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RIGA International Airport warns of the problems threatening development of the airport and the aviation industry

By its decision of 29 September 2009 the Cabinet of Ministers has ordered the RL Ministry of Transport by 31 December 2009 to issue information on the solutions of the short- and long-term development of RIGA International Airport. The resolution to divert 80 per cent of the profit to the state budget and the intended four-time reduction of the government subsidy undermine the prospects of sustainable development, attraction of foreign investments and the security and service quality of passengers and airlines.

„RIGA International Airport is the most competitive ‘product’ of Latvia. By ignoring this fact and not taking logical, considerate steps that even do not require public funds the state risks to lose hundreds of millions of lati,” said Krišjānis Peters, Chairman of the Board of RIGA International Airport.
 
According to the survey conducted by the international consultancy and accounting firm Ernst & Young, in 2007 the indirect impact of the aviation industry on the GDP of Latvia accounted for  2.2%-2.8% or 312-396 million lati whereas in 2006 it equalled  2.1%-2.9% of GDP or 234-321 million lati.
 
„We must not ignore the fact that in 2007 the aviation industry contributed to Latvia’s GDP almost 400 million lati. My estimates for the year 2008 are similar. The situation demands that we elaborate and implement the aviation policy endorsed by all the stakeholders creating favourable conditions for development of RIGA International Airport,” said K. Peters.
 
Growing competition among the Baltic airports raises particular concerns, especially the decision taken by Vilnius Airport to decrease the passenger charge. RIGA International Airport is of the opinion that the decision of Vilnius Airport is adopted thanks to a coordinated and considerate policy of the Lithuanian government and Vilnius Airport focussed on creation of most favourable conditions for attraction of airlines and passenger flows to Vilnius Airport.
 
K.Peters said: „It is easier to achieve the goal than to hold on to it. At present RIGA Airport is handling almost two thirds of the entire air passenger traffic in the Baltic. Only five years ago all three Baltic states were in equal positions.  Thanks to a clearly defined goal, consistent strategy and focussed work we have attained our current position. The competition among the airports is tough. Errors and ill-considered actions will be used against us to seize the market share that we fail to protect. The consequences can be dramatic – sliding back to the status of a provincial airport.”
 
Neither RIGA International Airport nor the aviation is a self-contained industry isolated from the national economy, it is a major catalyst in attraction of investments, development of related industries, and moreover, it still is the showcase of Latvia.  Our country can lose more than the money paid by passengers; it can lose its face. The airport is the outpost of the country encountered by the arriving and transit passengers,” K.Peters pointed out.
 
RIGA International Airport urges to evaluate its positive impact on the economy and together with the stakeholders of the aviation industry to agree upon the short- and long-term goals of RIGA Airport and the preconditions of their implementation: future tariff policies, competition guidelines and infrastructure development targets.