Three airlines in bidding for Saaremaa, Hiiumaa air service contracts

NyxAir's ATR 42-500 turboprop regional airliner at Kuressaare Airport in Saaremaa.
NyxAir's ATR 42-500 turboprop regional airliner at Kuressaare Airport in Saaremaa. Source: Mait Ots/ERR

Three airlines submitted bids to a procurement concluded earlier this week for air service on two routes between Tallinn and the Western Estonian islands Saaremaa and Hiiumaa — Skystream Airlines, founded two years ago, Diamond Sky, which currently serves the Kärdla route, and NyxAir, which currently serves the Kuressaare route.

The Estonian islands' air link procurements have been cause for dispute for years. Last summer, Transaviabaltika, which had been operating the Tallinn-Kärdla air route, announced that the route was no longer economically viable due to increasing input prices.

The Lithuanian airline also turned to court to escape its contract, following which Estonia's Transport Administration compromised with them and allowed them to terminate the contract. A seven-month-long new procurement followed that ultimately resulted in Transaviabaltika earning one and a half times more per flight.

Meanwhile, NyxAir, which serves the Tallinn-Kuressaare route, announced last summer that their contracts included a fuel compensation measure and that the company had taken price increases into account when signing their deal, however their expenses had likewise gone up more than anticipated, due to which they likewise expected greater compensation.

At the beginning of 2023, the Transport Administration signed a contract with Diamond Sky for the operation of the Tallinn-Kärdla air link with Hiiumaa, which the airline serves with a 33-seat Saab 340A turboprop aircraft.

Since 2020, NyxAir has operated the Tallinn-Kuressaare connection with Saaremaa with an ATR 42-500 turboprop regional airliner that seats 48.

According to the conditions of the procurement, the Kuressaare route is to be served by an aircraft that seats at least 42 and was built this century; the Kärdla route, meanwhile, may be served by a smaller plane, with a minimum of 30 seats and no restrictions on aircraft age.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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