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The heliport is officially opened at the Riga Airport

The heliport built within the framework of the EU Cohesion Fund project was officially opened at the Riga Airport on Friday, 14 July, with the landing of the Air Force of the National Armed Forces helicopter "Black Hawk" and the symbolic greeting of the airport's firefighters and emergency medical service car horns.

The heliport, consisting of a helicopter landing area and specialized parking lot, is an important addition and long-term investment in the infrastructure of the Riga Airport. It will be used to provide emergency medical and rescue services, as well as to accommodate military, government and other helicopters at the airport. The total cost of the project is EUR 3.3 million, of which 85% is financed by the Cohesion Fund, and the remaining amount is co-financed by the Riga Airport.

The heliport and the related newly developed flight procedures will both increase the air traffic safety and improve the quality of Riga Airport's services, including for the needs of state and civil defense and disaster medicine, and will also reduce the CO 2 emissions and noise levels by reducing helicopter manoeuvring on the aerodrome.

As the Minister of Transport, Jānis Vitenbergs, said at the opening event:

"The clock always ticks faster during a crisis, and every second can cost a life. The helicopter landing area will be a big help to the rescue services. Thanks to this, our medics will now have more capacity to provide fast and life-saving care to those in need. Its strategic location will provide easy access to the National Armed Forces, thus increasing our safety. With this meaningful investment of funds from the Cohesion Fund, the Riga Airport becomes a connector and an essential support for everyone and the common good of society, especially during unexpected situations."

Laila Odiņa, Chairperson of the Airport's Board, emphasised:

"The heliport is an important addition to the operational activities and flight procedures of the airport, which provides long-term benefits. In close cooperation with Latvian Air Traffic, the Civil Aviation Agency, the National Armed Forces, extensive and complex work has been done to safely integrate helicopter traffic into the airport's busy daily routine."

Liene Cipule, the Head of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS), said:

"The helicopter landing area at the airport reinforces the readiness of our state services for various emergency situations and events. At the same time, if necessary, it can also be an important support for EMS medics on a daily basis, especially in severe and critical situations, when rapid transportation of patients to a higher-level hospital by a helicopter is required. These are patients with very serious life-threatening injuries, including people with serious illnesses, where every minute can be crucial and immediate assistance is needed, as well as the transport of donor organs, the urgent delivery of doctors and medics of the specialized medical center of the EMS to a medical institution or the scene of the incident are those cases where we have used air transportation options in cooperation with NAF so far."

Within the framework of the Cohesion Fund funded project "Development of safe and environmentally friendly infrastructure at the Riga International Airport", ambitious infrastructure projects are being implemented at the airport with the aim of reducing the impact on the environment and improving the safety of civil aviation.

Support for the modernisation of the airport is foreseen within the framework of the planning document "Sustainable transportation system" 6.1.2. within the framework of the priority line of action "Promoting safety and environmental compliance at the Riga International Airport". On 27 December 2016, Riga Airport signed a contract with the Central Finance and Contracting Agency (CFCA) for the implementation of the project "Development of safe and environmentally friendly infrastructure at the Riga International Airport" (Project No 6.1.2.0/16/I/001) and receiving CF funds. On 3 July 2017, the positive decision of the European Commission (EC) on the project notification was received.

The total available eligible CF funding for the project "Development of safe and environmentally friendly infrastructure at the Riga International Airport" is EUR 23,049,010, including the CF funding of EUR 10,774,241 and Riga Airport funding of not less than EUR 11,564 245.