Responding to the situation of the pandemic and the challenges posed to the aviation sector by the COVID-19 crisis, Lithuanian Airports are commencing structural changes inside the company. It has been announced that part of the projects will be suspended at their early stages, whereas the management of Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga airports will be implemented in a centralised way since the beginning of next year. The main goal of the company will be the restoration of passenger flows back to pre-pandemic levels. It is expected that in 2021, up to 50 percent of annual passenger flows recorded in 2019 will be reached.
Since January 1st, Lithuanian Airports are changing the structure of the company by joining several departments. Since January there will be no separate Heads of Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga Airports, while their functions will be taken over by the future Head of newly created Department of Operations and Infrastructure, Dainius Čiuplys, who has been running the position of Head of Vilnius Airport up to now. The current COO of Lithuanian Airports, Laura Joffė, will be the future Head of newly formed Department of Finance and Administration.
Another part of changes pertains to the projects of the company. It has been announced that only completely prepared projects or the projects the implementation of which has already been commenced will be carried on further.
The most important projects, the means for the implementation of which are still sought, include the reconstruction of Palanga Airport’s runway, the infrastructure of which has been renovated for the last time in 2007, also Vilnius Airport’s departures terminal project, which encompasses the construction of a two-storey terminal module as well as restructuring the terminal’s surroundings. It is expected that opportunities for financing both projects will be found in the nearest future.
“We are forced to acknowledge that the aviation sector has changed radically, thus we are forced to undertake changes, to shift and distribute our focus and energy on the matters which currently require it the most. We have lost passenger flows, without which the passenger aviation is floundering, therefore, we are forced to restore it to the maximum. Our forecasts show that during 2021 we should recover at least 40-50 percent of the passenger flows we had in 2019. Lots of hopes are associated with the intentions of the countries to initiate collective vaccination as soon as possible and also the enhancing initiatives to unify the procedures for the travellers, renouncing the self-isolation and replacing it by testing. We hope that the implementation of these changes will be considered to be a priority”, the Chief Executive Officer of Lithuanian Airports, Marius Gelžinis, commented on the situation.
According to him, the flows of passengers which have decreased significantly as well as the intention to optimise the costs of the company prompted the reduction of the number of employees. In 2020, the number of people working at Lithuanian Airports decreased by 25 percent.
“So far, we can predict that the company will be operating under the new structure at least for a year and a half, but the respectful changes related to shortening or extending the terms may be determined by the pandemic management situation and the decisions made at national levels”, claimed the Chief Executive Officer of Lithuanian Airports.
About Lithuanian Airports
Three air gateways in Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga belong to the network of Lithuanian airports. During 2019 they provided services to 6.5 million passengers and 62 thousand flights.