Airport chief – on passengers’ reluctance to save, future directions and the cost of a direct flight to the US | Business

According to A.Stikliūnas, by the end of the decade, the flow of travelers served at Vilnius and Kaunas airports could be doubled, but in the course of 10 million. towards the goal of passengers, it will be necessary to decide in principle what to do next – to expand the existing ones or to build a new airport.

The idea of ​​the country’s main airport between Vilnius and Kaunas was raised back in 2019, but after the pandemic shook the world, it took a back seat. However, says A. Stikliūnas, as the traffic of Lithuanian airports is rapidly recovering to the pre-pandemic level, this issue is coming back again.

“If we evaluate further periods, it is natural that a principled political decision on how to develop airports must be made in the perspective of 3-4 years: whether to expand one of the existing ones or to build a new one.

This is a separate question that should be examined in different sections. Starting with the business model, creating an ecosystem, ending with both environmental and social aspects,” interview 15min A. Stikliūnas spoke.

Until 2030 Lithuanian airports will aim to offer passengers 150 destinations – this is provided for in the Lithuanian aviation guidelines presented this year. Now it is possible to fly to 90 destinations from Lithuania, so in order to achieve this goal, 7-8 destinations should be added every year.

Žygimantos Gedvilos/BNS photo/Aurimas Stikliūnas

It is true that the priority of Lithuanian airports is not simply to increase the number of new destinations, but the quality of accessibility, emphasizes A. Stikliūnas. “Strategic markets do not change – Scandinavian countries, Great Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland. We need to strengthen our reach to these countries. We are talking about improving existing routes, say increasing the number of flights to Amsterdam, but we are also thinking about Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, London Heathrow Airport, In Switzerland – Geneva, in Germany – Dusseldorf, Stuttgart. There are a number of areas where we see that direct access is not enough,” he commented.

The interviewer also shared the nearest predictions. He says that while the COVID-19 pandemic has taught aviation how to respond to similar situations, the restrictions introduced during that period will not remain in place for much longer – they will only be applied when the risk arises.

Meanwhile, the era of cheap flights will probably not end, it will only recede for a while – since fuel is a significant part of the cost of flights, when they become cheaper, the opportunities to fly cheaper will increase again. Low-cost airlines should be the fastest growing of all airlines.

Lithuanian Airports is a state-owned company that manages airports in Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga. A. Stikliūnas has been leading the company since June, when Marius Gelžinis, who had been leading the company for four years, left the chair of the general director. The competition for the position of the new manager has not yet been announced.

– Recently, a number of reports have appeared in the media, not only about future new directions, but also about cancellations. Although some of the flights are seasonal, Brussels Airlines’ suspended flights to Brussels have been operating since 2009, while Rayanair and airBaltic have also announced the cancellation of some non-holiday destinations. What determines this?

– When evaluating all routes and the network as a whole, we are mostly talking about seasonality, because a number of routes in Europe are seasonal. The number of destinations in the summer season sometimes exceeds 40-50 percent. of what companies do in winter.

So first of all what we have now is seasonality in terms of Ryanair, Airbaltic or Wizzair flights.

Those routes that were operated to Southern Europe are already or will be suspended in October, as the aviation season changes at the end of October, from the summer aviation season to the winter.

Lukas Balandis/BNS photo/Airplane

Lukas Balandis/BNS photo/Airplane

Another thing is the economic challenges that airlines are still facing, related to the lack of crews, aircraft. As a result, airlines are optimizing their network or looking for ways to save money in the short term.