Vilnius International Airport (IATA: VNO, ICAO: EYVI) (Lithuanian: Tarptautinis Vilniaus oro uostas) is the largest civil airport in Lithuania. It is located 5.9 km (3.7 mi) south of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. It began operations in 1944. The old terminal was built in 1954.
Vilnius International Airport is a state owned enterprise, established by the Lithuanian Ministry of Transportation in 1991, and the largest of the four major airports in Lithuania by passenger traffic.
The first terminal of Vilnius Airport was built in the present territory of the airport in 1932, however, it has not survived until nowadays. Aircraft from that terminal were flying on Warsaw-Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn route. During the WWII, the airport was used as a military airfield. It resumed its activity as a civil airport as of 17 July 1944.
Lithuanian Airlines (branded later as flyLAL) was established as the Lithuanian flag carrier following independence in 1991 and inherited the Vilnius-based Aeroflot fleet of Tupolev Tu-134, Yakovlev Yak-40, Yak-42 and Antonov An-24, An-26 aircraft, but rapidly replaced these Soviet-era aircraft types with modern Boeing 737 and Boeing 757 jets and Saab 340, Saab 2000 turboprops. Operations were suspended effective 17 January 2009 as a result of growing financial difficulties. With the collapse of flyLAL, the airport lost its scheduled services to Amsterdam, Budapest, Istanbul, Madrid and Tbilisi. flyLAL used to operate to Dublin, Frankfurt, London, Milan and Paris in competition with Aer Lingus, airBaltic or Lufthansa.
airBaltic, the national airline of Latvia and under SAS part-ownership, opened up a second base at Vilnius in 2004 to complement its Riga operation and became the largest carrier at Vilnius, using Boeing 737 jets and Fokker F50 turboprops. At one point, airBaltic operated to 19 destinations from Vilnius but, in 2009, the network covered only three destinations served by two aircraft based at Vilnius.
Another carrier with a base at the airport is Aurela Airlines with a fleet of two Boeing 737 and two Boeing 757 jets, specialising in business charter operations and holiday charter flights to African, Asian, and European resort destinations. Vilnius International Airport is main HUB for Aurela, FlyLAL Charters, and Aviavilsa and Secondary HUB for airBaltic and Estonian Air . It used to be a main HUB for Star1 Airlines until their end of operations in September 2010.
Terminal, airlines and destinations
The airport is notable for its 1950s arrivals terminal building. It is a standard Soviet airport terminal design, originally intended for an airport with up to 20 aircraft movements per day. On the outside, it is decorated with sculptures of soldiers, workers and aviators, while inside walls and ceilings feature wreaths, bay leaves and stars, and until recently, the Soviet hammer and sickle, typical decor for Soviet public buildings of early post-war years.
During the post-war period, in 1945, the construction of the airport building was commenced and started in 1949. The construction was completed on 4 October 1954. On 22 October, the first airport passenger was checked-in for Moscow flight. The building housed the airport authority and other airport services, and was also used for passenger service. Since 1993, the building has been used as the arrival terminal only. The building is included into the Register of Immovable Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Lithuania.
In November 2007, the new 17,000 m (180,000 sq ft) terminal building was opened for operations which improved the capacity and facilities of the airport and complies with the requirements of the Schengen agreement. The passenger throughput of the terminal increased, passenger service quality was improved and more stringent aviation security measures were implemented. The new area of the renovated passenger terminal now reaches 37,462 m (403,240 sq ft). It is equipped with 6 passenger boarding bridges, modern passenger check-in equipment, travel value & duty free shops were opened as well as business lounge and VIP Lounge.
Baltic's busiest airports by passenger traffic
Incidents and Accidents
Direct train services between Vilnius Airport Railway Station and the central station of Vilnius were started in October 2008.
Buses connect the airport with Vilnius Central Station, Vilnius city centre and Šeškinė (the north of the city).
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