Airline ex-executive: Four, five companies interested in Nordica

Nordica jet taxiiing on the tarmac at Tallinn Airport.
Nordica jet taxiiing on the tarmac at Tallinn Airport. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Estonian state should make it clear it intends to sell Nordica, not talk about a possible bankruptcy, said aviation expert and former Nordica executive Sven Kukemelk on ETV's "Terevisioon" Monday morning, adding that four or five companies are currently eyeing the state-owned airline.

"To expect that they'll break even again by the end of the year – it's still pretty unrealistic; Nordica would need to play the lottery," said Kukemelk, who had served as the airline's executive director of business development as well as CEO of subsidiary Regional Jet prior to his resignation in 2018.

According to Kukemelk, what's important right now is that the company doesn't continue to accumulate losses.

"In aviation we talk about how the second and third quarter are those where it's possible to earn money, and the first and fourth are the hardest," he explained. "In other words, we're currently at the point where it's necessary to invest over the next two quarters in order to achieve a profitable second and third quarter."

The airline currently lacks the ability to invest, however, and Kukemelk believes there's also no reason why the state should be interested in pouring additional money into the airline.

Nonetheless, the Estonian state should be making it clear right now that it intends to sell Nordica, not talk about a possible bankruptcy or liquidation, he continued.

"We're currently in a situation where Nordica employs more than 400 people," the expert highlighted. "We talk in Estonia about how we want high value-added jobs. Talking about captains' wages, those are gross monthly wages in the €6,000-8,000 range. If we could manage to sell the company on condition that the main office remain here for the next ten years, then that is significant value added that the state would see."

According to Kukemelk, four or five companies have shown interest in buying Nordica.

"Above all it's a matter of on what conditions and how," he explained. "Major disadvantages facing Nordica are the fact that Nordica received support from the state during the [COVID-19 pandemic], and should the state start expecting this money to be repaid, then it's hard to see that value today. Another question is how long this game will last. In a situation where Nordica has to attempt to sell out its aircraft for next summer, then in a situation where the owner admits that they can't rule out bankruptcy – nobody would dare buy."

The state should change its tune talking about Nordica, and announce that it's selling the company and wants to save these jobs," Kukemelk recommended. "And not start focusing on whether bankruptcy or liquidation – there's definitely an interested party here, and that should be the message."

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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