Renovated state-of-the-art airport in Riga welcomes 5 million passengers per year

To better serve the growing number of travellers flying into and out of Latvia via Riga International Airport, an EU-funding project renovated the existing airport into a state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly one that is now serving over five million passengers a year. 

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© Riga airport © Riga airport

" The investments made in the infrastructure, safety and environment are crucial for retaining the airport’s dominating status in the Baltic region and thus facilitating the attraction of passengers and airlines and the development of services, which in turn ensure the preservation and maintenance of the investments. "

Andis Strods, Ministry of Transport of the Republic of Latvia

A lot has changed since Riga International Airport (RIX), Latvia’s only international airport, opened in 1974. Not only in terms of air travel and airport safety standards, but in terms of the number of passengers travelling through RIX – which grew from 310 000 in 1993 to over 4.6 million in 2010. 

Clearly, it was time for an overhaul – one that included new taxiways, de-icing platforms, runway lighting and all the amenities expected of a modern airport capable of handling 5 to 6 million passengers a year. In 2014, RIGA opened the doors to its newly renovated airport.

An array of infrastructure improvements 

Not only is RIX the only international airport in Latvia, it also serves as the main hub for the Baltic region – for both passenger and cargo flights. To ensure the airport maintained its competitive edge and could continue to develop in a sustainable way, considerable investments were made to modernise the airport’s infrastructure. 

Among the main investments of the project were: renovating the upper layer of the runway’s pavement and reinforcing its landing strip; constructing two new taxiways and renovating two existing ones; building two anti-icing pads, a storm water disposal system, firefighting depot, vehicle washing hangar and waste disposal hangar; and upgrading the airfield’s lighting system and three aprons to comply with CAT II regulations. 

A focus on safety

The airport also purchased a range of safety-related equipment, including a specialised air rescue and firefighting vehicle. One key safety-related feature is the new ICAO CAT II precision landing approach lighting system, which guides aircraft movements on the runway and taxiways via automatically enabled lights. The innovative system aims to streamline the process of moving an aircraft from the runway to a ramp. As the accuracy of the landing and taxiing becomes more exact, the risk of a crash or other accident is significantly minimised. Thanks in part to this system, during the first year of its opening not a single flight had to be diverted from RIX due to bad weather. 

Setting the standard

As a direct result of these improvements, RIX has transformed itself into an international transport hub – welcoming over five million passengers a year. 

The renovated airport boasts enhanced environmental conditions and greater operational efficiency. According to the airport’s calculations, emissions from arriving aircraft have decreased by more than 700 tonnes, and the amount of unsorted waste per passenger has dropped by 46 %. 

It is estimated that the project has added over EUR 90 million per year to the local economy, including the creation of 12 direct jobs and numerous indirect jobs.  

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Infrastructure Development of Riga International Airport” is         EUR 93 026 375, with the EU’s Cohesion Fund contributing EUR 57 711 137 through the Latvian “Infrastructure and Services” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.


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