Wizz Air takes initial step into Latvia

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Central European budget carrier Wizz Air is to move into the Latvian market by opening a batch of routes from Riga, the Baltic nation's capital.

The airline plans to start routes to London Luton, Oslo Torp and Turku, Finland, from 28 March next year. Each will be served three times weekly.

It says it will also launch services from Prague to the Italian city of Bari (18 March) and from Budapest to Turku (13 March), both initially twice a week.

All the services will be operated by Airbus A320-200s.

Wizz Air's move into Latvia potentially eats into a market increasingly dominated recently by Riga-based Air Baltic. Wizz describes the three new Riga routes as an "initial network".

"We expect to grow our operations in Riga," comments an airline spokeswoman.

Latvia's transport minister, Kaspars Gerhards, says that recent announcements by Wizz and several other airlines to open new routes or increase frequencies from Riga has proved the success of the airport's new tariff policy, which he says is "designed to be sustainable, transparent and - what is particularly important today - predictable, contributing to development of Riga International Airport into a serious transfer hub in Northern Europe".