Saaremaa islanders extremely disappointed by change to air link procurement

Kuressaare Airport.
Kuressaare Airport. Source: ERR

Saaremaa Municipal Mayor Madis Kallas and several Saaremaa business-owners are extremely disappointed in the Road Administration after it unilaterally removed a condition from the air link procurement that islanders had deemed very important — the age of the aircraft.

In the course of lengthy preparations ahead of the procurement, Saaremaa Municipality was involved as a partner by the Road Administration in the drawing up of the terms of the air link procurement for flights that would connect Estonia's major western island of Saaremaa to the mainland via the capital of Kuressaare.

Island residents had three main conditions: a bigger plane, a plane not more than 20 years old, and changes to current flight times.

In the last week before the procurement was announced, however, in a move uncoordinated or agreed to by islanders, the Road Administration opted not to include the criteria regarding the age of the plane among procurement conditions.

The Road Administration cited legal reasons according to which the criteria in question could not be included in the conditions. Kallas and island business-owners don't buy it.

"To make a decision like that now, right at the end, essentially during the final week, that was not approved by the local community and Saaremaa Municipality — we are extremely disappointed in that regard," Kallas told ERR. He added that the municipality has not backed down from any of its conditions, as they want to see a developmental leap.

"And if we have to wait longer for it, then we are prepared to so," he continued. "But we don't want to do things halfway, or bring an inferior air link to Saaremaa in any way."

Entrepreneur and PRFoods management board chairman Indrek Kasela was even more critical.

"This claim now that age doesn't matter, especially coming from the Road Administration, sounds incompetent at best, but definitely also downright criminal," Kasela said. "As I said, in this case, the disappointment is so great that we should consider legal options to stop this process from going forward like this."

Saaremaa islanders, he stressed, will have to live with the results of this procurement for years. "Maybe this official has already left or been fired from their position by then, but the entire Republic of Estonia will have to deal with the consequences."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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