Finnish carrier Finnair, which used to fly to the South Estonian city of Tartu six times a week before the crisis and was mulling an increase in frequencies, has announced that flights to Tartu will not resume before March of next year, Tartu Postimees reported.
Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas (Reform) told the newspaper that negotiations with the carrier are underway and there's a ray of hope that state aid rules for the period of crisis will enable to reopen the service earlier.
"We've been discussing it in a three-way format - Finnair, Tallinn Airport and the City of Tartu - and we continue to have good cooperation," Klaas said. "Our message to Finnair has been that the European Commission's temporary set of rules for state air provided in support of the economy in the context of the outbreak of COVID-19 enables municipalities to provide additional aid to airlines."
According to Finnair, there is no demand for the service. By way of comparison, flights between Tallinn and Helsinki numbered nine per day before the crisis and will number just two in June. The message of Tartu, according to Klaas, was that the service should resume in the fall. Finnair has yet to respond to the proposal of the city.
Eero Pärgmäe, chief commercial officer of Tallinn Airport, said in his response to Tartu Postimees that in aviation and tourism nothing is certain at this point.
"Step by step, we are trying to understand what will start happening each new month," said Pärgmäe.
"Finnair has said that they will restore the most important services gradually from the summer, also intercontinental flights from July. Everything actually depends on the restoration of demand, but demand's a thing that nobody can tell what it'll do," the CCO of Tallinn Airport said.
Pärgmäe added that the negotiations continue and the parties will examine whether it could be possible to resume flights with the launch of the winter timetable under any conditions.
The flights to Helsiki operated by Finnair were the only regular flights to and from Tartu before the crisis. How the discontinuation of scheduled flights will affect the Tartu airport and whether there will be job cuts has not been discussed yet, according to Pärgmäe.
Editor: Anders Nõmm