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Airport official: In terms of airports, Tallinn largely on periphery

The passenger terminal at Tallinn Airport.
The passenger terminal at Tallinn Airport. Source: Sander Koit/ERR

Nearly one third of direct flights departing from Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport are seasonal flights, marking the highest share thereof among the three Baltic capitals' airports. Tallinn has likewise fallen into third place, behind Riga and Vilnius, in terms of total number of direct flights.

Tallinn offers direct flights to 41 international destinations, 13 of which are seasonal routes. In comparison, Riga International Airport, the largest airport in the Baltics, offers travellers year-round direct connections to 74 destinations as well as seasonal flights to 25 additional destinations, the latter of which account for just a quarter of all flights.

Vilnius Airport serves 50 destinations directly, just four, or 8%, of which are seasonal routes.

Tallinn Airport spokesperson Margot Holts told ERR that an airport's strategy in deciding flights depends in large part on the location of the airport, adding that in terms of airports, Tallinn is in large part on the periphery.

Seasonal flights, she noted, depend on when locals tend to travel abroad and when tourists tend to arrive in Estonia.

"Many flights which start off as seasonal flights often end up permanent," Holts said, highlighting Ryanair's Tallinn-Malta route, which began as a seasonal route and ended up a year-round one.

Destinations are ultimately chosen by the airlines themselves, however according to Holts, the airport itself in conjunction with Enterprise Estonia can make suggestions to the airlines regarding potential destinations.

Taivo Linnamägi, head of the Aviation and Maritime Department at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, told ERR that seasonal direct flights give a boost to both the local and the destination economies.

Nonetheless, he found that there is a need for new year-round direct flights as well. "It is not just tourists that are travelling, but also business customers as well," he noted, adding that direct connections with other European capitals was especially important.

According to Linnamägi, what would attract more direct flights to Estonia is marketing on the part of airports and the state appealing to airlines.

Estonian state-owned airline Nordica operates nearly two thirds of Tallinn's direct international flights, a quarter of which are seasonal routes.

Nordica communications director Toomas Uibo told ERR that seasonal destinations are selected based on where people tend to holiday during the summer. He noted that this summer's new destinations have been well-received and that the airline constantly has new plans and ideas, but that there are no plans at this time to make any of its seasonal routes permanent.

The most recent permanent connection to be added was a Tallinn-Copenhagen route.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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