AirBaltic Expands UK Footprint

Latvian carrier airBaltic has announced plans to fly between Manchester and Riga. The new scheduled services are due to launch on March 29, and will mark the airline’s third UK destination after London/Gatwick and a seasonal operation to Aberdeen. The link is designed to offer convenient connections to passengers flying not only to the Latvian capital, but also to 70 onward destinations across Scandinavia, Russia, and the Middle East. The development boosts competition on the route, with low-cost giant Ryanair already linking the two cities using Boeing 737-800 examples.

The nonstop routing from Manchester will operate four-times weekly and be served using the carrier’s new Airbus A220-300 aircraft. AirBaltic has one of the world’s largest fleets of the narrowbody jet, which represents one of the greenest in its class alongside wider seats and larger windows when compared with its competitors.

Martin Gauss, airBaltic chief executive officer commented on the Latvian capital’s appeal for inbound visitors: “Riga is a dynamic city and a key business centre of the Baltic states and has a lot to offer to both business and leisure travellers. It is also a very convenient transfer point with excellent connections within our wide route network.”

Photo: airBaltic

Traffic on the Riga-based carrier’s existing UK routes continues to grow, with 17% more passengers expected in 2019 than last year – of these, almost a fifth of travellers are transferring onwards. Data from the airline suggests the other Baltic capitals of Tallinn and Vilnius are popular final destinations, along with Helsinki and Turku in Finland, and Moscow and St Petersburg in Russia.

Stephen Turner, commercial director at Manchester Airport added: “Riga is already a very popular destination, so it is great to see the Latvian flag carrier come onto the route too, giving additional choice and flexibility for the 22 million people in our vast catchment area. We look forward to the route starting next year and seeing the airline grow from the UK’s global gateway in the North.”

The news forms part of a wider network expansion from the airline, with plans for four more new destinations for summer 2020: from Riga to Trondheim, Bergen and Yerevan, and from Tallinn to Nice.