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Estonia will secure direct flights with extra funds, route procurements

Passenger jet over Tallinn Airport.
Passenger jet over Tallinn Airport. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

National airline Nordica, which was tasked with ensuring important flight connections from Tallinn, will cease operations. The state will now allocate funding to the airport to keep fees low or procure routes instead.

Minister of Climate Kristen Michal (Reform) said, that by February at the latest, it should be clearer how much interest companies have in privatizing national airline Nordica. 

Instead of the national airline, the government will give €14.5 million to Tallinn Airport to ensure connections.

"So that the airport can keep charges competitive," Michal explained. "And that means that airlines will be more interested in flying from here. If those fees are more competitive, we will be able to have quality direct connections. That is the state's contribution so that we can have more and better connections."

While the number of routes from the airport is expanding every year, connections to key destinations such as Brussels, Munich, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen are lower than they have ever been, said aviation expert Sven Kukemelk.

If companies flying to important destinations lose their commercial interest in Tallinn, the country will have to start procuring direct flights.

Kukemelk said airports in Lithuania, Scandinavia, and Poland have already done this. "So maybe we need to be ready for it and the toolbox should be ready today," he said.

Michal believes there are two options available: "To put extra money into the airport to keep the charges that we are making today, and the other in this case is to organize route procurement."

Different countries retain direct connections in different ways.

"It could be a public company, it could be a foundation, but in this respect in Scandinavia business development units are very common, which would allow for the provision of essential connections for the business segment, either through different kinds of procurement or some kind of support measures," said Kukemelk.

But the government does not consider it necessary to create a separate enterprise or fund to organize air traffic in strategically important directions.

Michal said: "Of course, we don't need a separate state company to organize the procurement of routes. /.../ Tallinn Airport, yes, organizes the various connections from Tallinn and the procurement of the routes is of course already organized by the state if the state is the contracting authority."

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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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