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New Lithuanian airline projected to start operations next year

Vilniaus oro uostas
Andriaus Vaitkevičiaus / 15min nuotr. / Vilnius Airport
Šaltinis: 15min

Vilnius mayor Artūras Zuokas announced that authorities are planning to open a new national airline called airLituanica. According to Zuokas, Vilnius city authorities should acquire 34% ownership in the new carrier, with 49-51 percent share going to strategic investors and Lithuanian investors taking 17 percent. Flights could start in 2013.

Lithuania has not had a home-based scheduled carrier for three years. In January 2009, Vilnius-based flyLAL declared bankruptcy and ceased operations. The carrier blamed competitor AirBaltic, which launched flights from Vilnius airport on the same destinations and offered lower rates. Now several European low-cost carriers, including Ryanair and Wizz Air, are competing in the Lithuanian market.

Former flyLAL shareholder Gediminas Žiemelis, now chairman of Avia Solutions Group, said the new carrier could find its niche in the market even though there is tough competition among LCCs.

“There are nearly 25 cities with [a] population [of] more than 350,000 people in 500-600 km. around Vilnius. The flights to these destinations will be in demand,” he told ATW Daily News, noting that turboprops are probably the best solution for the carrier's fleet.

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