Tallinn Airport is ready for an increase in passenger numbers, despite redundancies made in the spring, if restrictions on air travel are lifted on January 1. Airlines have already shown interest in opening new routes.
From the new year, when European Union member states set coronavirus restrictions they must not limit air traffic, the European Commission has decided - something which Estonia has done, limiting direct flights to countries with a high infection rate.
Minister of Economic Affairs Taavi Aas (Center) confirmed on Friday there will be no flight restrictions set by the government from January 1.
Currently, 11 international routes are open from Tallinn Airport and marketing director Eero Pärgmäe said more routes can be added from the new year. Turkish Airlines wants to reestablish the Istanbul connection and Belavia hopes to start flying to and from Minsk, there is also interest in reopening routes to Kyiv, Moscow and Vilnius.
Connections to non-EU counties will also reopen and tour operators are planning to start operating charter flights to Turkey and Egypt, marketing manager at Novatours Olev Riisberg said. Additionally, flights to Bulgaria, Greece and the Greek islands will restart in the spring.
While Tallinn Airport is ready to increase the number of flights, Pärgmäe said this will not happen quickly as passenger numbers are low and, in the spring, the airport made 30 percent of staff redundant to save money.
Pärgmäe said currently the biggest problems the airport faces are "bottlenecks" at arrivals when people fill out passenger travel declaration forms and when they are waiting for coronavirus tests.
"Our request is to fill in the form digitally before arriving in Tallinn. In case of testing, please keep a reasonable distance at the queuing machine," he said.
"Although the news about the vaccine has been very positive, in all likelihood, even if flying starts to recover in the summer, the final recovery will take years," said Pärgmäe.
Head of the aviation department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs Taivo Linnamägi told ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" that the government is advising people to limit international travel and only do so when necessary. Travelers should also follow the Health Board's advice.
Editor: Helen Wright