According to Aurimas Stikliūnas, Head of Aviation Services at Lithuanian Airports, consistent recovery of the aviation sector and better results are expected to be achieved in the second quarter of this year, which is associated with the beginning of the summer season and accelerating, albeit slowly, global vaccination.
During the first three months of this year, all three airports of the country serviced 148 thousand passengers, which is 14% less compared to the last quarter last year. In the first quarter, 124 thousand passengers arrived to and departed from Vilnius, which is 1% less than in the said period last year, 19 thousand passengers arrived to and departed from Kaunas (46% less), and 5 thousand passengers arrived to and departed from Palanga (60% less).
In the first quarter, the number of flights in all airports reached 4.2 thousand – 23% less than in the last quarter last year. In Vilnius alone their number decreased by 18% to 3.1 thousand, in Kaunas – by 28% to 841, in Palanga – by 46% to 274. The main flight directions remained almost unchanged. Most passengers chose flights to the United Kingdom, Germany, Turkey, Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, Norway, Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark.
“The beginning of this year can be identified as particularly difficult period for aviation because the challenges of the pandemic had not yet been controlled in many countries, vaccination processes have been accelerating slowly. National security requirements for travellers also varied and have been changing at every turn“, - said A. Stikliūnas.
The situation improved in March
According to A. Stikliūnas, people did not stop wanting to travel, interest in travel is growing rapidly.
“This is also shown by our research on travellers and growing actual flight and passenger indicators at the beginning of April. It is important that mass vaccination of people would be successfully carried out in Europe and that countries would gradually impose less strict travel restrictions. These are essential factors for market recovery in the second quarter of this year“, - says A. Stikliūnas.
According to the representative of Lithuanian Airports, March already confirmed these predictions - compared to February this year, flows of flight and passenger traffic grew by 40% and 48%, respectively. In addition, in March, the number of offered seats on aircrafts at Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga airports was also 27% higher than in February.
“We all are in a new reality, in which we will live for a long time, and it is hard to say if there will soon come a day when the pandemic will simply go away. Therefore, we need to learn to live following safety requirements, to adapt and move forward“, - notes A. Stikliūnas.
At the beginning of the year, Lithuanian Airports took the necessary steps within the organisation in order to adapt to reduced passenger traffic and to ensure more efficient operation as well as to prepare for the recovery period. Therefore, already in May, airlines in Lithuania plan to operate nearly 70 direct routes, during the summer - at least 82 routes.
Lower amounts of cargo have been transported by air
During three months of this year, compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, the total amount of cargo carried by air in three airports decreased by 6% to 4.87 thousand tons.
This year, the biggest amounts of cargo have been transported by air at Vilnius Airport - 3.7 thousand tons. Compared to the last quarter of last year, amount of cargo decreased by 5%. In Kaunas, amount of cargo decreased by 10% to 1.14 thousand tons, and the amount of cargo transported by air through Palanga Airportb increased to 20 tons.