There is no commercial need for €4.5 million runway extension to be built at Tartu Airport, the chief commercial officer of Tallinn Airport said on Thursday, after a proposal was floated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.
The plans for the 700-meter runway extension were put forward in the transport development plan of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. The extension would cost €4.5 million and enable Tartu to receive charter flights, cargo flights and larger passenger aircraft, which make up a large part of the fleets of airlines, ERR reports.
Chief commercial officer Eero Pargmäe, who also manages Tartu Airport, said: "The transport development plan is a long-term document. Of course, all topics can be discussed, but at present the runway there is no clear restriction on the development of air traffic. Personally, we do not see the commercial need for extending the runway in the next five years."
He added that the transport development plan is the state's vision, but it does not mean it will be implemented.
Due to holding the title of European Capital of Culture 2024, South Estonia is estimated to see approximately one million visitors, but Pargmäe believes that the existing infrastructure is sufficient for servicing them. "Instead, we are placing greater emphasis on getting more frequent flights and routes," he said.
While Tartu currently has only one external connection, Helsinki, the goal is to launch a Tartu-Stockholm route in 2024. "That would be the next logical step where people from Tartu want to go to," Pargmäe said. The intention also is to supplement the Helsinki route with one lunch-time flight.
Pargmäe said the only partner with whom negotiations regarding the Tartu-Stockholm route could be launched is SAS, but state aid is likely required to open the route.
"It must be acknowledged that there will be no economic profitability on this route for the first few years - its realization would require a funding package from the state and city that could be offered to the carrier," Pargmäe said.
Pargmae added that in the long run, connections with Copenhagen and Warsaw could also be opened from Tartu which these would be achievable without a runway extension. However, supporting contributions of state aid would be needed due to low demand.
Editor: Helen Wright