In his words, the Vilnius administration’s recent decision to earmark 2.1 million euros to the efforts to attract the carrier to London may be useful, however, it may violate the rules of state support.
Almantas told BNS that conversations with British Airways, EasyJet, Latvia’s AirBaltic and others are constantly held, however, none of them agreed to work under the market conditions, saying the flights between Vilnius and London would not be full due to low demand.
“Business travels require London City, Heathrow and Gatwick airports. These are specific airports. Heathrow is a very expensive airport, which is dominated by British Airways. Gatwick is the easiest to access, EasyJet and other airlines that probably view our markets more favorably fly there. London City is more of a niche airport,” said the CEO of Lietuvos Oro Uostai.
The European Union (EU) bans state support of airports or airlines. Without an additional permit form the European Commission (EC), only small support of 200,000 euros can be earmarked within three years, however, the sum is too small.
The Vilnius City Council last week decided to earmark about 2.1 million euros for marketing of flights to one of London’s main airports. In Almantas’ words, handing the money to the airlines is the biggest problem.
British Airways has refused to comment on its plans of new flights to BNS. The company has already flown from London to Vilnius, however, closed the route twice, in 2000 and 2006.
Currently, the flights between London and Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga are conducted by low-cost airlines, Hungary’s Wizz Air and Ireland’s Ryanair.