At least 150 routes to reach Lithuania by air, development of climate-neutral and sustainable aviation, a significantly higher position in the global accessibility rating, increasing the GDP generated to 5 % – these are the main targets and the country’s aviation vision for 2030 emphasised by Minister of Transport and Communications Marius Skuodis on Tuesday at the presentation of the Lithuanian Aviation Guidelines 2030.
“High-quality air accessibility is prerequisite for Lithuania’s economic development. In addition, the aviation sector is an area of high added value and thus high wages. The objective of the Lithuanian Aviation Guidelines 2030 is to ensure the consistency and predictability of the key decisions in the area of air transport by bringing together all institutions and companies operating in this field and encouraging their cooperation. Clear priorities and strategic areas, particularly those relevant for attracting investment and incoming tourism, over the next decade will facilitate the planning of works, focusing on increasing services and improving transport connections,” says Minister of Transport and Communications M. Skuodis.
It is estimated that in 2021, Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga airports offered 94 regular direct flights. The Aviation Guidelines provide for Lithuania to reach at least 150 destinations by 2030. According to the global accessibility rating by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Lithuania should ascend by at least 10 positions to the 85th place as compared to 2019.
In order to improve Lithuania’s connectivity with the world, it is planned to approve a list of priority markets and destinations with the greatest potential and economic benefits for Lithuania. At the same time, the intention is to develop and implement a new model for promoting air transport, raising Lithuania’s profile as an attractive tourism and business destination in a coordinated manner.
Another aim of the Lithuanian Aviation Guidelines is to increase the return of the aviation sector to the State. Lithuanian aviation currently accounts for around 3 % GDP. In order to have Lithuania’s aviation sector generate 5 % of the country’s GDP by 2030, further expansion of Vilnius and Kaunas airport infrastructure is planned: to complete the construction of the departure terminal in Vilnius by 2024 and to expand the existing passenger terminal infrastructure at Kaunas Airport by 2025. It will also include the development of aircraft repair and maintenance companies and the increase of air cargo handling capacity.
According to the Minister, the high-speed railway line Rail Baltica, which will connect Vilnius and Kaunas airports, should fundamentally change travel habits between the Baltic States and Poland. New opportunities for the aviation sector will also be provided by the US market to be opened to Lithuanian carriers starting 2023, and by improving the legal environment for the commercial use of drone technologies.
Another aspect is the reduction of the environmental impact of aviation. The operation of the country’s airports envisages a consistent reduction of both aircraft noise and emissions. The use of sustainable fuels for flights should increase by at least 6 % by 2030. In addition, the share of hybrid and electric vehicles will continue to grow at Lithuanian airports, the airport infrastructure will be adapted to the environment-neutral fuel types for hybrid, electric, hydrogen-powered aircraft.
In 2021, almost 2.5 million passengers were serviced at Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga airports, which is 37 % more than in 2020. At the end of last year, the Lithuanian airports recorded about 80 % of the number of pre-pandemic flights.
The draft Lithuanian Aviation Guidelines have been drawn up together with the aviation community – responsible authorities, associations representing aviation and other economic and social partners.