Ambassador of Latvia: ''We're overcoming the post-crisis shock, the flight will facilitate cooperation''
The flight from Kazan to Riga has been organized a year after the meeting of the Baltic diplomat with Minnikhanov
The capital of Tatarstan has won in the struggle against several Russian cities for Latvian destination. As the head of the representative office of Air Baltic Corporation in Russia and the CIS noted, Kazan has been chosen not by chance — the meeting of Rustam Minnikhanov with Ambassador of Latvia in Russia, held a year ago, has played its role here. At the presentation of the new flight, the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya observed a small victory of common travel sense against the background of an increasingly complex relations between the two countries.
How Kazan has won the right to fly to Riga
The direct flight to Riga has recently been presented in Kazan. It is scheduled to be launched on 26 April with a frequency of twice a week. Ambassador of Latvia to Russia Mrs Astra Kurme, the head of the representative office of Air Baltic Corporation in Russia and the CIS countries Andrey Larchenko and the delegation of the Republic of Latvia arrived in the capital of Tatarstan specially for this purpose.
Journalists were informed about the new destination at a press conference in the morning, and after lunch, in a less formal setting, it was presented to the local tour operators. The moderator of the meeting was Andrey Larchenko, a very loquacious speaker, who obviously was in a good mood. He thanked the Tatarstan State Committee on Tourism for the organising the meeting, together with whom in December last year it ''was done a great job''. Larchenko said special thanks to Mrs Kurma — and, as it turned out, it was for a reason.
''I can honestly tell that without this person the flight Kazan—Riga probably would not exist. Because the role that was played including by his visit a year ago in Kazan… The meeting with the president of the Republic of Tatarstan, probably, have laid the foundation that we have today,'' said Andrey Larchenko.
The international airport Kazan, from where, in fact, there will be flights, also received its piece of gratitude, as well as Chamber of Commerce and Industry of RT, about the role of which the head of the State Committee on Tourism Sergey Ivanov has already told.
According to Ivanov, the state committee ''grabbed with both hands'' the possibility of launching direct flights to Riga from Kazan, as this will attract more Europeans to Tatarstan. The department is now actively working on that.
''In fact, there was even a certain competition among Russian cities, where the airline Air Baltic would come, and I am very pleased that the airline and, as I understand it, the Ambassador has made every effort so that Air Baltic came exactly to Kazan. Therefore, I believe that it is our success, this is an additional opportunity to transport tourists in both directions,'' said the chairperson of the State Committee on Tourism.
''Perhaps, we are beginning to overcome the first post-crisis shock''
Astra Kurme in her welcome speech recalled that she visited the capital of Tatarstan exactly a year before the launch of the flight Kazan-Riga, it was on 26 April.
''It rarely happens that we see the results so quickly. I certainly appreciate all the words of gratitude addressed to me, but we can say that if one of the parties has no desire, the Ambassador can do nothing,'' said Mrs Kurma. In addition, the speaker has promised that she will do everything possible to help the Russians to receive a Schengen visa as easily as possible.
Speaking of that, Mrs Kurme touched on the topic of politics, or rather she hoped that the launch of the new flight from Kazan will help to improve the relations between Russia and Latvia.
''I would like to note that the trade turnover between Russia and Latvia in recent months has been growing. This year we start with other indicators of turnover not only between our countries but also between Russia and the European Union as a whole. This means that there are more and more opportunities — maybe we are beginning to overcome the first post-crisis shock, and the new flight will contribute to this cooperation.''
By the way, the interaction between Tatarstan and Latvia will not be limited to the opening of the new flight: the official delegation headed by Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs will arrive in the capital of Tatarstan at the invitation of Rustam Minnikhanov by the first flight Riga-Kazan on 27 April.
At night, taking into account the time for connections
Interestingly, despite the general falling of transportations from Russia to Europe, Air Baltic last year increased the number twofold. Speaking about Kazan, the director of the company said: ''I am confident that we have made the right choice.'' The flights Kazan-Riga-Kazan will be carried out at night. According to Larchenko, it has been chosen based on other flights in order the plane on arrival could connect with 23 other European destinations. The journey time is 2,5 hours, the cost of a ticket Kazan-Riga starts from 118 € one way and € 218 two-way ticket.
Latvian representatives have ensured that Russia remains a high-priority tourism market: the Russians provide the largest share of the tourist flow to Latvia. This year it is expected to increase. By the way, big hopes in this plan are laid particularly on Kazan as the capital of Tatarstan takes the third place in the issuance of Latvian visas after Moscow and St. Petersburg.