Estonian flag carrier Nordic Aviation Group, operating under the Nordica brand, served over 2.2 million passengers in 2018, 2.5 times more than the number of passengers served by Estonia's previous state-owned airline during its most successful years, the airline announced on Tuesday. Nordica subsidiary Regional Jet is forecasting continued growth this year as well.
Regional Jet experienced strong growth last year in terms of aviation services and passenger figures, according to a Nordica press release. The company provides aviation services to Northern Europe's largest airline, SAS, LOT Polish Airlines, and its own parent airline Nordica. The increase in passenger numbers is attributable primarily to closer cooperation with SAS.
Regional Jet board chairman Jan Palmer said he is content with how the company is developing.
"In 2016, we began providing aviation operations to our parent Nordica, who was also our first customer, with one plane," he recalled. "Now, 36 months later, we have four to five major cooperation partners, we operate 19 planes, and transport over two million passengers each year. That's a noteworthy achievement for Estonian aviation, and we plan to continue climbing this year. I'm pleased to say that Estonia is sharing in the growth of the aviation sector."
"We launched our first cooperation project in Denmark in 2017, where Regional Jet's four ATR72-600 type planes entered use," SAS Vice President for External Production Mikael Wångdahl said. "That was a very big challenge for SAS and Regional Jet, but thanks to great cooperation, we have developed a good, reliable product for passengers, and I'm very pleased with the developments."
Airline seeing growth outside Estonia
Nordica CEO Hannes Sarapuu previously said that the closure of non-profitable routes from Tallinn would be compensated by the growth of export services on foreign markets.
"Our subsidiary Regional Jet has done a great job, and there is reason to be satisfied today with Nordica, both for its on-time record and its regularity of service," Sarapuu said. "This year has begun at a completely new level of quality. This Estonian airline is now becoming a medium-sized European carrier, as Nordica's growth is certain to continue this year in terms of fleet size and passenger numbers."
Regional Jet OÜ currently operates 12 CRJ type and seven ATR72 type aircraft, with its main markets located in Scandinavia, Estonia and Central Europe. Nordica employs more than 500 people in Estonia and other countries. Routes from Tallinn are served by five aircraft, while another 14 aircraft operate routes outside of Estonia. SAS has become its largest customer, and there are plans to further increase routes outside of Estonia this year.
Editor: Aili Vahtla