Riga's second airport due to open in Q2 2013

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The Latvian capital Riga will benefit from a second international gateway following the planned opening of a new airport in its vicinity.

The facility, which is located near Tukums, 50km (31 miles) from Riga, is scheduled to become operational in the second quarter of 2013.

A management company, set up by the local municipality and a pool of private investors in 2005, has assumed responsibility for converting the derelict military airfield to a commercial project.

"We'll brand it as a low-cost destination under the name of Jurmala airport to underline its proximity to popular Jurmala seaside resort area," says commercial and business development director Marina Samuilova.

"We've already built a passenger terminal, refurbished the runway and infrastructure so that it could handle up to 3,000 landings and takeoffs a year."

The airport operator is in talks with several foreign budget carriers which are considering launching charter and seasonal passenger services to Latvia.

"We're also negotiating with Air Baltic about the possibility of using Jurmala as a backup airport for emergencies when problems arise at Riga International airport," says Samuilova.

After inspecting Jurmala, Latvian communications minister Aivis Ronis said the government would encourage further private investment in the airport development by providing regulatory and legal support.