Ryanair to close seven more departures from Tallinn
Economy airline Ryanair has announced it will stop flying to seven more destinations from Tallinn from the end of March. The airline pulled two destinations back in December. Tallinn Airport CFO Eero Pärgmäe said that the airline's decision likely follows the airport's decision to hike fees as well as competition on some of the lines.
Ryanair will stop flying from Tallinn to Paphos, Paris, Dublin, Nuremberg, Naples, Billund and Malta. The company ended its Edinburgh and Liverpool flights in December.
Wizzair will stop flying to Venice and Rome and will not reopen its connection to Naples. Norwegian will not return to flying to Stockholm.
"It is the purpose of an airport to create and develop air links, and we are very sorry to see lines closed. We will launch efforts to replace those connections now," Pärgmäe said.
Pärgmäe said that Ryanair will continue flying to Vienna, London, Milan, Barcelona, Stockholm, Berlin, Rome and Venice.
Airport hikes its fee by 30 percent
Pärgmäe told ERR that airlines' decisions follow several considerations, including fierce competition in the form of cheap tickets on many lines.
"The field of aviation has seen rapid recovery since Covid last year, especially for economy airlines. This also meant fierce competition for markets. Throughout this winter, we have seen balance returning, and airlines are reconsidering lines they opened last year."
Tallinn Airport also announced an airport fee hike for the first time in a decade.
"We launched consultations with airlines for hiking the fee of flying to Tallinn by 30 percent last summer. We are forced to hike our fees as 20 percent inflation makes it impossible to offer the service at previous prices. In other words, growing costs no doubt affect airlines' decisions," Pärgmäe suggested.
The airport CFO added that some economy airlines still had so-called new line discounts in Tallinn and would not have seen a fee hike before next year, meaning that some connections were axed purely due to poor profitability.
Airline within its rights to cancel flights
Many who had bought Ryanair tickets were unpleasantly surprised Wednesday morning when the airline notified them of cancellations. Wizzair has often been criticized for the same practice.
ERR asked Pärgmäe to explain such conduct on the part of airlines and the practice of canceling tickets already sold in a situation where it would be possible to simply sell no more from a certain date.
"Such conduct is understandably disgruntling from the passenger's point of view, and we are very sorry about that. These changes are not made overnight by airlines. They are communicated months in advance, and we are talking about March, or two months from now. Legally speaking, airlines are within their rights to make such decisions if they notify customers ahead of time. They are obligated to return people's money or offer them replacement flights. In the case of economy airlines, it is difficult to offer replacement flights, at least to the same destination," Pärgmäe answered and recommended people take out travel insurance.
New destinations expected this summer
Pärgmäe emphasized that the bad news is offset by positive signals at Tallinn Airport. "Lufthansa is set to add departures to Frankfurt and Munich. AirBaltic will boost their volumes by 15 percent and SAS will also add departures," the CFO said.
"AirBaltic will add four summer links this year: Split, Dubrovnik, Greece, Rhodes, as well as additional departures for existing connections. The Berlin line will also make a comeback."
The end of March will bring SunExpress regular flights to Antalya four times a week. Greek airline Aegean will resturn its Tallinn-Athens link in May.
Tallinn Airport forecast earlier this year that it will cater to three million passengers in 2023 for an annual increase of 300,000 because people travel a lot again after Covid.
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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Marcus Turovski