New Air Boss Palmer: 'It's a Tough Business'
All eyes turned to incoming Estonian Air CEO Jan Palmer on Wednesday, in search of better news after the sacking of the company's head in the wake of more gloomy results.
"Estonia has a problem, but a lot of other airlines are also having problems in this environment today. It's a very tough business,“ Palmer said at a press conference (see video).
He continued: "The situation in Estonia is not so different from some of the companies that ive been working for. I always believe its possible to solve it. I have been doing this kind of turnaround of companies for many years because part of the business in aviation is that it goes up and down all the time. I honestly believe it is possible to get it down to at least a break even situation.“
Asked to pinpoint his predecessor's biggest mistake, Palmer said: "In broad terms, to try to establish a hub and spoke system, a big network system, when you are very close to Riga, Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen - it's a tough mission because there is not enough food for everybody. And I think that is maybe the biggest problem why it has not materialized as they have tried to build up the system [...] Because you wont get enough passengers into the system. I think it's very hard in Tallinn to do that.“
Palmer would not venture a guess on how long it would take to get the carrier back on its feet, but he said he had been able to turn around several companies for the better in the past.
From Sweden, Palmer most recently headed the Danish carrier Cimber Sterling, which went into bankruptcy last year.
In his defense, supervisory board chairman Erkki Raasuke said Palmer had been recruited to lift the company out of difficulty. Palmer's experience with troubled companies made him a stronger candidate for the job, according to Raasuke.
After reporting a nine-month loss of 20.2 million euros today, Estonian Air sacked CEO Tero Taskila and the supervisory board members stepped down. The minister of economic affairs later said that he hoped Erkki Raasuke would continue as chairman of the supervisory board, as he has only held the post for a short period.