Jaan Tamm steps down as Nordica chairman

Jaan Tamm
Jaan Tamm Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Jaan Tamm, Chairman of the Management Board of Estonian airline Nordica, has resigned. Mr Tamm, who has been head of the management board since Nordica's estbalisment in 2015, submitted his resignation to the Nordica supervisory board today, Thursday, and it was duly accepted.

According to a press release from Nordica, Peeter Tohver, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Nordica (Nordic Aviation Group AS, or NAG), says he places an enormous value on the work Tamm has done at the company.

"Launching any business is difficult, but Jaan and his team have managed to establish a viable and competitive airline and meet all of the goals they set themselves," said Mr. Tohver.

"At the same time, I understand and accept the decision he's made," he went on.

Growth of Nordica

In the less than three years of its existence the airline has grown to operate a fleet of 18 aircraft and employs almost 450 aviation specialists in Estonia and other countries in Europe.

Over the course of that time 21 direct routes have been launched from Tallinn Airport, making Nordica far and away the biggest carrier operating out of the Estonian capital.

The airline also provides flight operation services to foreign partners as an additional revenue stream. A reported total of 613,000 passengers flew with Nordica in 2017, and with contracted flights added, that figure rises to more than a million.

As previously reported on ERR, the company ended the 2017 financial year with a profit of almost €900,000 – a much better result than expected.

Every silver lining has some clouds

However the company has not always seen clear blue skies since its inception. Problems which have either dogged it or raised concerns can be broken into two broad areas: Staff problems and potential conflicts of interest in the way the company operates.

With regard to the first category, early on the company, seen as the successor to the defunct Estonian Air, had difficulty in attracting pilots, due to reported concerns about pay levels and working conditions. Subsequently, former employees of Estonian Air who then went to NAG filed a claim in court against the new national airline, aiming to get more than €1.7 million worth of redundancy payments, but this was overruled.

In the second category, there have been potential conflicts of interest between NAG and two related entities and their personnel . Whereas Estonian Air was a single, monolithic state-owned entity, NAG runs a reported three areas of business — aircraft ownership, aircraft operation and commercial operations — under as many separate companies in addition to NAG there is Nordic Crew Management (NCM) and the Nordic Aviation Academy (NAA), and these entities and their management have sometimes overlapped.

Additionally, a Nordica flight was cancelled in early June this year, due to a signal from a smoke detector, which may have been triggered by engine washing chemicals

Jaan Tamm's opinion

 For his part Mr. Tamm says that Stage 1 of the airline's development is now complete.

"The state charged us with the task of getting the airline off the ground, offering direct flights from Tallinn to destinations that are important to people in Estonia and laying the ground work for the sustainability of the company," he explained.

"To my mind we've achieved all of that, as well as the majority of the tasks we set ourselves in the business plan when we set up the company. Three incredibly intense years are behind us and I'd like to thank the entire Nordica team – our pilots, our cabin crew and our office staff – for their collective efforts and achievements,'' he went on.

''Having said all that, I also feel it's the right time for the company to be setting itself new goals under a new manager,'' he concluded.

Peeter Tohver has already announced that Tamm's duties will be taken on by current Supervisory Board member Hannes Saarpuu, a former director of coach line Lux Ekspress as well an experienced player in the aviation field, on a temporary basis until a full time replacement is found.

The Supervisory Board of Nordic Aviation Group AS will continue with three members and the other member of the Management Board, Ahto Pärl, as the company's Head of Finance.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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