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4 Feb 2015

AirBaltic may open flights to Belarus’ regional airports

RIGA, 4 February (BelTA) – The company AirBaltic which now offers flights from Riga to Minsk does not exclude the possibility to open flights to Belarusian regional airports in the future, AirBaltic CEO Martin Gauss told reporters in Riga on 4 February, BelTA has learned.

“As for the opening of flights to the regional airports, for example, in Vitebsk and Gomel, we are not planning to do it today. But we do not exclude the possibility in the future,” Martin Gauss said.

He stressed that AirBaltic maintains close cooperation with the Belarusian air carrier Belavia. The companies have signed an agreement on mutual flights. “The agreement envisages three flights per week from Riga to Minsk. If it is necessary to increase the number of flights on this market, we will discuss the possibility with Belavia,” Martin Gauss added. He also said that Belavia is a partner of AirBaltic, not a rival. “Of course, we compete with each other, but not on the European market,” the CEO explained.

When asked about the impact of the situation in Ukraine on the performance of the company, Martin Gauss said that last year AirBaltic closed flights to Simferopol and Donetsk. At the same time, the air carrier has stepped up work on the European market to balance the financial results. As far as Moscow is concerned, the number of flights to the Russian capital was increased in 2014. Starting from December 2014, the inflow of passengers from the Russian capital almost stopped du to the foreign currency crisis. “Starting from the second half of January, the number of passengers has increased. We are currently mulling over our future strategy regarding these destinations,” Martin Gauss said.

According to the vice president of the company, now it is difficult to make forecast about the prices for AirBaltic tickets in 2015. “They will depend on three factors: the behavior of competitors, foreign exchange difference, and the cost of fuel,” Martin Gauss explained. He stressed that due to the decrease in oil prices on the global markets the air carrier has recently reduced tariffs by about 10%.

AirBaltic is an open joint-stock company founded in 1995. The fleet of the company which offers direct flights from Riga to 60 destinations consists of 25 aircraft. In 2014 the international company OAG named AirBaltic the most punctual air carrier in the world. The state owns 99.8% of AirBaltic’s shares. Earlier the Latvian government made an official statement about the sale of the stake of 50% minus one share. “AirBaltic is a profitable company; therefore, there is no need to hurry with the deal,” Martin Gauss said.

According to the air carrier, in 2014 AirBaltic made 384 flights to Belarus and carried about 16,000 passengers. Since 2011 the passenger traffic to our country has been stable. About 60% of passengers on the Minsk-Riga flights proceed to various destinations.

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