On 4 August 2009, for the first time in the history of RIGA International Airport, a charter flight of Japan Airlines brought to Latvia a group of tourists and representatives of the leading Japan tourism organizations and public institutions.
The Boeing 747 aircraft of Japan Airlines with the tourists and the senior executives of the Japan tourism industry on board landed in RIGA International Airport at 15:30. The aircraft was received with a water christening ceremony and the guests were welcomed with Latvian traditional rites.
The first tourist group arriving in the Baltic states on a charter flight from Japan was received by Krišjānis Peters, Chairman of the Board of RIGA International Airport, Ainārs Šlesers, Vice Mayor of Riga City Council, Artis Kampars, the Minister of Economics, and H.E. Takashi Osanai, Ambassador of Japan to Latvia. This event was made particularly significant by the fact that together with the tourists on this flight were Mr Yoshiaki Hompo, the Commissioner of Japan Tourism Agency, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Mr Akira Kanai, Chairman of Japan Association of Travel Agents, and other officials and senior executives of the leading Japan tourism industry organisations.
„In our talks with the Japanese counterparts we have discussed the development of direct air traffic to and from Riga. These charter flights are the first step on this way and a challenge for us to prove that we are eligible and reliable partners. The advantage of RIGA International Airport is its excellent position for transcontinental flights and handling of transit passengers. It makes us an attractive business choice for the big airlines operating routes from Asia to Europe and America,” said Krišjānis Peters, Chairman of the Board of SJSC RIGA International Airport.
The geographic situation of RIGA International Airport gives Latvia an opportunity to become a transit hub in the Baltic for the travellers from Japan and the first visits of the Japanese tourists confirm this statement.
RIGA International Airport has been ascertained to comply with the security standards of the Japanese airlines and Boeing 747 type aircrafts can land at RIGA International Airport thanks to the runway extended and modernised last year.
Japan Airlines (JAL) is the second biggest airline in Asia in terms of passenger traffic. JAL Group flies to 220 airports in 35 countries, including 59 airports in Japan. The international flight network of JAL Group covers 250 direct passenger traffic destinations and 28 cargo transport destinations. In Japan JAL Group operates 143 direct routes.
The fleet of JAL Group counts 270 aircrafts, including Boeing 747 and 777. Currently JAL Group is renewing its fleet with a view of including the latest Boeing 787 „Dreamliner”.
JTB Corp. is the largest tourist agency in Japan and one of the biggest in the world with a vast global network of representative offices. The trip of the Japanese tourists to the Baltic states was arranged by the leading Japan tour operator JTB World Vacations, one of the affiliates of JTB Corp.