During the past century Latvian aviation, like the country itself, experienced a number of fateful turning points. The former province of Russia, which won independence after the 1st World War, established small air force and civil aviation, but lost everything due to the Soviet occupation in the summer of 1940. Independence of the country was regained in August 1991.
Riga airport was built in the present location in October 1974. However, it remained unknown for the world operating as the local airport within the former USSR. Only in 1991 Riga destination appeared in the timetables of well-known Western airlines - first SAS, then Lufthansa.
The capital of Latvia developed historically into the regional centre of the Baltic’s. It has been the intersection of major land and sea routes since long ago. Nowadays the number of air routes keeps increasing. Riga is the biggest city of the Baltic States. Riga airport has the largest number of air passengers handled during the past 10 years.
The number of passengers has doubled since 1993. Copenhagen, Stockholm, London, Helsinki, Frankfurt, Moscow, Prague and Vienna routes have the largest number of passengers. Furthermore, direct flights link the capital of Latvia with Honk-Kong, Kiev, Tallinn, Tel Aviv, Vilnius and Warsaw.
During this period Riga airport has implemented several important modernization and expansion projects. The lounge for business class passengers and VIP centre was opened, and Flight Information Display System (FIDS) and Common Use Terminal Equipment System (CUTE) has been installed.
However, chief of company consider that the airport development and modernization should be at least a step ahead of passenger growth. He forecast that by stable economic development of Latvia the airport passenger numbers will grow considerably in the new millennium. The former terminal was not spacious enough and could not provide full comfort for passengers. Therefore major reconstruction started on the eve of the new millennium by pulling down the old one-level arrival area and by constructing a new two-level building 5 times exceeding the size of the former one. The former departure area was reconstructed next and a new pier with 5 passenger bridges was built instead. Altogether terminal was extended by more than 10 thousand square meters and 30 million USD were invested in the implementation of the project.
The reconstruction permitted to expand considerably the duty-free trade centre. Our duty-free shops offering souvenirs, perfumery, cosmetics, jeweller, watches, accessories, sweets, wines and spirits, tobacco goods, sportswear and toys are very popular. You can purchase both Latvian products as well as goods offered by famous international producers. Every departing passenger purchases goods for average value of 18 USD.
New bars and cafes have been opened.
Spacious shopping halls, bars and cafes fit well in the new airport interior that includes the elements of glass, metal and natural materials, like wood, stone and others forming Riga airport image of today.
The main idea of the new design was to construct spacious, light and, which is most important, transparent rooms for passengers to make one feel more and safe.
Geometry of the new building facades differs from the one associated with Riga airport till now. The glazed rhombic prisms laid in various planes encircle the new constructions. The facades resemble crystalline ice compositions arousing northern feelings. Harmony of grey and blue colours is dominant in the interior.
A modern Building Management System (BMS), air conditioning system, electric facilities and security equipment have been installed in the new building. Handling of persons with special needs has improved. Riga airport has succeeded in solving the most complicated problem of any airport design an optimum balance was reached among architectural, functional and commercial aspects.
Everything we have achieved has been done with the purpose of taking care of our passengers' convenience, so that a person arriving in Riga has a friendly environment and receives services of the highest quality. The better impressions of the airport, the more comfortable passengers feel while travelling.
Services will be further improved by considering expectations of our passengers and guests, who have filled out questionnaires available at special stands in the terminal. We look forward to receive comments on the recently introduced airport tour programmed and art exhibitions at the airport. Passenger loyalty programmed providing discounts, presents and special service for regular passengers has been launched.
Providing passenger service quality and variety Riga International Airport pays special attention to ground handling level. The airport provides a full range of the required services.