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airBaltic and UPB Nams launch largest Baltic Cargo Hub at Riga Airport

Monday, February 12, 2024

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airBaltic, the flag carrier of Latvia, is excited to reveal its collaboration with UPB Nams, SIA for the creation of the Baltic Cargo Hub at RIX Riga Airport. This cutting-edge facility is poised to be the premier air cargo center in the Baltic region, enhancing Riga Airport’s role as a key air freight hub. Designed for efficiency, the hub will offer direct apron access to streamline the import, export, and transit of goods.

Kaspars Briškens, Minister of Transport of the Republic of Latvia: “The Baltic Cargo Hub marks an important milestone for Latvia’s aviation sector, strengthening our position on the regional airfreight and logistics map. This state-of-the-art facility not only exemplifies our commitment to enhancing Latvia’s logistics capabilities but also reinforces our strategic vision of leveraging aviation as a catalyst for economic growth and international trade. Through initiatives like these, we are not just expanding our infrastructure but are also building bridges that connect Latvian businesses to the world, fostering innovation, and improving our nation’s competitiveness.”

Martin Gauss, President and CEO of airBaltic: “In 2023, airBaltic delivered over 9 400 tonnes of cargo and mail, maintaining its status as the largest air cargo and mail carrier at RIX Riga Airport to date. However, our existing cargo hangar, fundamental for our operations, will soon be replaced by the Rail Baltica railway track. The upcoming Baltic Cargo Hub will significantly increase our handling capacity at Riga hub, allowing to handle up to 45 000 tonnes of cargo annually. This development will not only boost the airport’s cargo volume, but also bring substantial benefits for airBaltic. Overall, this project represents a significant milestone for our airline and Latvia’s aviation sector, setting a new standard in air cargo handling and logistics in the region.”

Kaspars Rožkalns, Chairman of the Board at UPB Nams: “This project will be both technologically challenging and intensive, demanding close and effective collaboration among all stakeholders – and UPB Nams specialize in precisely these types of industrial projects. We also appreciate the airBaltic’s commitment to constructing the new air cargo hub in accordance with BREEAM sustainability standards, demonstrating the company’s long-term vision. These investments will undoubtedly enhance Latvia’s international competitiveness in aviation logistics, and we are pleased to contribute our expertise and knowledge to the construction process.”

Laila Odiņa, Chairperson of the Board of RIX Riga Airport: Our national airline, airBaltic, is currently the largest aviation cargo and mail carrier at Riga Airport. We are confident that the new cargo handling center will optimize and enhance cargo service processes, providing additional benefits to both the airline and its customers.”

Latvia’s air freight sector is currently focused on four primary segments: the export and import of valuable goods, mail and e-commerce deliveries, transit air freight services, and the transport of non-military items. Despite air cargo representing only 1% of global trade by volume, it accounts for 35% of trade value, highlighting the economic benefits of a robust air freight infrastructure.

The Baltic Cargo Hub will boast advanced, semi-automated handling systems, including a Material Handling System (MHS) and a mail sorting facility, to enhance the efficiency of processing both belly cargo and freighter shipments.

Designed to handle a variety of special cargo, the hub will feature temperature-controlled areas for pharmaceuticals and perishables, and designated zones for hazardous materials, live animals, and high-value shipments.

Additionally, the facility will incorporate key services such as the Food and Veterinary Service and a Customs checkpoint, ensuring comprehensive logistics support.

The project’s development has made use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology, which will continue to be utilized through the construction phase.

With a total area of 6,895 square meters, the hub is set to allocate around 5,000 square meters to cargo operations and approximately 2,000 square meters to office space, adhering to sustainable construction practices as evidenced by BREEAM certification.

The project’s primary partners include:

The project is expected to be completed within a 12-month timeframe.

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