Finnair CEO forecasts gloom for Estonian Air13.09.2012, 12:59
“We carry more people on a single Finnair route than Estonian Air on all its routes combined. And we ourselves are small players in Europe,” said Mika Vehviläinen, President and CEO of Finnair during his visit to Tallinn this week, writes Eesti Ekspress.
Speaking of Estonian Air’s future, Vehviläinen said that the carrier was going through a tough time, like other regional airlines in Scandinavian and Baltic countries.
He believes that the European civil aviation market is going to consolidate, much the same like the telecom industry in recent decades.
In order words, smaller and weaker airlines like Estonian Air and airBaltic will either disappear or merge with bigger airlines like Flybe who will take over the profitable routes.
“In recent months we have seen several regional airlines go bust. Cimber Sterling in Denmark, Malmö Aviation and City Airline in Sweden – all of them are bankrupt. I don’t know who is next, but many are struggling,” he added.
According to him, domestic flights in Europe have become as normal as a bus ride, but customers are extremely price-sensitive.
“Searching for cheap tickets has become something of a sport, but passengers do not take into account that services offered in airports are expensive.”
Vehviläinen says that all European domestic flights will soon become budget routes where airlines ask a fee for additional services.
He was also sceptical of Estonian Air’s hopes to become a hub for Asian traffic simply because the Estonian market is too small and questioned the feasibility of a possible merger between Estonian Air and airBaltic.