Photo taken on March 14, 2020 shows the Riga International Airport in Riga, Latvia. In order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, Latvia will temporarily suspend international passenger traffic via its airports, ports and border crossings and ban all organized public events, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins announced on Saturday. (Photo by Janis/Xinhua)
Photo taken on March 14, 2020 shows the Riga International Airport in Riga, Latvia. In order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, Latvia will temporarily suspend international passenger traffic via its airports, ports and border crossings and ban all organized public events, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins announced on Saturday. (Photo by Janis/Xinhua)

The Latvian government has agreed to inject 54.43 million euros (58.64 million U.S. dollars) in the capital of Riga International Airport after the COVID-19 pandemic has brought its operations to a virtual standstill, the Baltic country’s Ministry of Transport informed Thursday.

The airport’s capital will be increased by 49.91 million euros, and 4.51 million euros worth of dividends that otherwise would go to the government budget will be left at the airport’s disposal, the ministry said.

These support measures are intended to help the airport to weather the COVID-19 crisis and stabilize its finances, the ministry said.

Riga Airport is the region’s main transport hub, ensuring Latvia’s international connectivity, said Transport Minister Talis Linkaits, also stressing the airport’s role as strategic infrastructure, essential for Latvia’s national security.

The capital increase will enable the airport to remain operational during the coronavirus crisis and continue work on key investment projects, the ministry said.

On April 7, the airport’s management announced a decision to lay off around 500 of its 1,200 staff to offset the crisis impact.

“Forecasts suggest that the impact from the virus crisis will last not for days or weeks, but for months and years. As recently as a month ago, Riga Airport was the Baltic states’ leading aviation enterprise with ambitious development plans, but today we are no longer competing for the leading position and best performance results — today, we are fighting for survival.

Even according to the most optimistic forecasts, the airport’s operation volumes might reach 80 percent of last year’s results by 2021,” the airport’s management said in April. Enditem

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