The government and Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma are also responsible for the decision regarding the choice of investor for Latvia’s national airBaltic airline because the decision was made solidarily, said Transport Minister Anrijs Matiss after a briefing on Wednesday, 4 November.
He partially admitted being made a scape goat, adding that he probably should have worked more actively. At the same time, Matiss said Prudentia is responsible for finding an investor for airBaltic. The company offered the government only one possible option; the government voted in favour of it. Transport Ministry has been looking for an investor throughout October, after the government and Prudentia had decided to part ways.
Matiss explained that he only had a 30 second talk with Straujuma yesterday. During this brief talk, Matiss was criticized for finding only one potential investor.
Matiss did not exclude the possibility that the chosen investor might refuse the deal, because the government has requested additional requirements to make sure the deal is safe for the country.
Matiss explained that the request for his resignation came as a surprise to him. Nevertheless, does not intend to resign, because resigning when important decisions are to be made would paint him a coward.
He explains that he has been reluctant to accept the chosen investor. Regardless, the decision to approve Prudentia’s investor was made jointly by the government. In addition, it is only a temporary decision. The airline currently has negative capital. The extent of losses for previous years is EUR 80 million. It is now planned to fill this hole with investor’s money. Matiss explained that the goal of any investor is to make money. If the airline is properly taken care of, the investor will be able to sell his stocks to a strategic investor at a higher price. When asked about concerns regarding the procurement of Russian aircraft for airBaltic, Matiss explained that the airline is responsible for that. The minister admits that the first time he had heard of the attracted investor was back in August. He also had information about identified risks related to the investor’s attraction. It was the government’s objective to prevent risks.
Answering the questions as to why it was necessary to attract an investor just now, Matiss explained that the airline is unable to cover advance payments of the deal for the procurement of new Bombardier aircraft with its revenue alone and it is not possible to take a loan in a bank – the airline’s capital is negative. Breaking the contract with Bombardier would not benefit airBaltic in any way. External funding is necessary.
He added that the next transport minister will have many challenges ahead of him. He recommended potential candidates to come with ready ideas.
As previously reported, Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma has requested the resignation of Transport Minister Anrijs Matiss. She has already informed him of her decision.
The reason for the resignation request lies in the minister’s delays, reluctance to report progress in the situation at airBaltic and lack of any strategic vision for the future of the airline.
«The minister has lost my trust. I believe supervision over airBaltic was insufficient,» – said Straujuma