Latvian prime minister pushes for pan-Baltic tie-up
Estonia and Latvia should merge their national flag carriers, according to Latvia’s prime minister, Valdis Dombrovskis, and the transport minister, Aivis Ronis. This pan-Baltic Estonian Air/airBaltic airline could have its base in Riga, the region’s geographically most central city and most developed airport, further evolving its status as a central Baltic hub. “We are open to the idea of creating a pan-Baltic airline”, Dombrovskis said, “but no one has discussed this plan seriously yet.”
Estonia’s economy minister, Juhan Parts, commented: “This is something that the airlines’ boards and supervisory councils could do. If their analysis shows that a merger would be feasible, the shareholders’ should consider it.”
However, airBaltic President Martin Gauss argues that an SAS-style carrier for the Baltics would not be a good idea. Instead, Estonian Air and airBaltic should share codes, he thinks. As reported, the Latvian carrier is currently searching for a strategic investor. Talks are underway, but no potential investors’ names have been made public. They are believed to include companies from the Middle East, China and Turkey. None are European.
In related news, a recent decision by Ryanair to slash its number of winter-season destinations from Tallinn from 10 to just three has forced Tallinn Airport to halt its plans to build a new passenger terminal for low-cost airlines by the end of 2013.
[pictured: Bombardier Q400 NextGen; courtesy airBaltic]