European Commission mobility chief: No need for fully state-owned airline

Henrik Hololei.
Henrik Hololei. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

A 100 percent state-owned airline is neither sensible nor sustainable, the Estonian head of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport says, while the recent proposal to both amalgamate the three current state-owned aviation companies and lay the foundations for their part-privatization is a good one, he says.

Henrik Hololei, who holds the Commission's mobility and transport directorate-general, said that: "The current situation with the various cross-related companies belonging to the same owner, the state, seemed a little incomprehensible and, in a sense, illogical."

"The move towards a transparent and clear structure is therefore to be welcomed," Hololei continued, adding that such a clearer and simpler structure would certainly be understandable also to potential investors, and, he hopes, a suitable investor will be found.

Hololei said, however, that this would not lead to significant changes in the Estonian aviation landscape. "Change comes through action, not change in name or structure," he said.

"Let me repeat what I have said before - the first priority for a state-owned airline should be to serve the people of its country, but if the company doesn't consider it important, and the owner doesn't insist on it, then nothing will change," he said.

Last Thursday the cabinet gave approval to a Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications proposal for the creation of a new aviation group combining airline Nordica, its subsidiary Regional Jet and maintenance firm Transpordi Varahaldus under the one umbrella, telegraphing the eventual privatization of the emerging group.

Company strategy will not change as a result, overall, however, Holoei added, nor will it lead to more direct flights to and from Tallinn Airport appearing.

The economic affairs ministry also has to consult with the European Commission on state aid risk mitigation in the first instance, though Holohei said he thought this would not be an issue.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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