The strategic priorities of Lithuanian Airports for 2023 include the construction of the new Vilnius passenger departure terminal, the expansion of the northern apron of Kaunas Airport and an analysis of the possibilities for the expansion of the passenger terminal of this airport. According to the CEO of Lithuanian Airports, this year the aim will be to continue the rapid growth rates of aviation indicators and to develop a new flight incentive model in priority destinations.
Focus on passenger terminals
According to Aurimas Stikliūnas, Acting CEO of Lithuanian Airports, in 2023, the focus will be on the development of passenger infrastructure, with the construction of the new passenger departure terminal at Vilnius Airport starting at the beginning of the year. The expansion of Kaunas Airport’s northern apron and terminal expansion planning works are also planned.
“The new Vilnius Departures Terminal is not just a new place for passengers, it is a new phase in our organisation, taking us to the next level of quality, introducing new technologies, expanding our commercial opportunities, and improving passenger experience. With the growing passenger flows at Vilnius Airport, it is important to ensure comfortable service conditions that meet modern standards, and at the same time to increase passenger throughput, which is crucial for the management of airport processes,” said A. Stikliūnas.
He pointed out that the construction will not disrupt airport operations, it will take place at an existing airport, the new terminal will be completed by the end of 2024 and the first passengers should be arriving from the new terminal in early 2025, after the installation of all the technology and after all necessary testing works have been completed.
A. Stikliūnas also highlighted the development of infrastructure at Kaunas Airport.
“Kaunas Airport has already substantially outgrown the passenger traffic recorded before the pandemic. For example, we are now able to handle four passenger flights at the same time. We are planning to launch a terminal expansion project, which will expand both the arrival and departure areas for passengers and increase the number of passenger flights to six. We are still in the process of preparing for this expansion and analysing the financial possibilities. In the middle of 2023, we will also start the expansion of the northern apron at Kaunas Airport, which will allow us to increase the number of aircraft parking spaces and to provide special places for aircraft engine testing, which is important as we wish to continue to be the leader in terms of the volume of aircraft servicing in our region,” said A. Stikliūnas.
Another strategic project for the year is the preparation of a masterplan analysis.
“Together with consultants from the Netherlands, we are currently looking for the most optimal long-term development (masterplan) solutions. A study will be prepared within this year to outline the options for expanding the airport network for the next ten years into the future. The major study will take stock of current infrastructure capacity and assess the long-term prospects for expansion under different scenarios.” - The Acting CEO of Lithuanian Airports said while talking about future plans.
According to A. Stikliūnas, one of the most important goals for 2023 is to maintain the same rapid aviation growth rates as last year.
In 2023, Lithuanian Airports, in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport and Communications, will develop and implement a new, additional (to the existing measures) flight incentive model.
“It should be very well understood that the flight incentive scheme is already operational at Lithuanian Airports and will continue to be so in the future. These measures have contributed significantly to our being among the leaders in aviation growth in the region. However, given the ever-increasing competition for flights between all European airports and markets, the existing measures are not always sufficient to attract new airlines or destinations to strategically important routes and to improve the quality of accessibility. Therefore, the new flight promotion model is important strategically for the whole country and will focus on increasing accessibility in general and developing new and existing destinations, in addition to the existing ones, which are specifically important for business travellers,” says A. Stikliūnas.
According to a preliminary assessment, with the amount of investment currently allocated from the state budget for the incentive model, it is quite realistic to launch up to two priority scheduled destinations. It is said that this incentive model will only work if long-term investment is made on an annual basis for at least two or three years. The incentive model should start in the second half of 2023.
Controlling energy consumption
One of the key priorities for the aviation market in 2023, and for airports in particular, will be to meet the global challenges posed by rising energy costs.
“In the context of a recovering aviation industry, financial stability is crucial, and we will focus on managing energy costs. We will strive to improve efficiency and increase the return we provide to the Government. Therefore, we have identified projects that would generate additional revenues and encourage passengers to choose to travel by air,” said the Acting CEO of Lithuanian Airports.
Change in status
Among the priorities for 2023 are changes to the legal status of Lithuanian Airports. The aim is to transform the company from a state-owned company into a limited liability company in the second half of this year.
The transformation will be based on decisions by the Government and Seimas, as well as recommendations by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to reduce political influence in state-owned enterprises.