Saaremaa Dumps Estonian Air Contract, Seeks New Partner
Saare county government has decided to terminate its contract with the national carrier Estonian Air, thus closing the Tallinn-Kuressaare air route, and to launch a new public procurement to find another company to service it.
Flights have become fewer and the fares higher than was initially agreed, reported ETV. Local officials assert that passenger numbers per flight have also been declining as a result.
Although the government subsidizes each one-way flight with 2,000 euros, Estonian Air has said that expenses are still not being covered.
"The frequency of flights is not satisfactory. There are currently seven flights per week, but we would like to see 11 flights. Furthermore, the cost of plane tickets has significantly increased. Those are the reasons that passenger numbers have fallen,” said County Governor Kaido Kaasik.
Before the changes in the flight schedule were made, the popularity of the route increased steadily, Kaasik said, as 49 percent of seats were filled in the first quarter, then 57 percent in the second quarter and 63 percent in the third quarter of 2011. But when the schedule became sparser and prices went up, Kaasik said, the figure fell down sharply to 36 percent.