Lithuania to develop Vilnius and Kaunas airports to double passenger numbers

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Lithuania being the most southerly of the three Baltic States, and with Russia and Belarus collectively on either side, together with a border with Poland, the country is, shall we say, in an interesting geopolitical position.

What's more, it hasn't a national airline, and there hasn't been one since FlyLAL, which expired in 2009; except, perhaps, for Small Planet Airlines, which was appropriately named on account of most of its operations being ACMI ones in all corners of that small planet.

The de facto national carrier is, in fact, airBaltic, which has extensive operations at Vilnius, the capital, in particular. But it is headquartered in Riga, the capital of Latvia, which also serves as the air hub for the Baltics.

None of this has prevented Lithuanian Airports, which operates Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga airports, from forging ahead and building a solid aviation base that is supported uniquely by foreign airlines. Traffic growth at Vilnius, in particular, has been impressive over the past 15 years.

Now, with a master plan to 2050 in place since the beginning of 2024, and the first meaningful attempt to assess where air transport is going in the country under way, the company says it intends to double traffic in that period - and possibly before then.

Works will mainly involve new and refurbished terminals. Previous plans for a new airport between Vilnius and Kaunas seem to have been shelved.

Lithuania has a surprising amount going for it, considering its small size, but the threat from the east is always in evidence.

Another factor will be a new fast rail service connecting the two main cities and some others within the Baltic States and beyond, both south and possibly north, and how that will be integrated with air travel.

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This article was written on 12-Jun-2024.