Despite a slow start, 2022 was a year of extremely high activity at Lithuanian airports, with 5.35 million passengers handled, twice as many as in 2021, with nearly 2.47 million passengers handled. The airports also operated almost 51,000 flights, which is almost 48% more than the previous year. The aviation sector is said to have not only recovered last year but also entered a growth phase.
According to the representatives of Lithuanian Airports, in 2022 all three airports have managed to restore more than 80% of the pre-pandemic passenger numbers (in 2019), and Kaunas Airport has already reached the 2019 level, with the total number of regular flight routes even surpassing 2019.
Slow start and rapid growth
“The first quarter of 2022 was not the most desirable quarter for travellers, as the pandemic meant that there were a lot of additional checks and restrictions in place at the time, which had a negative impact on airports and the overall aviation market. However, from the second quarter onwards, activity picked up sharply and by the end of the year, Lithuanian Airports recorded a very strong recovery and, in some categories, even higher than before the pandemic. We have clearly seen that the growth potential and willingness to travel was not diminished by the challenges of the pandemic, and in many cases on the contrary - we have even seen an increased willingness to travel, which continues to this day,” said Tomas Zitikis, Head of Route Development of Lithuanian Airports, in his review of the past year.
According to him, in 2022, Palanga Airport was the most active airport in terms of flights and passenger numbers - passenger traffic grew more than three times compared to the previous year, and 65% more flights were handled in the airport. It is worth mentioning that in 2021, Palanga Airport did not operate flights for more than a month due to airfield reconstruction works.
According to the expert, Kaunas Airport was the most surprising last year. In April, it not only caught up with 2019 results, but also exceeded them, and this growth continued until the end of the year. Last year, Kaunas Airport handled as many as 1.16 million passengers, which is essentially the same total annual result as recorded in 2019 (99.8% of the pre-pandemic passenger traffic).
Destination growth surpassing 2019
Looking at the past year, it is important to mention the overall increase in the number of destinations. Last year, it surpassed the record year of 2019 and reached 98 destinations.
“We are constantly negotiating with our partners to offer passengers new and attractive destinations from Lithuanian airports. Last year, we were able to offer almost 100 direct destinations, compared to 92 destinations in 2019. This growth is the result of our consistent and ambitious work.” - says T. Zitikis.
He also noted that load factors continued to rise consistently, with low-cost airlines filling an average of 80% of seats and traditional airlines 63% of seats.
Looking at last year's statistics, the aviation specialist not only positively evaluates the good results of last year, but also forecasts an increase in the cargo traffic through Lithuanian airports.
“In the cargo category, the figures are certainly optimistic - last year the number of cargo at all Lithuanian airports grew by almost 4 % and amounted to more than 21 thousand tonnes. We have seen the growing potential in this area for several years in a row, and in 2023 we are planning an even higher number of cargo transported through Lithuanian airports,” says T. Zitikis.
Lithuanian Airports statistics
According to Tomas Zitikis, Head of Route Development at Lithuanian Airports, almost 5.35 million passengers travelled through Lithuanian airports in 2022. This compares to 2.47 million passengers in 2021 and 6.5 million passengers in 2019.
Vilnius Airport was the most popular choice for travellers. Last year, 3.91 million passengers travelled through Vilnius Airport. In 2021 and 2019, almost 1.9 million and 5 million passengers have passed through Vilnius Airport gates. Meanwhile, in 2022 Kaunas Airport handled 1.15 million passengers (compared to 487,000 in 2021 and 1.16 million in 2019) and Palanga Airport handled 274,000 travellers (compared to 85,000 in 2021 and 338,000 in 2019).
Last year, more than 80% of traffic was also restored. Nearly 51,000 flights were operated at Lithuanian airports in 2022. In 2021, the number reached 34,000, and in 2019 - 62,000.
Vilnius Airport operated the majority of flights - almost 37,000 (25,000 flights in 2021 and 47,000 flights in 2019). Kaunas gateway operated more than 10,000 flights (compared to almost 7,000 in 2021 and 9,800 in 2019). Palanga Airport handled 3.6 thousand flights last year (compared to slightly more than 2 thousand in 2021 and around 5 thousand in 2019).
Cargo traffic at Lithuanian airports grew by about 4% per year and reached more than 21,000 tonnes in 2022. In 2021, more than 20,000 tonnes of cargo were transported through the Lithuanian air gateways, and about 17,000 tonnes in 2019.
Vilnius Airport transported the most cargo - almost 16,000 tonnes (compared to just over 15,000 tonnes in 2021 and around 14,000 tonnes in 2019). Kaunas Airport transported around 5,000 tonnes of cargo in both 2022 and 2021, and more than 3,000 tonnes in 2019. Palanga Airport transported around 300 tonnes of cargo last year (compared to around 93 tonnes in 2021 and 6 tonnes in 2019).