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2013.05.23 15:29

New Vilnius airport director: “Let’s turn competition into cooperation”

DELFI|The Lithuania Tribune2013.05.23 15:29

Gediminas Almantas, who began his career at Vilnius airport as a luggage loader, has come a long way since that experience, writes www.delfi.lt. 

Gediminas Almantas, who began his career at Vilnius airport as a luggage loader, has come a long way since that experience, writes www.delfi.lt.

As the new director of the airport, he is now creating strategic plans, negotiating with potential carriers and planning performance improvements.

Almantas, who had been living abroad for five years, was given the position of managing director on the departure of his predecessor Tomas Vaišvilas.

Almantas is clear in stating his vision and key objectives: “In the aviation world it is a clear trend that the airport is not an isolated area – there are plenty of people who have an interest in it and who work with the airport. One of the main goals is to work with all those people who have an impact on airport operations: municipalities, institutions that promote tourism, industrialists, and airlines.”

He says that priority will be given to cooperation with other Lithuanian airports: “Until now the airports have been competing vigorously with each other. My vision is that we work together and turn the competition into cooperation. We will think how to optimise the internal processes and cost structure.”

However, Almantas acknowledges that the vision of connecting Kaunas and Vilnius airports depends on a political, rather than the airport director’s, decision.

A further strategy that Almantas plans to effect is the development of transit: “We can attract more Belarusians, who form an important segment of the customer base.”

While the director says that attention will be paid to attracting more airlines to the airport, focus will also be on increasing the number of flights operated by current airlines.

Expansion plans

Almantas, who previously worked at Copenhagen airport, said that the appearance of new airlines in Vilnius airport could not be expected this year. “Next year? We will see about that.”

As to attracting private capital into the operation of the airport, the new director comments: “I have seen this at Copenhagen airport, which is operated by the pension funds of Canadian teachers. The work is going well; this is a good example. But is it appropriate for Lithuania? I doubt it.”

Speaking about new routes from Vilnius airport, Almantas said that at present the biggest ‘headache’ is Brussels. “Intense conversations on Brussels are taking place with several companies,” he said. In the schedule of flights he would also like to see Berlin, Amsterdam and Munich.

Almantas is also looking at broadening the presence of budget airlines, commenting that where two such operators are already present [Ryanair and Wizzair], a third would not interfere. He adds that talks are already underway with Vueling Airlines. “It is a question of supply and demand. According to the demand, we will try to give the corresponding supply.”