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Airlines jump in as Estonian Air stops flights

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Estonia also sets up replacement airline, with no planes
Airlines are launching new routes to and from Tallinn after state-owned Estonian Air ceased operations at the weekend. Estonia’s flag carrier made the announcement after European Union regulators ordered the country to take back €85 million given to it in state aid.
A three-year European Commission investigation found that financial assistance extended to the loss-making carrier had given it an unfair advantage. As previously reported, Estonian officials knew that such a ruling would automatically bankrupt the airline.
Estonian Air says that passengers with tickets to fly until November 11 will be transferred to other flights and the rest will have their tickets refunded.
SAS has jumped in to fly between Tallinn and Stockholm (four times a day), Oslo (one flight a day) and Copenhagen (three flights a day) from next week.
“Tallinn is a destination with a high proportion of frequent travellers and is also a popular holiday getaway. We therefore decided to act quickly, as Tallinn is a large and important destination in our region. Scandinavia also occupies a geographically advantageous location for shuttle services to and from Estonia,” commented Eivind Roald, executive vice president commercial at SAS.
The Latvian carrier airBaltic says it will operate flights to and from Tallinn in addition to those already in operation between Tallinn and Riga, Berlin, Paris and Vienna.
However, Estonia has already made preparations to set up a replacement airline for Estonian Air, named Nordic Aviation. It has contracted five airlines to operate eight routes, to Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo, Kiev, Trondheim and Vilnius.
As Nordic Aviation does not yet have its own resources, fleet, crew and flights are for now operated by BMI, Trade Air, NextJet and Carpatair, while Adria Airways provides the operator’s certificate, commercial platform and ticketing system.
But critics say the success of Nordic Aviation is unlikely due to Estonia’s unfavourable demographics, the cost of air travel for the local population and Tallinn’s location sandwiched between the two hubs of Helsinki and Riga.
Reuters / BBN

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