With nearly all flights grounded due to COVID-19, Lithuania’s largest international airport in Vilnius has been converted into a drive-in cinema. Lithuanians welcome this entertainment with around 150 cars showing up for the first movie screening. Screenings at the airport will continue into May.
An unconventional way to use an airport
The airside apron of Vilnius Airport has been turned into a drive-in cinema for the first time in its history. The “Aerocinema – The Journey Begins” project will run until the end of May.
With a nationwide quarantine and movie theatres closed, the organizers of the Vilnius Film Festival saw this downtime as an opportunity to screen films out in the open. Social distancing, the best way to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus, is being well-observed. And what better place than an airport apron for the open-air cinema.
At the Vilnius airport tarmac, vehicles were parked at least two meters apart with a maximum of two people per vehicle. Occupants of the cars present were under strict instruction to keep their windows shut and to stay in at all times.
Despite these restrictions, moviegoers were delighted to be there. For most, it was a chance to go out after staying at home for so long. The first movie screened this past Wednesday, 29th April, was the Oscar-winning South Korean film ‘Parasite.’
Lithuanians have found a clever way to combine airports, cinema and social distancing 📽️🚗 pic.twitter.com/Wj5qOOVwEn
— DW News (@dwnews) May 1, 2020
With no net passenger revenue expected for most airlines in the coming months, this outdoor cinema project is a sign of support to both the aviation and movie industries, both going through difficult times as a result of the restrictions caused by the pandemic.
Travel Through Cinema
Keeping up with the airport’s travel theme, movies from nearly every continent will be shown each week – Europe, Asia, North and South America.
The makeshift drive-in cinema is sold out for the next couple of days. Interestingly, the films shown at the airport were initially purchased for screening the annual international film festival in Vilnius. The event was supposed to take place in March but was canceled due to the lockdown in Lithuania.
The film screening on the tarmac will be a once in a lifetime experience for many. To have access to an area that is usually restricted to most of the public (unless inside an aircraft) is quite a treat.
Resumption of Flights
While some airlines will remain grounded for much longer, Lithuanian flights were allowed to resume on 30th April following an announcement made by the national government the day before. Lithuania banned air travel in early April, with only flights having individual permissions able to take-off. As of 30th April, the government has allowed flights to resume, but only to approved destinations. Restrictions banning people from leaving the country will be lifted on 4th May.
Vilnius-London flights will resume on 12th May while Lithuanian Airports suggests that Frankfurt, Copenhagen, and Warsaw will be some of the first destinations accessible from Vilnius as part of a gradual resumption of air travel.
About Lithuanian Airports
The Lithuanian Airports is a state enterprise which comprises a network of three air gateways: Vilnius, Kaunas, and Palanga. These three airports combined served 6.5m passengers 62,000 flights in 2019. During the 2019/2020 winter season, 15 airlines performed flights from Lithuanian Airports on 76 regular routes, comprising 51 cities in 26 countries.
Half of humanity has been on lockdown for over a month now, and the date for life to get back to normal still uncertain. Vilnius’ outdoor cinema is a breath of fresh air. Indeed, it can almost be considered a luxury after such long confinement at home.
What do you think about the Vilnius Airport drive-in cinema? Should this be done at other airports around the world? Let us know what you think in the comments.