After a rather successful summer season, characterized by a consistent recovery of passenger numbers at Lithuanian Airports, the first month of autumn provided much lower results. Passenger numbers in September were two times lower compared to August this year.
In total, all three of the country's air gates served just over 100 000 passengers in September. The largest share was at Vilnius Airport - 66 000 passengers were served here. 23 thousand passengers travelled via Kaunas Airport and 11 000 chose Palanga Airport. These figures are almost half as low as in August - at that time Lithuanian Airports recorded a total of 212 000 passengers.
It is estimated that in September the country's airports also served 13.3% fewer flights (2 954 in total) than in August (3 405 in total). In addition, fewer seats on airplanes were offered - in September, the number reached 304 000, while a month ago the number of offered seats was as high as 364 000.
In September, there were over 68 direct routes at the country's airports, compared to 72 routes in August.
A unified international approach is needed
Comparing the trends of Lithuanian Airports and the European aviation market, they remain the same - the level of recovery of passenger traffic after the summer season has fallen equally sharply in many countries. This was mainly due to the very frequent changes in travel restrictions in different countries.
Assessing last month's results, Aurimas Stikliūnas, Head of Aviation Services at Lithuanian Airports, notices that the forecasts provided in mid-summer are being fulfilled. They indicated that due to stricter and very unequal travel conditions, passenger traffic would stop growing or start declining again in autumn and winter.
"It must be said that the pessimistic aviation scenario due to declining passenger flows for the cold season is coming true. Many regular travellers avoid flights now, not for fear of the pandemic, but because of inconsistent international restrictions that are introduced without coordination with other countries. So far, this is the main obstacle to travel for many people”, says A. Stikliūnas.
According to Mr. Stikliūnas, it is necessary to act in unison and find solutions to change the situation on an international level, otherwise the tourism and aviation sectors, which employ thousands of people, will face even greater challenges in the near future.
As one of the potential solutions, A. Stikliūnas mentions the harmonization of testing processes before departure as an alternative to self-isolation upon arrival, which was proposed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airport Council International (ACI Europe) and other organizations.
About Lithuanian Airports
The Lithuanian airport network includes three air gates in Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga. During 2019, they served 6.5 million passengers and 62,000 flights.