airBaltic strategy criticized in Estonia

  • 2010-03-17
  • From wire reports

TALLINN - Estonian Air deputy president in charge of commerce Rauno Parras noted that the company welcomes the intention of Latvian national airline airBaltic to step up the competition, but in the current context his Latvian counterpart is not having a good impact on the number of flight routes out of Tallinn, reports Aripaev Online. “The more aircraft bearing different colors take off from the Tallinn Airport, the better,” noted Parras.

“The multitude of destinations and service providers increases Estonia’s openness and is indeed necessary for the state’s transport and tourism policies,” he added, explaining that greater competition would benefit both customers as well as service providers. “At the same time, it is extremely important that the competition be fair and transparent,” emphasized Parras.
He noted that expansion to neighboring countries is an inevitable course of action for airlines in the current economic situation. “Estonian Air has also already taken steps in that direction, expanding its business to the Lithuanian market. Last month, in co-operation with one of the biggest airlines in the world, KLM, we launched flights on the route between Vilnius and Amsterdam,” Parras added.

He emphasized that Estonian Air is the only airline with the main focus on developing flight links from Estonia to elsewhere, whereas the main interest of the Latvian airline and of the Riga airport is to direct as many passengers as possible to fly via the Latvian capital. “Some airlines have increasingly opted for the strategy of luring customers from neighboring markets to fly to their desired destinations via the airline’s home base, at much lower prices than offered for direct flights from the said home base in order to increase the number of passengers,” remarked Parras.

Parras commented that while in the short-term perspective, airBaltic launching new routes from Tallinn would seem to be contrary to their long-term goal to multiply the number of air passengers via Riga, in the long-term perspective, there is already an example from Lithuania where the extra aggressive policy towards the competition, implemented by the Latvian airline, ended up in paralyzing Lithuania’s local flight connections to the rest of the world for several months.