In March, the number of passengers at Lithuanian airports grew by more than a third compared to the previous year, and two airports - Kaunas and Palanga - improved their record results for 2019. The first quarter of this year was also a successful one for Lithuanian aviation.
In March, more than 421,000 people travelled through Lithuanian airports (35% more than the same time last year), 3,816 flights were handled (3% more), and almost 1,800 tonnes of freight were transported (3.5% growth). In terms of quarterly results, in the first three months of this year, almost 1.18 million passengers used the services of Lithuanian airports (44% more), more than 10.7 thousand flights were serviced (7% more), and more than 4.8 thousand tonnes of cargo were transported (0.7% growth).
According to Tomas Zitikis, Head of Route Development at Lithuanian Airports, Palanga and Kaunas airports have recently demonstrated particularly good results.
"At the beginning of last year, passenger flows had not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, but this situation is changing rapidly. Vilnius Airport is still some way off the record year of 2019, while Kaunas and Palanga airports are maintaining very strong growth and are already exceeding the records set in 2019. In March this year, compared to the same period four years ago, the number of passengers at Kaunas Airport was 15% higher and at Palanga Airport - 6% higher," notes T. Zitikis.
Aircraft filling - like before a pandemic
Aircraft load factors have also returned to pre-pandemic levels. In the first quarter of this year, the average load factor of traditional airlines flying from Lithuanian airports was 71%, compared to 60% in 2019. Low-cost airlines' flights were on average 86% full, the same as four years ago (86%).
"Another encouraging trend is that cargo volumes at Lithuanian airports continue to grow. Cargo volumes were up at all three airports compared to 2019. Vilnius Airport handled more than 3.6 thousand tonnes of cargo in the quarter, or almost a fifth more, while Kaunas Airport handled slightly more than 1.2 thousand tonnes, or more than half of the previous year's volume," the Route Development Manager of Lithuanian Airports summarises the data.
A very active year ahead
The new aviation season started at the end of March, and this year airlines will offer more than 80 direct regular routes to passengers at Lithuanian airports. In parallel, charter flights will also be available to further respond to passengers' holiday wishes and needs.
"Some of the new destinations are already on offer and several more will be launched in the coming months. Passengers are responding to the supply and demand for both existing and new flights is growing. In this context, we can expect more than one more record in various aviation indicators this year," T.Zitikis predicts.
Most of the new and renewed routes will be offered to passengers travelling from Vilnius Airport. In total, passengers travelling via Vilnius Airport will be able to reach almost 50 destinations in the summer season, Kaunas Airport will offer almost 30 destinations in the summer season, and Palanga Airport will offer five destinations already popular among travellers.
Currently, 12 airlines operate scheduled flights at Lithuanian airports, 9 of which are traditional airlines and three more are low-cost airlines.