None of Estonia’s MEPs would fly with the Nordic Aviation Group, claimed Yana Toom in last week’s “Kahekõne.” ERR’s Estonian news portal went and checked - and found out that with one exception, Toom had been largely right.
MEP Yana Toom (Center/ALDE) stated in ETV’s “Kahekõne” last week that she didn’t fly with NAG both because they were unreliable and because of its treatment of Estonian pilots. ERR’s Estonian news portal asked her colleagues in Brussels if the same applied to them.
Tarand: Not compensating Estonian Air’s crews was the last straw
MEP Indrek Tarand (independent/GEFA) said that Toom’s comment was certainly true as far as he was concerned. “The reason for it is first and foremost my conviction that the bungled approach of the governments at the time to Estonian Air brought the state a loss,” Tarand said.
He also said that the last straw had been the decision of the current government not to pay Estonian Air’s pilots and cabin crews the compensation they would have been entitled to.
“In that moment I decided that I wouldn’t travel with this NAG. In the beginning the decision seemed almost a bit treasonous and unpatriotic. But now that I know about Adria Airways’ financial situation and the quality of the service I’m very happy that I’m mostly flying with the world’s other best Estonian-speaking airline, namely Finnair,” Tarand said.
Tarand also mentioned that NAG’s first ticket offer was noticeably more expensive than the prices of Estonian Air had been up to that point.
Lauristin: Gaping difference between price and quality
MEP Marju Lauristin (SDE/PASD) said that in her case, Toom’s statement was wrong, as she depended on direct flights and had no other choice but to travel with NAG.
“I’ve said it before, it’s exceedingly annoying that these flights are often late,” Lauristin said. She also said the planes were old and uncomfortable. “If I can, I fly with someone else. But often there’s no other choice, as they’re the only ones with direct flights, and all the other flights take a lot longer,” she said.
Asked about the company’s request of Estonians to fly with them out of patriotism or national pride, Lauristin said that NAG was a private company that took a lot of money for providing low quality and called it patriotism. “Anyone could do that,” she said.
“I think that all of us have thought about what would have been more sensible, paying off Estonian Air’s debts or putting that same money into this new company without any idea what the result would be. One thing is clear, Estonian Air offered much better service,” Lauristin said.
Paet: An e-country's company without electronic check-in
MEP Urmas Paet (Reform/ALDE), similar to Lauristin, said that he had to fly with NAG from time to time. “The biggest issue is the bad balance of price and quality. Too many delays, using old planes of random airlines,” Paet said.
Another shortcoming he pointed out was the lack of an electronic check-in in the case of a company that advertised itself as part of a country that is strong in information technology. “There’s plenty of room for development, and not having the good cabin crews of Estonian Air is a great loss,” Paet said.
Kallas: Can’t fly with NAG for practical reasons
MEP Kaja Kallas (Reform/ALDE) said that as she generally travelled with her son, the most important thing to her was that the trip wasn’t during his sleeping hours, and that it was as comfortable as possible.
“As NAG’s flights are in the evening and generally arrive late, we try to fly on Friday morning, but as there are none of NAG’s direct flights then, we have to use another airline,” Kallas said.
She also pointed out that other airlines’ flights were usually a lot cheaper, up to three times cheaper in fact. “That’s also an argument in the other airlines’ favor,” Kallas said.
At the same time, Kallas said that her family had flights booked with NAG in April. “We basically haven’t given up on them, but I have to fly with other airlines a lot for practical reasons,” she said.
Kelam: This company needs to be supported of course
The most positive feedback about NAG’s services came from MEP Tunne Kelam (IRL/EPP). He disagreed with Yana Toom’s statement that none of the other MEPs were flying with the airline. “I can’t speak for others, but this statement certainly doesn’t apply to me,” he said.
He said he was pleased that the leaders of the Estonian economy had enough courage and perseverance left to face the challenge of a new Estonian airline. “This company needs to be supported of course, and it its flights to be used as often as possible,” he stressed.
Kelam remarked that the last two Mondays he flew with NAG were particularly heart-warming, as he got the chance to meet flight attendants and pilots he recognized again.
Sakkov: A little patience doesn’t hurt
Member of NAG’s management board Erik Sakkov said that it was natural that the customers had high demands right from the start. “However, I’d like to point to the background - the company is a four-month old baby, a little patience doesn’t hurt, what we want can’t all be had all that quickly,” he said.
Sakkov pointed to Adria Airways’ Star Alliance membership as well. “This has made it possible to develop routes in such a way that in the summer we’ll already fly to 16 destinations,” he said.
NAG’s cooperation with Adria Airways also influenced how prices developed in the beginning. But now the pricing was in the hands of the Estonian airline. “We use the classic dynamic pricing model - buy early, and it’s very cheap, buy at the last moment, and it’s expensive. That makes it possible to travel for simple people as well,” Sakkov said.
Sakkov added that NAG offered trips in different price categories as well, business, flex, and economy. “I’d say that our prices are very good and very competitive,” he said.
A check-in offered online would be ready in April or May, he said. For the web solution NAG is cooperating with Adria Airways as well as their local partner Hewlett-Packard.
Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn