Low-cost airlines bring 350 000 visitors to Estonia

Low-cost airlines are estimated to bring 350 000 additional visitors to the Estonian capital Tallinn during 2011, board chairman of the state-owned company AS Tallinna Lennujaam (Tallinn Airport) Erik Sakkov said.

Speaking at a transport and tourism conference held at the airport’s facilities, Sakkov said the number of passengers that low-cost airlines served since the beginning of the year reached 150 000 on Wednesday. The current forecast by the airport company says the number of passengers served by the airport will grow by one million over the next three or four years.

A survey conducted by the airport among Ryanair passengers shows that 43% of the passengers of Ryanair here are incoming tourists, 38% Estonian residents flying out, 15% residents of Russia using the opportunity to travel via Tallinn using Ryanair, while the remaining 4% include residents of Finland and Latvia.

As Sakkov said, the airport of Tallinn has started to approach the balanced model of operation where one-third of the passenger volume is made up of passengers of the national airline, one-third by passengers using low-cost airlines, and the rest of passengers using the services of other airlines taking passengers to bigger airports.

Co-operation with airline companies from Asia and particularly the Far East may help solve the problem of shortage of passengers, Sakkov said. Helsinki and Tallinn are the two European Union airports situated closest to the Far East and Finnair has been using that geographical advantage for some time already, he said.

Flights headed from India and the Gulf region to New York and Washington pass over Estonia and there is the possibility that some of these flights will be landing in Tallinn, offering co-operation opportunities for Estonian Air and the opportunity for people here to board a direct flight to New York.

Source: Estonian Review

Estonia and Norway sign financial agreement

Today in Oslo Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre signed memorandums for the implementation of the financial mechanisms of the European Economic Area and Norway with Estonia. Estonia will receive a total of 44.9 million euros of support from the European Economic Area and Norway by 2014.

Paet stated that the sum will be used to finance environmental, social, and cultural projects. Both of the financial mechanisms were created as part of the European Economic Area Enlargement Agreement in 2004. In accordance with that agreement, the three non-members of the European Union Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein are to support 15 European Union member states on the principle of solidarity. Norway provides over 95% of the funds.

At the signing of the agreements, Foreign Minister Paet said that ever since Estonia’s accession to the European Union, co-operation with Norway in implementing the financial mechanism that supports various projects has been very good. “During the last five-year period from 2004 to 2009, Norway mainly financed projects in the environmental, cultural heritage, health care, and regional policy sectors,” Paet noted. “The biggest projects were renovating the infectious disease centre of West Tallinn Central Hospital with Norway’s support and creating a project to renovate schools located in old manor houses. An SOS Children’s Village was also established in Põltsamaa,” he added.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre confirmed that the results from the first period are very good. The financial mechanisms have been greeted with enthusiasm and inspired a great deal of activity among Norwegian partners. In addition, political dialogue and co-operation between Estonia and Norway have grown even stronger, said Støre.

During the second period of the programme from 2009-2014 many different sectors in Estonia will receive support. For example, health care projects will receive 8.9 million euros and projects geared towards high-risk children and youths will get 6.5 million euros in support. The financial mechanisms focus on environmental issues and green innovation. Other areas that will receive support are cultural heritage, civil society, the education and research sector, and gender equality projects. There is also an emphasis on promoting co-operation between Estonia and donor countries.

Additional information is available at www.eeagrants.org

Photo from the signing: http://www.flickr.com/photos/estonian-foreign-ministry

Source: Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Panoramas of Tallinn Old Town