Together with the government's decision to increase the share capital of Nordica by €30 million on Friday, the state has injected €155 million into its airlines over the past decade. According to CEO of Nordica Erki Urva, the state has remunerated its investments many times over.
Tallinn Airport is working, because cargo flights must still be operated. There are no scheduled passenger flights from Estonia - flights that CCO Eero Pärgmäe calls the airport's main mission. More accurately, three routes have remained during the coronavirus crisis, ETV current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera. Nädal" reported on Sunday.
"Airlines would very much like to come back but it is very difficult to say which carriers are still flying come autumn," Pärgmäe said.
In order to maintain flight connections during complicated times, an airline based in Estonia is necessary. This has justified the supporting of a state carrier since the times of Estonian Air. Taxpayers have injected more than €125 million into national flag carriers during the last decade. The crisis is affecting everyone but the question remains: what will happen next?
At a cabinet meeting, the government on Friday decided to increase the share capital of Nordica by €30 million. It is the continuation of a series of grants. Ten years ago, tax payers injected €85 million into Estonian Air but the losses were great and after the European Commission declared the government funding received by the airline illegal, the company was finished. Estonian Air was succeeded by Nordica, which was granted €40 million.
Because of the history, the discussion over supporting Nordica was heated in the government. "Looking at the past, it is clear that a lot of emotions are connected to this company. This is the same today," Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center) said.
"It was one of the most difficult decisions as it is a question of principle," Finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE) said. "We have bitter experiences regarding aviation. And we don't want to be asked for €20 million today and for €20 million again next year."
CEO of Nordica Erki Urva concluded that the €155 million that the taxpayers have put into Estonian airlines has served its purpose. "I firmly insist that the Estonian state has has remunerated its investments many times over. The state recoups the subsidies we have asked in less than a year," Urva said, adding that without the injections the carrier wouldn't survive and that the money keeps the company going until next summer.
The subsidies carry with them a demand that Nordica must be able to fly to major European cities as soon as the borders are opened.
Editor: Anders Nõmm