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Tuesday 19.03.2019 | Name days: Jāzeps
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Luhse: airport Riga posts 1.8 million lats profit

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Arnis Luhse

Grand plans of servicing as many as 20 million travellers per year is a bit too much, but our estimates show we can strive towards seven million passengers a year in five years time. If we are especially lucky and the Chinese start flying to Europe and the Kazakhs to the U.S. via Riga, the number could hit 12 million, says Arnis Luhse, head of Riga airport.

Currently we service two million transit passengers and three million of our own. Theoretically and judging from other countries experience, we could gather some three million more passengers of our own. But we cannot go any further. What can reach even higher is airBaltic or a similar transit carrier. No other airline that is not a national one is to set up a transit hub here. It is only national companies that do that, not low-cost ones, which are strictly against it, he told the newspaper Latvijas Avīze.

In the first five months of 2011, the airport posted 1.8 million lats profit versus 3.5 million lats in losses a year earlier.

Asked whether he is feeling the politic side of his job, Luhse says it is an issue in economic matters.

We now have to coordinate airport Riga terminal project. On the other hand, there is also airBaltic project. We need a politic decision but there is no definite answer. We need clear development vision, he adds.

Luhse explains that if the government approves airBaltic’s proposal, which provides construction of a new terminal, the airport will be left with a mere runway.

But at least I will know what to do further. The airport consists also from cafes, shops and other services plus the highly requiring runway. Airport Riga building will be left nearly empty, while still demanding management costs, he says.

This can turn out as a semi-hidden privatization. airBaltic is now collaborating with Nort Hub Services dealing with passenger arrivals and departures, so the airport misses out on three million lats a year. Locker rooms are the only thing they rent from the airport. Previously airBaltic also rented land for the terminal construction, however, the airline is not meeting one of the contractual conditions that rental rights come into force only when it settles all debts, Luhse says.


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