Passenger Air Transport to Third Countries to Resume on 17 March
On 9 March, the Cabinet of Ministers lifted the ban on international passenger air transportation to and from third countries. Flights, including non-scheduled leisure passenger services organised by tour operators, to and from third countries can be operated as of 17 March.
Amendments to Cabinet Regulation No. 360 have been made to promote travel safety. In other countries, including Estonia and Lithuania, international passenger services to and from third countries, including charter flights to tourist destinations, are permitted. Consequently, travellers use these countries as transit countries to enter Latvia or to travel by charter flights from airports in the neighbouring countries, after which they return to Latvia by road. This type of travel reduces the chances of tracing travellers and ensuring that the epidemiological safety measures are complied with.
Also, the lifting of the ban on passenger traffic to and from third countries will have a positive impact on the operation and competitiveness of Riga Airport and the national airline airBaltic, as Latvia remains one of the last EU Member States to ban such traffic and thus it has a negative effect on the competitiveness of the aviation industry. The Covid-19 crisis in the aviation industry has led to a significant drop in passengers, flights and revenue in 2020.
Compared to the prevalence of the disease within Latvia, the number of Covid-19 cases imported into the country is small, especially the number of cases imported by air. In 2020, a total of 40 904 cases of Covid-19 disease were confirmed in Latvia, of which 892 cases were imported, and of them 250 cases were imported by air, which is 0.61% of all confirmed cases. Moreover, since the requirement to test for Covid-19 before travelling has been introduced, the number of imported cases has continued to decline.
It is possible to ensure epidemiologically safe passenger transportation by air – a negative Covid-19 test result is required for boarding the aircraft, a QR code must be presented, which confirms the completion of covidpass.lv, while carriers are obliged to make sure that passengers can present the requested documents.
Upon entering Latvia, all passengers will have to observe the set safety measures – no later than 72 hours before boarding the aircraft a PCR Covid-19 test must be taken, presenting a confirmation of a negative result before boarding. Also, passengers must fill in the e-confirmation on the website Covidpass.lv 48 hours before entering Latvia; 10 days of self-isolation must be observed after entering Latvia if returning from a country with a serious health risk. Other national safety measures must also be complied with.
We encourage passengers to read carefully the epidemiological safety requirements of the countries of destination as well as of those countries that travellers cross in transit. A summary of the restrictions imposed in various countries is available on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' and at reopen.europa.eu.