At 13:10 today, 5 May 2022, the newly renovated Pärnu Airport will once again welcome international air traffic when a flight from Vantaa Airport in Helsinki touches down in Estonia’s summer capital after 40 minutes in the air.
Among the passengers will be seven Finnish travel agents and three journalists, who will be spending the next couple of days familiarising themselves with the tourism companies operating in Pärnu.
Flights on the Pärnu-Helsinki route will be operated on Thursdays and Sundays from 5 May-21 August by the Estonian-owned NyxAir.
Preparations to re-open international air traffic at Pärnu Airport started eight years ago when the city government, together with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and AS Tallinna Lennujaam, set itself the goal of renewing the airport’s runway, terminal and related infrastructure.
Reconstruction work was completed in late 2021, resulting in a runway that now extends to 1970 x 30 metres, expanded taxiways, renovated apron areas, an automated weather monitoring system, renewed lighting for the airfield and a brand new hangar for maintenance and rescue equipment. The passenger terminal has also been updated and is now capable of serving 80 incoming and 80 outgoing passengers simultaneously.
The first flights on the reconstructed runway took place last October when air traffic was restored between Pärnu and Ruhnu. Starting from 5 May, the airport will also be open to international flights.
In addition to the flights between Pärnu and Helsinki, another route is set to operate at the airport this summer: Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), the biggest carrier in Northern Europe, will be launching flights between the Swedish capital and the Estonian resort on 25 June. The route will be served by 70-seat ATR-72s every Tuesday and Saturday until 16 August, with flights departing from and landing at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm. The flight time will be 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Riivo Tuvike, the chairman of the management board of Tallinn Airport, says the routes that will be serving Pärnu this summer are proof that anything is possible when people work together. “The reconstructed air traffic area that opened last autumn was the first step in making Pärnu and its surroundings more attractive as a destination, and I’m really pleased that the combined efforts of the city and local business operators will see not one, but two international routes serving Pärnu this summer,” he said. “Regional airports are a very important part of local life, since they create jobs and opportunities for the development of the business environment, as well as connecting a place to the rest of the world.”
Mayor Romek Kosenkranius says that tourism companies in Pärnu have been waiting for almost a decade for the city’s flight connections to Helsinki to be restored, so it is all the more remarkable that flights will now also be operating between Pärnu and Stockholm. “Our thanks go out to everyone who made it possible for Pärnu to open up again to international air traffic,” he said. “I wish everyone safe and happy travels between our city and our neighbouring Nordic capitals!”
Andrus Aljas, the director of Estonia Spa Hotels, says the main objective of tourism companies in Pärnu County has now been met: international flights will once again be landing at Pärnu Airport. “The other aim we all have is to help popularise those flights among our Finnish and Swedish clients and thus boost tourist numbers in Pärnu,” he said. “The beach with the warmest water anywhere in the Baltic Sea is no more than an hour’s flight from Helsinki and Stockholm, after all, and the city has a lot of high-quality hotels and recreational facilities to offer.”
Bus no. 24 will ferry passengers between the airport and the city centre, with the schedule timed to coincide with flights. It will stop at the biggest spas and hotels along the route.
The annual cost of operating Pärnu Airport is close to one million euros. Pärnu City Government provides 400,000 euros in support of the airport each year.