Latvia direct route launched
If you dream of strolling along Brazil’s beaches in your Speedos but can’t afford the transatlantic airfare, what about Latvia instead?
“Copacabana beach is about four kilometres long. In Latvia we have 500 kilometres of long, white sandy beaches,” said Air Baltic’s Jánis Vanags yesterday, at the official launch of the airline’s new Riga-Malta route. The route will operate from May 11 till October 20. It will be serviced by a Boeing 737-300 aircraft with 149 seats.
Air Baltic will fly once a week to Malta on Saturdays, while the return flight to the Latvian capital will operate on Sunday mornings.
Mr Vanags said it was too early to predict how successful the new route would be, but early indications were that it was proving popular, especially inbound to Malta.
“We want the Maltese to seriously consider Latvia as a destination and recommend it to friends and family,” said Mr Vanags, vice president of Corporate Communications.
As well as its northern beaches, Latvia had a pleasant average temperature of 25°C in summer and just a few hours of darkness.
Mr Vanags also stressed that from Riga there were multiple convenient connections to other Baltic, Scandinavian and Russian cities, providing Maltese tourists with more travel options as well as opening up Malta to new markets.
One-way fares on the Malta-Riga route start from €85, including airport fees and transaction costs.
The airline offers business, economy and basic tickets. It was described by the spokesman as a “hybrid” carrier that gives its passengers a range of fare and service options.
Mr Vanags was keen to stress the airline’s innovations, such as a mix-and-match pre-order meal menu. Passengers can even make a down-payment on a car while flying.
The spokesman backed up his claims with the fact that Air Baltic was selected among the world’s top 10 most innovative airlines by Airlinetrends.com, an independent industry research agency.
Also present yesterday was Malta Tourism Authority CEO Josef Formosa Gauci, who said the new route demonstrated the MTA’s commitment to attracting tourists from new markets.
On arrival, Tourism Minister Karmenu Vella was presented with a model of an Air Baltic plane by Mr Vanags for his new desk.
“Our aim is to continue increasing the number of seats on the market as that is the most important factor for increasing arrivals,” he told The Times.
Yesterday’s launch was brightened up by the presence of seven journalists from leading Baltic publications, brought over by the MTA.
They will be taken on a whirlwind tour of some of the island’s highlights before leaving Malta tomorrow.