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Finance ministry questions Kärdla flight tender process integrity

Kärdla Airport.
Kärdla Airport. Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

The Ministry of Finance has written to the Ministry of Regional and Rural Affairs on what it sees as irregularities in flight connection service provision contracts between the mainland and Estonia's second-largest island, Hiiumaa.

Three consecutive contracts for flight links between Tallinn and Kärdla, Hiiumaa's capital, are under scrutiny, principally regarding whether they prolonged the maximum seven-month duration provided for in legislation and the fact that no proper public tender process was undertaken.

The Ministry of Finance considers that by concluding three consecutive direct contracts, the Ministry of Regional Affairs or its predecessor ministry may have undermined the intent of the EU Public Procurement Directive and may have omitted to keep to the obligation to organize a public procurement procedure, within the strictures of the domestic Public Procurement Act.

The finance ministry stated that: "Formally, insofar as we know, the terms of previous direct contracts had not been prolonged, yet all three contracts have been signed consecutively, meaning the cumulative duration of these contracts exceeds the seven-month period stipulated in the regulations."

The first of the three contracts in question ran from last summer to the beginning of this year with Transaviabaltika, the second from the end of January to the end of August with Diamond Sky, and the third also with Diamond Sky from the end of August to March of next year.

The Ministry of Regional Affairs and Agriculture concluded a public transport contract on the Tallinn-Kärdla flight route with the company Diamond Sky, which is intended serve the line until the end of March next year.

Howeve,r this contract was concluded on the basis of a public price offer, but lacked a bidding process and the seven-month requirement.

The Ministry of Regional Affairs had relied on a European regulation for the conclusion of the public service contract, which provides an exceptional basis for the conclusion of a contract without such a tender procedure. 

The Ministry of Finance notes that the right to operate an airline should, however, be granted through a public tender.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, : Barbara Oja

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