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Finnair unexpectedly changes Tartu flight schedule, mayor hopes to talk things through

Beginning in November, Finnair will be shifting its Tartu-Helsinki departures to much later times in the day. Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas and Tartu Airport representative Eeri Pärgmäe are unhappy with the unexpected change, as it could lead to a decrease in passengers on the route.

Beginning on November, Tartu-Helsinki flights will begin to depart much later in the evening than previously on four days per week. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday flights will begin to depart at 10:10 p.m. instead of 5:35 p.m., while Sunday's 5:15 p.m. flights have been moved back to 10:00 p.m. Similr changes will be made to Helsinki-Tartu departure times as well, reported ERR's radio news.

According to Tallinn Airport Marketing Director Eero Pärgmäe, such a change came as a surprise to him. He confirmed that the Tartu route in its current form was successful and planes were flying at approximately 70-percent capacity.

Pärgmäe noted that under the current schedule, approxiately 2,000 passengers per month fly out of Tartu with Finnair, with numbers continuing to grow. "It would be ideal if the current schedule remained or was improved, as people have discovered this route," said Pärgmäe. "They have arranged their work and schoolwork according to this [schedule]."

Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas said that the route to Helsingi was important for both the city of Tartu as well as all of Southern Estonia, pointing out that these flights are needed by businessmen, the Tartu University Hospital as well as university students.

Klaas did admit, however, that the departure time changes were not thoroughly negative. According to the mayor, there may be multiple groups of passengers for whom these later times work better. Regardless of mode of transport, however, Klaas cited the importance of stability, which Finnair had been providing as well.

The Tartu mayor said together with Tallinn Airport he would like to meet with Finnair representatives in order to gain some insight into the airline's changes as well as discuss the reasons for it.

According to Pärgmäe, Finnair cited the addition of a seventh daytime flight to its Tallinn-Helsinki route as the reason for the changes to its Tartu-Helsinki route.

"From Tallinn Airport's perspective, the addition of a seventh flight to Tallinn is certainly less important than the maintaining of timely and attractive [departure] times in Tartu," said the airport representatives.

Finnair: Decisions made based upon analysis and demand

Finnair told ERR that Estonia is an important market for the airline, and that an additional departure will be added to its Tallinn-Helsinki route, as was already done this summer.

"This in turn means, however, that Tartu will lose some weekday departures, but will gain new connections from European cities to Tartu," noted the airline. "Such decisions are always preceded by thorough demand analyses."

Editor: Editor: Aili Sarapik

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