The contest procedure, for which Lithuanian Airports started preparing back in 2017, was of interest to a number of European airlines, and Polish airline LOT became the winner. According to Aurimas Stikliūnas, Head of Aviation Services at Lithuanian Airports, from now on Lithuania will not only be the only one in the Baltic States to have a strategically important direct link with one of the world’s largest financial centres, but also a positive model for other Member States of the EU.
“This is the first case in the EU when the flight mechanism aimed at attracting business passengers will be supported by state. We are especially satisfied of implementing the first project of this type with our partners. Over the year, London City Airport serves 4.5 million of passengers, most of them from the financial industry. Having comfortable flights to this airport in good time, no doubt, will increase the flow of business passengers to Lithuania”, – says A. Stikliūnas.
At present, UK companies are some of the most active investors in Lithuania and other Central as well as Eastern European countries. Both Lithuanian and UK business communities have long been waiting for the flights that will further reduce the geographical barrier between the two countries. The contract with the air carrier will be signed for 4 years.
There were a few different parties that contributed to the emergence of the new route. These are two Lithuanian ministries, namely Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Transport and Communications, a state enterprise Lithuanian Airports, and an investment development agency Invest Lithuania. In case that the revenue from the route between Vilnius and London City does not cover the cost of the flights operated by the airlines, the state is obliged to compensate the air carrier.
Lithuanian Airports reports that after the public announcement of the winner, approvals and signature of the public service contract is discussed and is scheduled to take place by the end of this year. After signing the contract, the winner, i. e. LOT, will start selling tickets on the Vilnius-London City route. It is expected to be launched by the end of this year. The first planes from Vilnius to London City should take off in May 2019.
Currently, airlines from Vilnius Airport are flying to London’s Luton and Stansted Airports. Only low-cost airlines Wizz Air and Ryanair are available to the passengers.
About Lithuanian Airports
The network of Lithuanian Airports has three air gateways in Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga. In 2017, they served 5.2 million passengers and 55 thousand flights. During the winter season, 15 airlines from Lithuanian Airports offer 65 direct flights to 56 cities in 26 countries. According to the data of the Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe), Lithuanian Airports contributes 2.6 percent to the Lithuanian GDP.