New Route of the Day (7 May 2022): airBaltic between Riga and Batumi
airBaltic has started a new route from its main base in Riga to Batumi in Georgia. The first flight was on Saturday 7 May using the airline’s A220-300s. This appears to be airBaltic’s only new route from Riga this summer. Although the two airports are just 2,120 kilometres apart, flying in a straight line between the two airports would require entering Belarus and Ukrainian airspace. As a result, according to flightradar24.com, the aircraft actually flew over Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania before crossing the Black Sea and landing in Georgia.
Initially, flights will operate only on Saturdays. However, from 20 June there will also be a Monday service. The last flight is currently scheduled to be on Monday 26 September. airBaltic faces no competition on the route. The carrier has been serving the Georgian capital of Tbilisi for many years and this summer is offering four flights per week from Riga.
Batumi Airport traffic up 30% in Q1
Batumi is Georgia’s second largest city and lies on the Black Sea. It is a popular tourist destination with some interesting modern architecture among the older buildings. Apart from airBaltic, the only other non-stop link from Europe to Batumi is a 12-weekly service with Turkish Airlines from Istanbul IST. Prior to the pandemic, Batumi Airport was handling around 600,000 passengers per annum. Although traffic fell to just over 50,000 passengers in 2020, demand recovered impressively in 2021 to reach 516,000 passengers, down just 17% on the 2019 peak. Traffic in Q1 is up over 30% compared with 2019. However, given that Ukraine was a major market for inbound traffic in 2019 the airport may struggle to maintain that growth for the rest of 2022.