top five destinations, it was also one of the most popular routes before the pandemic hit.
“Riga Airport started 2020 as one of the fastest growing European airports – in January and February, the number of passengers increased by 12.4 and 13.6%, respectively,” said Laila Odina, chairperson of the airport board. “This posed challenges for the airport in terms of capacity adequacy, with the main task being to implement major investment projects accurately and quickly, while maintaining a high level of service and seeking flexible short-term solutions to handle the growing passenger flow.”
“However, COVID-19 changed the travel environment completely, and the airport’s main task was to put in place effective epidemiological safety measures to protect its employees and passengers and to ensure economic stability in the face of a sharp drop in passenger numbers by developing activities that were less affected by the pandemic such as Airport business park, cargo, maintenance etc.”
Last year, 35,592 flights were handled by Riga Airport. This is a 59.1% decline compared with 2019, plus a 68% in passenger flights.
Comparatively, the number of cargo flights have almost doubled, with other sectors such as business, military and technical aviation increasing by up to 82.6%.
During 2020, the amount of freight handled at the airport decreased by 15%. However, cargo carriers imported and exported around 40% more cargo than the previous year – a total of 23,000 tonnes.