Finnish platform could connect Tartu, Helsinki via flight-hailing
A Finnish company is rolling out a new smart mobility platform expanding the ride-hailing concept to the skies, which in the future could enable charter flights to once again provide passengers with a direct connection between Tartu and Helsinki.
There are places all over the world that have an airport, but lack regular direct connections; in Estonia, one such place is Tartu. The university town is, however, home to researchers and employees of international companies, among others whose work occasionally requires travel abroad. Similar regions with airports and nearby international companies but no regular flights exist in Finland and Sweden as well.
The idea behind a flight-hailing platform is to bring together international businesses and smaller planes, for example, which could accommodate flying the company's passengers from point A to point B at a suitable time.
A Finnish startup is currently developing just that in a service that would provide businesses the opportunity to book flights to a suitable destination.
The service is similar in nature to land-based ride-hailing, in which clients use certain apps to find a driver who will take them where they want to go, and their vehicle is exclusively at the client's disposal and won't make any additional stops, Roope Kekäläinen, CEO of Lygg developer FlyMaas OY, explained in a written comment to ERR's radio news.
Nordic Aviation Group (NAG) marketing and communications director Toomas Uibo said that the Finnish company's idea is a novel one in aviation, but a welcome one, if it complies with all aviation-related rules.
"This 'Uber' is a service more suitable for business travel," Uibo said. "And empty legs are flown often in business aviation. It would be very welcome if a model can be developed that doesn't generate empty legs, because they are a huge environmental burden."
He added that he doesn't see an Uber-style service in business aviation posing a threat to scheduled flights. Regarding how difficult it could be to break into the aviation market with a completely new service, he added that he doesn't consider aviation to be very different from any other business in that regard.
"This is actually satisfying people's needs," Uibo explained. "If this need and demand exist, businesses will start offering solutions for them, and if demand is great enough, then the business will work."
Kekäläinen said that the startup wants to provide an international service. One part of this could be making direct business flights possible between Tartu and Helsinki as well as Tartu and Riga.
According to Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas (Reform), the Finns have visited Tartu in order to pitch their idea, but nothing is currently more specific than that. He added that the city's intention to nonetheless find a new carrier via public procurement to serve a permanent, scheduled air connection between Tartu and Helsinki shouldn't interfere with the Finnish startup's plans.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla