On Friday, 24 May, Riga Airport solemnly welcomed the first direct commercial charter flight from Seoul, the capital of South Korea. The flight was operated by Korean Air and organised by one of Korea's largest travel agencies Hanjin Travel.
The Korean Air Airbus A330-200 aircraft brought more than 200 passengers to Latvia who afterwards headed for a trip around the Baltic countries. Currently three flights are planned - on 24 and 31 May, and on 7 June. These flights will be organised by Hanjin Travel with the support of Riga Airport, the Embassy of Latvia in the Republic of Korea, the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia Tourism Department and Live Riga Riga Tourism Development Bureau.
“I am delighted that more and more long-haul flights appear in the network of destinations offered from Riga Airport: a week ago, on 16 May, we celebrated the first charter flight to Madagascar, and today we are welcoming the first aircraft from Korea,” says Ilona Līce, Chairperson of the Board of Riga Airport. “The development of long-haul services is one of the strategic goals of Riga Airport and charter flights are the “first swallows” that allow Riga to mark itself as an attractive destination not only in Europe, where we have already gained a stable position with the widest route network in the Baltics, but also on the world map.”
Andris Ozols, Director of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia, emphasizes: “This event is a benefit to Latvia's recognition in Korea and a proof that the Baltic region can be a convenient European destination for Korean tourists. We see future potential - with successful implementation of this year's charter programme, we will be able to attract new tourist flows from Korea.”
“I'm very pleased that Hanjin Travel cut the first charter flight tape to Latvia, the closest European nation to Korea. It took 28 years to start this charter flight since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1991. I will introduce Latvia's beautiful natural environment and world heritage to Koreans more promptly. Meanwhile, I would like to thank all of the embassy and tourism authorities’ officials for their help, and also, I ask for the Latvian people's great interest and love for Korea,” says director of “Hanjin Travel” Mr. Kyo Wook AHN.
The Korean Air aircraft was traditionally welcomed at Riga Airport with a water salute, and guests from Korea were greeted with a performance by Balti traditional Latvian music ensemble from Babīte.
Riga International Airport is the largest air traffic hub in the Baltics. The 20 airlines operating at Riga Airport offer more than 80 destinations in the winter season and more than 100 in the summer season. In 2018, Riga Airport handled over 7 million passengers – 44% of the entire Baltic air passenger traffic.