Latvian carrier challenges Estonian rival as it continues its expansion in neighbouring markets.
The Riga-based airline airBaltic will launch new direct flights between the Estonian capital Tallinn and both Stockholm and Oslo while basing a second aircraft at TLL from October 28.
The new routes are likely to build on the more than 360,000 passengers it carried to and from Estonia in 2017, up 20% on the previous year. That growth is in line with airBaltic’s overall growth of 22% more pax in 2017, to over 3.5 million.
The airline’s growth in Tallinn is a direct challenge to Estonia’s national carrier Nordica, which carried 613,000 passengers in 2017, a rise of more than 60% on the previous year.
Nordica, which increased its fleet by 10 aircraft during the year to a total of 16, also flies to Stockholm and Oslo and, starting this coming spring, to Copenhagen.
Besides its 56 routes from Riga, airBaltic currently flies from Tallinn to Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Riga, Vienna and Vilnius. That is almost a mirror image of the destinations it offers from Vilnius, Lithuania, namely to Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Paris, Riga and Tallinn.
It will also launch a new direct service from Tallinn to London Gatwick on March 27.
“By offering a mix of 9 direct services from Tallinn and convenient connections via Riga, airBaltic will offer the best connectivity to and from the Estonian capital,” says Martin Gauss, chief executive.
“The increased number of direct services and a decision to base a Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft in Tallinn shows our strong commitment to the Estonian market.”
airBaltic will fly between Tallinn and Stockholm 12 times weekly with a scheduled flight time of 55 minutes. The flights to Oslo will be made twice a week with a flight time of 1 hour and 45 minutes.
From Riga, so far the airline has announced new routes for the summer season to Malaga, Lisbon, Split, Bordeaux, Almaty, Gdansk and both Sochi and Kaliningrad in Russia.
Nordica, meanwhile, pledges to “end its second financial year in the black”. It will start flights to Copenhagen on April 27, and there will be two new summer-season routes from Tallinn to Ohrid in Macedonia and Constanta in Romania.