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The final call for the national airline of Estonia, Estonian Air, may be the opportunity for a new Baltic carrier to be ready for take-off. The company is on the verge of bankruptcy and has asked the European Commission for state aid. Should the aid not be granted, it would have few options and could be the end of the 22 year old airline.

Former CEO Toomas Peterson suggests setting up an entirely new Estonian airline, stating that, “a horrible ending is better than endless horror.” His new model for business would involve the state owning a third of the airline, a core investor and strategic partner having another third, and the remainder being sold to Estonians as a public offering of shares.

But before Peterson’s idea can take flight, British airline Flybe may fly in to expand not only within the Estonian market, but within Latvia and Lithuania as well. Finnish business newspaper Kauppalehti wrote this week that the low-cost regional airline has been in talks with Estonian Air. airBaltic, the Latvian flag carrier, is rumoured to be under a similar situation which could create a situation where both the Estonian and Latvian state would be interested to sell a large stake in their national airlines.

As for Lithuania, it has not had a national airline since 2009 when FlyLAL suspended operations.

It seems that now is the perfect time for the Baltic region to set up its own carrier, with hubs in Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn. The model could be similar to that of Scandinavian Airlines which is the flag carrier of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Low-cost and frequent flights to the Baltic region would benefit business and international relations. Opening up air routes and being accessible is important to opening up global markets.

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Image courtesy: Tallinn Airport

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