Thursday, February 08, 2007

Winter chill

As I have come north from Lithuania, the weather has grown more wintry.

Riga, yesterday was down to about minus 10, and catching the early flight up to Tallinn this morning has brought me to even chillier climbs: it is currently minus 19. I will not make smug comments about the chaos that a little snow and temperatures of about zero have brought to London. It just irritates me that when winter comes to Southern England, their disorganization makes the tiny problem into a crisis.

It is the first time that I have done all three Baltic Capitals in a single week for some years. It is interesting seeing the relative progress. Despite Labour shortages which, in Vilnius, mean that there are very few taxis, the overall picture is extremely positive. The construction boom in Vilnius is particularly impressive. Meanwhile Riga has become a bustling hub for the whole region with plenty of flights across Europe, and now beyond, offered by airBaltic, the SAS owned dynamic little airline. Ryanair are looking to make Riga a regional hub too, with the prospect of a whole new second terminal being constructed. Compared to the bright lights of Riga, Tallinn seems a little sleepy, but energetic young entrepreneurs are creating a very impressive change in the economy.

Though there are concerns that Latvia might be overheating economically, it is hard to find any particular trigger that would cause immediate disruption. Though times are particularly buoyant, and a slow down will come soon (ish), there is still much to admire in all three countries. Not least their ability to cope with bad winter weather!

Meanwhile I received a phone call yesterday from a friend at the British Embassy in Tallinn. Rather charmingly, the President of Estonia has decided to confer a decoration on me to celebrate the 89th anniversary of the founding of the Republic. I am touched and also delighted to see that several friends have also received (probably much more deserved) recognition too.


dynamite said...

My job involves researching the Latvian and Lithuanian legal markets, I've been calling Riga from snowy London all morning. Such friendly people in both countries, I used to run our Iceland desk and they were a truly miserable bunch.

Jo Christie-Smith said...

The disorganisation in southern England is because the only weather we can actually cope with is a light drizzle...whether this is because it is the mean or the modal of our actual weather, I don't know. Of course, that would assume that we were capable of planning for any type of weather at all....

Anonymous said...

Well, Cicero, congrats on the Esto-gong, well done.

However, what AirBaltic should really do is to offer cut-down prices for intra-Baltic flights. It's more expensive to fly from Riga to Tallinn than to go via Stockholm, Berlin, Helsinki, Copenhagen, and even London -- and I certainly do not mean just Ryanair and Easyjet! This is a huge tourism potential.