Lietuvos Avialinijos, better known as Lithuanian Airlines (LAL), was established in 1991 when Lithuania won its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Over the last 10 years LAL has changed its fleet and has been earmarked for privatization. But its weak market (Lithuania’s population is 3.7 million) could mean it must wait for its expected entry into the European Union in 2004 or 2005 for a real takeoff.
Free trade, reorientation toward the West and tourism have all contributed to the fast development of air traffic in the Baltics. The three Baltic States– Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia–rank among the smallest European nations, but each boasts unique historic sites and landscapes appreciated by tourists, a long tradition in trade and crafts and a skilled workforce.