Lithuania planning for airspace redesign

A ten per cent increase in the number of flights has led Lithuanian provider Oro navigacija to plan measures designed to enhance the nation’s airspace capacity.

During the nine months of this year, Oro navigacija’s air traffic controllers handled 204,200 flights in the Lithuanian airspace, i.e. by 10 per cent more flights, compared to the same period last year.

Overflights accounted for three quarters (155,00) of the total number of flights. Compared to the same period last year, the number of overflights increased by 9.7 per cent.

“Taking into consideration the growing number of flights, and in preparation for the potential growth next year, the business will seek to reorganise the structure of the airspace,” said Mindaugas Gustys, the air navigation service provider’s director general.

“The possibilities of opening additional ATC sectors are being analysed. The airspace structure reorganisation could cover both the lower (lower than 3,000m AMSL) and the upper (higher than 3,000m AMSL) airspace. Various possibilities and necessary measures are under consideration.”

In June, on the initiative of Oro navigacija, in response to a considerable increase in the number of overflights, an additional ATC sector was implemented: the upper airspace of Lithuania, extending from 10 to 20 km AMSL, was divided into two sectors which allowed capacity of the upper airspace of the Republic of Lithuania to be doubled enabling 90 aircraft to be managed per hour.

In the period January–September, air traffic controllers provided services to 35,700 aircraft taking off from/landing at Vilnius airport, i.e. more by 21 per cent, compared to the same period last year.

During the same period the number of aircraft movements in Kaunas airport made up 7,100, i.e. decreased by 26.3 per cent, compared to last year. An increase in flights in Kaunas over last year’s nine months was due to two peak months in summer – July and August – when the runway of Vilnius airport was under reconstruction and flights were redirected to Kaunas. In July and August of 2017, the number of aircraft movements handled at Kaunas was recorded at 2,346 and 2,319, respectively.

Over the nine months of this year, the number of flights at Palanga and Šiauliai were 3,500 and 2,400 thousand, respectively. Compared with the same period of 2017, the flight number in Palanga increased by 1 per cent, in Šiauliai by 8.5 per cent.

Over the nine months of this year, the largest number of flights in the Lithuanian airspace was conducted by five air companies: Finland’s Finnair (19,000 flights, up 5.8 per cent compared to last year), Latvia’s Air Baltic (18,700, a 14.9 per cent increase), Russia’s Aeroflot (16.3 thousand, or 20.9 per cent increase), Germany’s Lufthansa (13.8 thousand, or 3 per cent increase) and Ireland’s Ryanair (10,800, a 28.4 per cent increase). Compared to the five major users of the Lithuanian airspace over the same period last year, the Irish Ryanair replaced Russia’s air company Rosiya which came sixth this year.

During September of 2018, air traffic controllers handled 24,700 flights in Lithuanian airspace, i.e. more by 6.5 per cent, compared to September 2017. The number of overflights accounted for 18,900, i.e. increased by 8.2 per cent, compared to the same period last year.

The number of aircraft movements handled in Vilnius in September made up 4,300 thousand (6.5 per cent increase, compared to last year’s September), in Kaunas 835 (11.6 increase), in Palanga 417 (decrease of 4.5 per cent), in Šiauliai 183 (decrease of 40.6 per cent). The considerable decrease in flights at Šiauliai airport was due to the lower number of operations conducted by the NATO operations.