Paper: Repeated delays reported on Saaremaa air service with new operator

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The first NyxAir flight from Tallinna-Kuressaare. Source: Margus Muld/ERR

While new operator NyxAir is yet to finish the first full month of operating the Kuressaare-Tallinn air service, delays and operating of the service with substitute aircraft have occurred on repeated occasions, regional newspaper Saarte Hääl reported over the weekend.

The flight from Tallinn to Kuressaare was delayed on two consecutive days in the second half of the week. The flight on Friday morning was delayed for three hours, with a substitute plane ordered from Nordica taking off from Kuressaare at noon instead of 8:50 a.m.

NyxAir made a proposal to the Transport Administration right away that the service be operated with the smaller aircraft of the previous operator, but the Transport Administration refused citing the requirement set forth in the contract that the service must be operated with an aircraft with a capacity of at least 48 passengers.

The manager of NyxAir, Jaanus Ojamets, said that the deviation on Friday was discovered by pilots in the course of routine checks before takeoff when passengers had already boarded the plane. Ojamets said that he doesn't agree with the claim that their aircraft is experiencing technical problems more often that the planes of other carriers. He said that all the cases have been subjected to an analysis and there have been no repeat problems.  

Commenting on the refusal to allow NyxAir to temporarily operate the service with a smaller aircraft, Kirke Williamson, head of the public transport department at the Transport Administration, said that the contract with the operator was concluded in accordance with the wish of Saaremaa residents to get a bigger aircraft. 

"The Transport Administration makes no exceptions. The wellbeing of passengers is important, therefore we wish for the aircraft to meet the requirements set forth in the contract," Williamson said. 

Mikk Tuisk, mayor of the municipality of Saaremaa, told Saarte Hääl that the island's administration has heard about residents' complaints over frequent delays in the air service. 

"It's regrettable that their start has not been such as to justify our expectations," Tuisk said.

The municipality mayor said that while the aircraft is bigger and the level of onboard service has improved, this helps the island community little when the service is not dependable. Tuisk added that the municipality government will communicate with the carrier and the Transport Administration and that hopefully the aircraft will be cured of its " childhood ailments" soon and the carrier will also obtain a substitute aircraft.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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