Abu Dhabi to Welcome First Direct Flights by airBaltic from Baltic States

  • The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi extends special promotions to support the carrier and drive a 60 per cent increase in the number of Baltic visitors

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi has today welcomed the launch of Air Baltic’s programme to operate direct flights between Riga, Latvia, and Abu Dhabi. As part of the initiative, four-weekly flights between the two cities will operate for five months until 24 March 2018, with the inaugural flight having landed in the capital on 30 October. It will also provide Baltic visitors from Tallinn, Estonia and Vilnius, Lithuania a more convenient opportunity to travel to Abu Dhabi. This programme is a result of Abu Dhabi’s ongoing promotional efforts in the Baltic markets focused on positioning the Emirate as a leading tourism and business hub in the region.

Over the past years, the Emirate has witnessed a strong upsurge in travellers from the Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, with an increase of 25 per cent in the number of visitors in 2016 compared to 2014. This year, Abu Dhabi hosted 13 per cent more overnight guests and recorded an increase by 12 per cent in guest arrivals compared to the same period in 2016. Recognising the potential for further growth, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi carried out a series of educational activities including fam trips, sales calls, and seminars for dozens of trade agents in each of the Baltic markets. With Air Baltic, a leading regional air carrier with vast regional routes, and its new programme, visitor numbers are expected to rise by up to 60 per cent this year, and overnight guests to grow by 100 per cent.

Sultan Al Mutawa Al Dhaheri, Acting Executive Director, Tourism Sector, Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said: “Over the past year, we have developed a carefully thought out strategy focused on identifying key tourism markets that do not yet have direct links to Abu Dhabi, and implementing a plan targeted at showcasing the benefits of our capital to private sector players there. We are thrilled that due to our efforts, companies like airBaltic are seeing the value we have to offer as a tourism and business destination, and are independently directing plans that connect the UAE capital to more markets around the world.”

He continued: “Tourists from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have, for years, been travelling to Abu Dhabi to enjoy the many family attractions that the city has to offer. Now, with a more convenient and affordable means to travel here, we are optimistic that we will witness a growing demand on our tourism offerings as we endeavour to support similar initiatives. This programme will further cement the capital’s position as a destination of distinction.”

Visitors from the three Baltic countries also benefit from a visa-on-arrival policy, in addition to a codeshare agreement with Etihad Airways, which will give them unparalleled access to countries around the world. “By including the capital’s national carrier in the new programme, Abu Dhabi can also become the gateway for our Baltic guests to travel to many other countries in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Australia,” added Al Dhaheri.

AirBaltic is a state-owned Latvian  carrier and the country’s flag carrier, with its head office on the grounds of Riga International Airport in Mārupe municipality near Riga.  Its main hub is at the Riga International Airport, with further bases at Tallinn Airport and Vilnius Airport. As part of the initiative, it will be operating a brand-new aircraft, the CS 300.

Commenting on the launch of its latest destination, Wolfgang Reuss, SVP Network Management of airBaltic, said: “Riga is a dynamic city and the very business center of the Baltic states. We are thrilled to connect Riga and Abu Dhabi as it opens up connections not only to Latvia but also to our wider home region, the Baltic states with Tallinn and Vilnius as well as Northern Scandinavia with fast connections to Stockholm, Helsinki, Oslo and many more regional points in Northern Europe.”

This initiative is another milestone in the series of marketing and promotional efforts focused on connecting Abu Dhabi to more markets in Northern and Eastern Europe. Earlier this month, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi announced the launch of a direct flight programme between Moscow and Abu Dhabi that is aimed at providing Russian residents a convenient and affordable way to travel to the capital.