FINNAIR AND Lithuanian Airlines have agreed to co-operate in the joint development of passenger services between Helsinki and Vilnius, as well as beyond their respective home bases.

Marketing and ground-handling activities will be covered, but there are denials that equity stakes will be taken by either airline.

In contrast to other Baltic-state operators, the Lithuanian Government has decided not to privatise its national carrier, and intends to keep strict control over its operation. Foreign-capital injections through privatisation are regarded as a threat, rather than a chance to create new possibilities.

"If you look back at these five years since Lithuania became independent, we have grown to be the most powerful and stable airline in the Baltics," claims Lithuanian deputy director-general Jonas Jutkelis.

Lithuanian and Finnair will begin codesharing flights between the capitals of the two countries on 19 August, with five weekly frequencies. Finnair will operate three weekly flights, using McDonnell Douglas DC-9s, while Lithuanian Airlines will fly Boeing 737-200s on two flights a week.

Meanwhile, Finnair is to open a new terminal at Helsinki's Vantaa International Airport in October, with which it hopes will allow it to capture more of the market between North America and the Baltics.

Source: Flight International