The Lithuanian Ministry of Economy will launch a tender for the Vilnius-London City route as it seeks a non-low-cost connection to the British gateway, LETA/BNS newswire has reported.

"We've been seeking a business flight to London. We've considered London Heathrow but they don’t have free times there, so London City Airport was chosen. We have lost quite a few investments due to a lack of air service between London and Vilnius. London is a key route mentioned by the investors when they speak about investment challenges in Lithuania," Economy Minister Virginijus Sinkevicius has said.

The tender is set to be launched in September 2018. The Lithuanian government will seek a carrier operating the route between 6 to 12x weekly on a year-round basis. Tickets prices will not be regulated and it is unclear at this moment whether and what form of a subsidy the government will offer.

According to the ch-aviation capacity module, the Lithuanian capital currently sees 17 weekly flights to London Luton (14 operated by Wizz Air and three by Ryanair), as well as six weekly flights to London Stansted operated by the Irish LCC.

As such, Vilnius is one of the very few European capitals without a direct link to either Heathrow, London Gatwick, or London City.

Recently, LOT Polish Airlines has announced it will launch services out of each of Warsaw Chopin and Budapest to London City in early 2019. The Polish flag carrier is actively looking for opportunities to perform PSO or subsidised routes in the region and could be interested in the Lithuanian tender either directly or through its 49%-owned affiliate Regional Jet (Tallinn Lennart Meri).