After the merger of Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga Airports last year, the Lithuanian air gateways have witnessed a significant increase in passenger and flight volumes, sales and overall net profit over a year-long period.
During the first five months of 2015, the sales of aviation and non-aviation services of Lithuanian airports grew 13 percent compared to the same period last year. A comparison of the first five months of 2014 and 2015 shows that the performance of Lithuanian Airports grew 11 percent over the first year of joint operation.
The increase in sales has enabled the airports to earn more profit, compared to 2014, and it is now 65 percent higher so far this year, in comparison to January – May the year previous.
“I am delighted that a long-planned decision to merge Lithuanian airports served the purpose. As always, there were a number of sceptics but the results of the very first year show the viability of the three international air gateways and the growing prospects: air transport possibilities from Lithuania have never been so broad,” said Minister of Transport and Communications Rimantas Sinkevičius.
The merging of the three airports required a number of complex decisions and clarifying the functions of units and staff. A lot of attention was reportedly paid to the harmonisation of infrastructure in joining the airports as a single network; standardising aviation security and flight safety, as well as increasing the range of services and improving their quality.
"Lithuanian Airports have two faces – one seen by Lithuanian passengers on the interior, the other seen by foreign guests on the exterior. First of all, we are an air gateway into the world for Lithuanians; it is therefore our goal to increase the number of countries and cities reached from Lithuania, thus creating better opportunities for business and tourism. Secondly, we are the first object the foreigner sees in our country; hence, we aim to create as good impression as possible by our services and service quality," said GediminasAlmantas, CEO of Lithuanian Airports.
Delegates at Routes Europe in Aberdeen in April this year were given an insight into the future of the Lithuanian airport network, at the Routes Europe Strategy Summit.
Jurate Baltrusaityte, Chief Commercial Officer, Enterprise Lithuanian Airports, explained that the Lithuanian network is dominated by low-cost carriers, with 43 percent of airline serving the low-cost market.
“It is difficult to see the long-term when you have low-cost carriers dominating your market. It makes it difficult to plan more than three years ahead, as the market is entirely unpredictable,” she said.
This year, the country’s three airports are expected to handle over 3.8 million passengers, with 1.9 million already having travelled through Lithuanian airport during the first six months of 2015.
According to the strategy of Lithuanian Airports, Vilnius Airport is the principal airport in the country, while Kaunas Airport is implementing the AeroHub KUN investment project, which aims at making it the base for aviation-related businesses. Palanga Airport is targeted at the needs of the Klaipėda Region and the handling of inbound tourism. 17 airlines currently operate at Lithuanian airports, offering flights to 60 destinations