Chief financial officer latest Nordica casualty

Kristi Ojakäär.
Kristi Ojakäär. Source: Nordica

Chief financial officer and board member of state-owned airline Nordica Kristi Ojakäär has stepped down from her role. Ojakäär joined the airline in early 2019 and has cited fresh challenges outside the aviation sector as her motivation.

"I came to Nordica at a very stressful time, and my main task was to provide the best financial solution to support the change in the company's business," Ojakäär, whose final official day with the airline is Sept. 11, told BNS.

"I believe this goal has been met and, as Nordica is to stop flights from Tallinn at the end of October, the burden on my role will be significantly reduced. It is therefore a very opportune moment to take up this new challenge," she continued.

The troubled carrier has been cutting its international routes, and will cease to operate from Tallinn Airport altogether in October. Its net loss year-on-year to July 2018 stood at €5.4 million, even as revenue increased over the same period, to €107.7 million.

In May, the economic affairs ministry was deliberating the sale of its stake in the airline.

Its subsidiary Regional Jet, co-owned by Polish carrier LOT has, however, operated as a subcontractor for other commercial airlines, with 350 crew members based in Tallinn, Vilnius, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Warsaw and other northern European cities, and operated flights for SAS, Smartlynx and Airserbia this year, among other airlines.

Another bright spot was a four-year, €16.1 million deal Nordica struck to operate a domestic air route in Sweden earlier in the year.

In June, Nordica signed a new cooperation agreement with LOT , further reducing the company's involvement in the airline business as a the whole, leaving ticket sales and customer services to LOT. This means that Nordica is applying its wet lease business model to the domestic market as well, leaving the entire commercial risk of its operations to other airline.

Ojakäär told BNS her new job was to be announced later on.

Incoming CEO Gunnar Kobin, appointed in June, stepped down from the post before even taking it up, in early August. The news was leaked to the media on Tuesday, ahead of Nordica's own announcement.

Kobin has been replaced by Erki Urva, who said that Kristi Ojakäär's work at the company had been stressful, but nevertheless had laid the groundwork for a new direction.

"I want to thank Kristi for her strong commitment to running the company and wish her all the best for the future," Urva said.

The suspension of flights from Tallinn is a big step for the company, Urva said, which would require organizational restructuring, and that Ojakäär's replacement had not yet been found.

"As of now it is too early to say if and what skills we need for the finance department or the management board. There are several options on the table to choose from, but I want some time to make a decision. Above all, we need to create a longer-term view for the company in the new situation," Urva said.

Founded in 2015, and effectively replacing the now-defunct Estonian Air, Nordica cooperates with LOT), with a 51 percent stake via its Regional Jet subsidiary to LOT's 49 percent. Other partners in Europe include Air Serbia, Flybe and various contract partners in Europe. Regional Jet operates 19 aircraft and employees over 500 aviation specialists in Estonia and abroad, the company says.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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