Ex-economics minister: Tallinn Airport should have received state aid

Taavi Aas.
Taavi Aas. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Former Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Taavi Aas (Center) believes that fee increases at Tallinn Airport could have been avoided if the state had provided compensation to companies to help soften the impact of rising energy prices. As a result of the airport's decision to increase fees, budget airline RyanAir announced the discontinuation of six of its routes from Tallinn.

Aas told ERR, that the reason behind the increase in fees at Tallinn Airport, is the significant rise in energy costs.

"I don't know exactly what the 30 percent (increase) consists of, but energy costs are certainly a significant part of it. And as we all know, the current government has not been very helpful to businesses in relation to the increase in energy prices. This is probably also a reason for the rise in fees," said Aas.

"It is quite clear, that if companies in other countries are supported during times of crisis, but in Estonia they are not, then we will start to lose out in terms of competitiveness. This is probably an example of that," Aas said.

"Last spring, when we made proposals for the supplementary budget, I also put forward proposals for the next support package for businesses, but unfortunately this was not (deemed) suitable for the Reform Party," added Aas, who is running in the upcoming Riigikogu  elections.

According to Aas, there is no reason to fear that the provision of state funds in this case, might be looked upon unfavorably by the European Commission, as it is not the type of support which would be considered to distort the competition between different companies.

"No. In the past, simplified aid rules applied to micro and small enterprises, and the European Commission has since extended them to medium-sized enterprises," said Aas, adding that the majority of businesses in Estonia fall into these categories.

He then pointed out, that the European Commission also allows for large companies to receive state aid specifically for the purpose of helping to alleviate the impact of the energy crisis and its resulting price increases.

"There is certainly no risk here, that there would be some kind of fines," said Aas. "It is a question of willingness," he added.

On Friday, Ryanair said, that its decision to discontinue flights on six of its routes from Tallinn was a direct response to the airport's plan to raise fees by 33 percent.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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