airBaltic to cancel most direct departures from Tallinn17.09.2010, 11:00
Tallinn-Stockholm line is only one of several routes that Latvian carrier airBaltic is going to cancel in the near future. The airline will stop flying from Tallinn to Stockholm at the beginning of November, end the Tallinn-Lappeenranta line from October 1 and Tallinn-Turku/Oulu line from the beginning of November.
The news is a bad surprise for Tallinn Airport. "I am surprised since these lines were opened only recently with a major PR campaign," says Rein Loik, chairman of Tallinn Airport. He adds that airBaltic seems to be returning to its original policy of having Riga as its main hub. Loik added that he was even more surprised since these lines were not doing badly in his opinion.
According to aripaev.ee, the airline is also axing several flights departing from Vilnius and Riga. During the year, the airline has cancelled its Vilnius departures to Munich, Oslo and Amsterdam.
Andrus Aljas, president of Estonian Air, said in comment that when Estonian Air together with KLM started to compete with airBaltic on Vilnius-Amsterdam route, the latter stopped the line in a few months.
Aljas added that he was equally surprised of the decision to cancel the Tallinn-Stockholm line as Estonian Air is flying there three times a day with large Boeing aircraft and is satisfied. "It seems now that these millions of Scandinavian passengers that they promised to serve have not chosen airBaltic," he said.
Among flights that are departing from Tallinn, airBaltic will reduce traffic frequency on the Tallinn-Riga line from 7 times a day to 5 from October and end the Tallinn-Vilnius flights from November.
Route cancellations have already brought bad publicity for the Latvian carrier. Namely, the airline is under fire from Estonians who, for instance, bought tickets for Tallinn-Stockholm line in the recent airBaltic sales campaign in Estonia during which the airline offered a million tickets that can be used until March 26, 2011. In response to the angry outburst of buyers, airBaltic announced that the tickets for the Tallinn-Stockholm line were offered by mistake because of a system error.
Commenting the campaign, the airline's vice president Janis Vanags said that airBaltic used it for assessing the viability of certain routes and tested the market for the winter season.
The eight-months market share of airBaltic in Tallinn Airport is estimated to be 13.6% which is 0.6% more than last year. Riga's share was 12.6% or 1.4% less than last year.