Latvia’s airBaltic may grow into a regional air carrier in the future, chief economist of Swedbank Lithuania believes.
AirBaltic jet
© Reuters/Scanpix

“This scenario, which we now see in Lithuania, i.e. that airBaltic takes over flights in the short-term period, in the nearest week, let us hope that airBaltic will continue with direct flights to other capitals,” Nerijus Mačiulis said.

He expects airBaltic to pursue closer cooperation with Lithuania and to become a regional air carrier that will ensure air service between Vilnius and other European capitals.

“If Lithuania and Latvia, perhaps even Estonia were to pursue closer cooperation in the area of flights, we could see the Scandinavian model evolving. At least I see a great many preconditions in place for that. However, Lithuania’s initiative will also be necessary”, Mačiulis said.

Air Lituanica, an airline founded by the city of Vilnius, said earlier on Friday that it was ceasing operations due to financial problems and was cancelling all flights starting from Saturday.

A part of Air Lituanica’s passengers in the next eight days will be rebooked to flights operated by AirBaltic. Information as to flights after May 29 is expected to be provided on Monday at the latest.

In 2008, Lithuania’s air carrier flyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines, which filed for bankruptcy in late January 2009 citing unfair competition in the aviation market as one of the reasons, obtained an order from the Lithuanian Court of Appeal to freeze almost 200 million litas (EUR 58 mln) worth of assets of airBaltic and Riga Airport.

FlyLAL went to court accusing the airport of Riga of providing airBaltic with discounts that were discriminatory against the Lithuanian airline.

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