The three international airports of Lithuania served 1.104 million passengers in Q1 2020 – 16.4% less than during the same period in 2019. As the rest of the world, Lithuanian Airports faced a significant drop in travel demand and ultimately the cancellation of nearly all flights. The sudden drop in flight movements is one of the most significant declines in the country’s aviation history.
According to Aurimas Stikliūnas, the Head of Aviation Services at Lithuanian Airports, such numbers were a direct result of the pandemic and its impact on livelihoods around the world. “The virus hit countless businesses across various sectors, but aviation was hit extremely bad. Travel demand decreased gradually until flights nearly disappeared altogether by the end of March”.
A decline in the number of flights can be seen at all three airports. Being the largest in the network, Vilnius Airport served 830 000 passengers, which is 17.6% less than in the same period last year. Kaunas Airport served 211 000 passengers – 13,7 less than in 2019. From January to March, Palanga Airport served 63 000 passengers or 8.1% less than in the same period last year.
The biggest decline was seen in March when many passengers’ travel plans were altered by countries’ border closings and imposed quarantines. In March, Lithuanian Airports served 202 000 passengers which is 56% less than in March 2019. Also, there were 34.4% less flights – a total of just 3 018.
According to Mr. Stikliūnas, aviation plays an important role in the country’s economy. “Lithuanian Airports is the largest supplier of aviation infrastructure in Lithuania. We are a catalyst of economic development. For local or foreign companies to invest and create jobs, they need our infrastructure where air carriers can perform regular flights in and out of the country. In that perspective, the future of countless businesses depends on the revival of aviation activities at Lithuanian Airports”.
Mr. Stikliūnas adds that a lot effort is already being put into preparing for the return of air carriers to the airports. “We want things to get back to normal as soon as possible, so our dedication and joint effort is paramount importance. We are in constant contact with our partners and stakeholders – municipalities, ministries, business and tourism organizations, together with which we are looking into multiple ways how to attract carriers back to our airports. In such extraordinary circumstances, the financial support of air carriers by our partners is of key importance if we want to reinstate strategically important, as well as new routes. From marketing, to De-Minimis, to other incentive programmes – all of these support mechanisms could be implemented in a short period of time and would have valuable long-term impact”.
About Lithuanian Airports
The network of Lithuanian Airports comprises three air gates in Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga. In 2019 they all serviced 6.5 million of passengers and 62 thousand of flights. During this winter season 15 airlines have flights from Lithuanian Airports to 76 regular directions, comprising 51 cities in 26 countries.