Lithuanian carrier Transaviabaltika, which began operating subsidized air service connecting Tallinn with the largest two Western Estonian islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa last June, carried a total of 21,539 passengers in its first year of operation.
Of this total, the Lithuanian airline carried 13,242 passengers on the Tallinn-Kuressaare, Saaremaa route and 8,297 passengers on the Tallinn-Kärdla, Hiiumaa route.
Airline representative Rene Must said that the first year of operation went as planned. "There were no big surprises; we were well-prepared to service the large islands and this despite the fat that the contract with county governments was signed only one day before we began flying," he said in a press release.
The average load factor of the carrier's aircraft on the Saaremaa route was 58 percent, while the average load factor was approximately 37 percent on the Hiiumaa route. This May, a total of 1,359 passengers traveled on the Saaremaa route, while 807 passengers traveled on the Hiiumaa route.
The biggest concern for Transviabaltika has been the Hiiumaa route due to Kärdla Airport lacking an instrument landing system (ILS). Must said that compared to Kuressaare Airport, Kärdla has been issued significantly stricter weather-related minimum requirements for the landing of planes. This circumstance was also the reason behind multiple cancellations of Transviabaltika flights during the winter months.
Must said that one important work victory was the updating of the online ticketing system on the company's website, the result of which is that as of April of this year, it has been possible to use credit cards via bank links as well when paying for tickets.
This year also saw an update to the appearance of the plane servicing the two large islands. "This month we carried out a design update to our Jetstream 32 plane, which resulted in a completely new design on the aircraft's tail," Must said.
Lithuanian carrier Transaviabaltika submitted the winning tender in a procurement announced by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications last year for the operation of subsidized flights between the Estonian mainland and the capitals of its two largest Western islands. Transaviabaltika's contract was signed through May 31, 2019.
Editor: Aili Vahtla