On May 15, 2017 airBaltic, the flag-carrier airline of Latvia launched the first (since summer 2009) domestic flight from Riga to Liepaja International. Yes, International. According to Business Register, there are three(!) international airports in Latvia, now two of them are operating only with Ventspils lacking any regular air traffic.
And day after, on May 16, the first stats, including the transit passenger distribution, were in and published by major media across the country. Was there a surprise? Most definitely not! As it was in 2009, the main destinations are Copenhagen, Moscow, London, Berlin and Hamburg. But, back then one did not need to make a stopover in Riga to get anywhere. If the trend stays than most likely some destinations will have to be operated on a direct basis (like it was before the crisis) of outsourced to SAS, Ryanair, Wizz Air or another low-cost company, IF the airport in Liepaja is to stay and try to get operational in the long-term and even maybe profitable.
Another thing to be worried or at least concerned about if Liepaja Airport is to go somewhere, comparing even to the nearby Palanga Airport is a lack of infrastructure. Ok, PLQ is also on a field close to a motorway, but it is very well connected to the city of Palanga, also Klaipeda and even Liepaja, where right now, Liepaja Airport is reachable only with a rather unfrequent bus connection to the somewhat city centre and a nearby town of Grobina.
Also to be frank, in the vicinity of this airport no hotels or other accomodation possibilities are present at the moment, not to mention places to eat at the airport or somewhere nearby – a lot to develop for the emerging international hub.
In the future railway (part of Riga – Jelgava – Liepaja line, and former Liepaja – Vainode line) can be utilised to connect Liepaja Station and a halt in close proximity to LPX. When this line was used for regular traffic a trip from Liepaja to Alanda took only 11 minutes, which is very reasonable. A new station will be required though.
Another option (less viable at the moment) is to extend the existing tram line (like it has been done in Tallinn, Bremen and Edinburgh). Current city development plans besides upgrading current tram network to implement newer low-floor trams does include the extension of the existing line further down Brivibas iela to intersection with Cukura iela, thus connecting the industrial part of the town with the large residential district to the south.
In the perfect development scenario, this extended line could then be prolongued to Cimdenieki district and terminate at LPX, but given the current circumstances and the delays in imlepenting the development strategy for tram in Liepaja, this option most likely would be postponed to uncertain future.
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