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Ryanair to Start Daily Flights to Riga from London, Frankfurt and Tampere in October

Irish Budget airline Ryanair said on July 27, that it will start daily flights to Riga from London, Frankfurt and Tampere beginning in October as part of its long-term plan to win a significant part of the east European air travel market.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary told reporters at Riga International Airport, where he flew on the first Ryanair aircraft to land at RIA, that the discount airline chose the Latvian capital over Tallinn and Vilnius due to the government's willingness to co-operate.

He said that if the first routes to Riga are successful, the company will begin more flights to cities such as Brussels, Rome, Barcelona, Stockholm and others.

Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister Ainars Slesers said that Ryanair would not receive any special discounts at RIA but that the airline's presence would be good for competition.

He said he hoped that in the next five years Riga airport will serve betweenfive and six million passengers annually.

He added that the next discount airline to start flying to Riga would be Britain's EasyJet. The government has slashed airport fees and passenger taxes at RIA to entice more airlines and boost passenger turnover. Despite O'Leary's comments about a special relationship with the Latvian authorities, Riga is a natural hub in the Baltics, lying in between Lithuania to the south and Estonia to the north.

None of the three markets on its own is a viable proposition for a major airline, analysts say.

(NewsBase 30.vii.04)

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