On 24 May, for the first time in Latvia – Korea diplomatic relations both capitals were linked by the direct flight which was organized by one of the largest Korean travel agencies HANJIN TRAVEL and operated by Korean Air with the support of the Tourism Department of the Latvian Investment and Development Agency, Riga Airport, Riga Tourism Development Bureau Live Riga and the Latvian Embassy in the Republic of Korea.
The Korean Air Airbus A330-200 aircraft brought more than 200 passengers to Latvia who afterwards headed for a trip around the Baltic countries. Currently three flights are planned for this season - on 24 and 31 May, and on 7 June. All flights are almost sold out.
“I am especially touched and satisfied with the opening of the direct flights between Latvia and Korea. Koreans are active travellers and are open to exploring new destinations. I have a particular pleasure of being able to carry out direct flights project in cooperation with HANJIN TRAVEL and support provided by Investment and Development Agency of Latvia Tourism Department, Riga Airport and Riga Tourism Development Bureau Live Riga,” underlined Latvian Ambassador to Korea Peteris Vaivars when co-hosted departure ceremony of the inaugural flight at the Incheon International Airport.
Since the Latvian Embassy in the Republic of Korea was opened in the late 2015, it has been cooperating with the LIAA Tourism Department, LIVE RIGA and other partners to attract tourists from Korea through organising tourism seminars, taking part in travel fairs and offering a hands-on experience of the country during exploration trips to Latvia. A brochure on Latvia has been produced in the Korean language, and Baltic maps and a Riga brochure have been translated; these publications are available for each passenger of the charter flights.
Ilona Līce, Chairperson of the Board of Riga Airport by welcoming Korean travellers said: “The development of long-haul services is one of the strategic goals of Riga Airport and charter flights are the “first swallows” that allow Riga to mark itself as an attractive destination not only in Europe, where we have already gained a stable position with the widest route network in the Baltics, but also on the world map.”
Andris Ozols, Director of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia, emphasizes: “This event is a benefit to Latvia's recognition in Korea and a proof that the Baltic region can be a convenient European destination for Korean tourists. We see future potential - with successful implementation of this year's charter programme, we will be able to attract new tourist flows from Korea.”
“I'm very pleased that HANJIN TRAVEL cut the first charter flight tape to Latvia, the closest European nation to Korea. It took 28 years to start this charter flight since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1991. I will introduce Latvia's beautiful natural environment and world heritage to Koreans more promptly. Meanwhile, I would like to thank all of the embassy and tourism authorities’ officials for their help, and also, I ask for the Latvian people's great interest and love for Korea,” says director of “HANJIN TRAVEL” Mr. Kyo Wook AHN.
The Korean Air aircraft was traditionally welcomed at Riga Airport with a water salute, and guests from Korea were greeted with a performance by Balti traditional Latvian music ensemble from Babīte.
In the late 2018 in New York, the Foreign Ministers of Latvia and the Republic of Korea signed the Air Traffic Agreement, which was ratified by the Latvian Parliament in January 2019. The coming into force of the agreement establishes the legal framework for launching regular direct flights between the two countries.
Riga International Airport is the largest air traffic hub in the Baltics. The 20 airlines operating at Riga Airport offer more than 80 destinations in the winter season and more than 100 in the summer season. In 2018, Riga Airport handled over 7 million passengers – 44% of the entire Baltic air passenger traffic.
The Embassy of the Republic of Latvia in the Republic of Korea is one of the newest bilateral embassies of Latvia in the world. It is established in September 2015 and its main activities are focused on promotion of bilateral economic relations and the awareness of Latvia in Korea. The first residing Latvian Ambassador in Korea since January 2016 is H.E. Mr. Pēteris Vaivars.
Photo by Riga International Airport
Embassy of the Republic of Latvia in the Republic of Korea
Address: 29, Hannam-daero 36-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, 04417, Republic of Korea
Telephone: (02) 2-2022-3800
Fax: (02) 2-2022-3803