With the continued growth in air passenger traffic, almost half a million passengers were served at Lithuanian airports in April, and the total number of aircraft was even higher than in the same period in 2019, when the peak of flights was recorded. Kaunas Airport is showing the most impressive growth, continuing to improve its all-time record, while Palanga is seeing an increase in both passenger and cargo flights.
In April, more than 497,000 people travelled through Lithuanian airports, almost 4.3 thousand flights were operated and over 1.6 thousand tonnes of cargo were transported. According to Tomas Zitikis, Head of Route Development at Lithuanian Airports, all flight indicators are recovering rapidly.
"The tendencies of a very rapid recovery in Lithuanian aviation have been recorded since the beginning of the year. Although the summer season is still in full swing and we still had fewer flights and destinations in April than in the same period a year ago, passenger traffic at all three Lithuanian airports grew by more than a tenth. This is a slightly different trend from the one forecasted by IATA for the European region," noted T. Zitikis.
The most popular destinations from Lithuanian airports remained unchanged: London, Warsaw, Oslo, Copenhagen and Riga were the most popular destinations for regular flights in April. The five most popular charter destinations were Antalya, Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada, Madeira and Alanya. Flights to Antalya were the most popular and grew in April, with 19% more flights than in the record year 2019.
Kaunas Airport maintains growth trends
T. Zitikis estimates that in April, Lithuanian airports managed to restore 92% of the pre-pandemic passenger traffic (i.e. compared to 2019). Kaunas Airport stands out in particular, with almost 115,000 passengers last month, or even a fifth more than in record-breaking 2019. Comparing these two periods, the number of flights in the temporary capital increased by 7.5%, i.e. 886 flights were operated.
"Kaunas Airport's results will only get better. This trend will be strengthened by the fact that charter companies, which have so far concentrated their operations in Vilnius, are now also starting to fly in Kaunas," says a representative of Lithuanian Airports.
It is forecasted that Kaunas Airport will handle more than 1.2 million passengers this year. This would far exceed its design capacity, so intensive preparations are being made for the expansion of the passenger terminal, with the selection of a contractor for works worth around €30 million expected later this year. The expansion work is expected to take about two years and, once completed, will allow the airport's departure and arrival areas to handle more than 800 passengers and up to 6 aircraft at a time.
Traditional airlines are gaining popularity
Overall, Vilnius Airport continues to handle the highest passenger flows. In April, more than 355,000 passengers used the gateway, 11% more than last year but 15% less than in 2019. Last month, more than 3,000 aircraft took off and landed here, with 40 destinations to choose from.
Palanga Airport was used by 26,000 passengers, similar to 2019, with 310 flights to five popular destinations.
"The load factor at all airports has already caught up with or even surpassed the pre-pandemic level. Vilnius Airport deserves special mention, with as many as nine traditional carriers flying from the airport. In April, their load factor is up by 12% compared to 2019. This shows that more and more Lithuanians are considering and choosing traditional airlines for their travels, breaking the stereotypes that their offers are too expensive for the average person. It may also be an indication that business travel is slowly recovering," said T. Zitikis.
In the fourth month of this year, the airplanes also carried impressive amounts of cargo: 1.1 thousand tonnes of cargo were transported at Vilnius Airport, 356 tonnes at Kaunas Airport and 150 tonnes at Palanga Airport. The total cargo growth at all three airports compared to the previous year is 16%, while the volume of cargo transported at the three airports is down by 2% compared to last year.
Currently, 12 airlines operate scheduled flights at Lithuanian airports, of which 9 are traditional airlines and three are low-cost airlines.