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Airline aims to restart Tartu – Helsinki flights on March 31

Tartu Airport.
Tartu Airport. Source: Mana Kaasi

Finnair Oyj, the airline which submitted a bid in the public tender organized for servicing the Tartu – Helsinki route, wants to begin regular flights between the two cities from March 31, 2024.

For the performance of the public service obligation, Finnair expects to receive a total of €3,203,038 in compensation from the City of Tartu for regular scheduled flights until the end of 2027.

The amount of the compensation would be €640,607 (for three quarters) in 2024, and €854,143 per year for the period from 2025 to 2027.

Scheduled flights between Tartu and Helsinki are subject to agreement between the City of Tartu and Finnair Oyj, which is expected to take place at the end of this year. Finnair would use a 72-seat ATR aircraft belonging to subcontractor Nordic Regional Airlines OY (Norra) on the route.

According to Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas (Reform), the restoration of international air traffic is very important for the competitiveness of Tartu and South Estonia. "It was very important for us to get air traffic up and running for 2024, when Tartu will be the European Capital of Culture. We also consider it important that the proposed flight schedules are suitable for both tourists and business travelers," Klaas said.

The Tartu –  Helsinki route is subject to a public service obligation for a period of four years (until the end of 2027). During that period the route must be operated on the basis of a timetable that includes for 12 weekly flights from Tartu to Helsinki and back.

The aircraft used for flights must have at least 60 seats. Finnair Oyj was the only airline to submit a bid by the deadline in the public tender announced on September 29.

Following the termination of air services in 2022, the City of Tartu began analyzing the possible legal conditions for organizing and continuing to support flights from Tartu.

According to the city, it became clear from consultations with various air carriers that no airline was prepared to operate international flights from Tartu under current market conditions. As a result, to ensure the operation of international flight connections, it was possible to impose a public service obligation for the city on the most suitable international route, and subsidize flights from Tartu using funds from the City of Tartu budget.

Helsinki Airport was selected as the most suitable destination on the basis of a study carried out beforehand.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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