In December, 235 thousand passengers travelled through Tallinn Airport, being nearly 6% more than during the last month of the previous year. By the end of 2019, the airport had provided its services to 3.26 million passengers, with the number having increased altogether 9%, or, by more than 260 thousand passengers compared to 2018.
According to Riivo Tuvike, the Chairman of the Management Board at Tallinn Airport, the number of both, tourists as well as business travellers passing the airport has increased. “Reaching the 3.26 million mark was supported by new routes opened in 2019; yet, the main driver was the demand of passengers and last year also demonstrated very good occupancy rates on many routes. Our network of routes and increased frequency together with main hubs provide a larger range of destinations to those travelling from Estonia, bringing also more tourists and business travellers here,” Tuvike said.
Despite the changes in the flight plans of several airlines, the demand stayed stably on a high level, supporting thereby the more than 9% growth in passenger numbers and the increase of average occupancy of regular flights to 75% (compared to 70% last year). The number of passengers increased for all airlines except Nordica, who changed its business strategy and stopped the operations of regular flights in Tallinn. AirBaltic became the largest carrier, serving 21% of all travellers, followed by Nordica with a 14%market share and Ryanair with 10%. In May 2019, the list of carriers expanded on the account of Belorussian airline Belava. Regular flights were operated by altogether 16 airlines. The biggest upsurge in development was made by Wizzair, who added flights to its Kiev route and started to fly to the Kutaisi airport in Georgia, multiplying thus its passenger figures with just one year.
In addition to the new flights of Belavia to Minsk and the connection of Wizzair to Kutaisi, AirBaltic opened a new route to Malaga on the southern coast of Spain and seasonal flights to Austria, Salzburg in 2019. Lufthansa resumed its flights to Munich. There were regular flights to altogether 36 destinations, including 28 all-the-year-round destinations. Furthermore, in case of charter flights it was possible to choose from more than 40 holiday destinations, most popular of which were Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria in summer season, and in winter, mainly the holiday resorts in Egypt and the Canary Islands.
Eero Pärgmäe, the Commercial Director of Tallinn Airport, is confident that the number of passengers will continue to grow rapidly also in 2020. “This year we can expect an expansion in travelling possibilities starting from the end of March, when AirBaltic starts direct flights to Rome, Zurich, Hamburg and Nice. Austrian low-fare airline Lauda will start flying from Vienna, and we are working on adding even more destinations,” Pärgmäe said. Frequency is to be increased on several existing routes as well, which in case of continued favourable economic environment will guarantee growth also this year.
The passenger terminal of Tallinn Airport was built to serve 2.6 million travellers and has already reached the capacity limit. The vision of the airport for the year 2035 foresees expansion of the passenger terminal to serve up to 6 million passengers. Riivo Tuvike admits that during summer months with large amounts of passenger traffic, one can feel the need for a bigger terminal. “Despite the restricted space, we have nevertheless managed well thanks to a professional team,” Tuvike said, but added that the first extension plans are already in progress: “The bottlenecks in infrastructure must not get in the way of the growth potential of the airport and the number of passengers. At the moment, the extensions of the pre-waiting areas and baggage handling areas are already in the design stage. Soon we will start with designing the first extension stage of the passenger terminal, which should be built in 2020–2022, as a result of which the capacity of the airport and service quality will improve significantly,” Tuvike added.
The number of passengers increased also in all regional airports, reaching a total of 67,070 passengers. In 2019, Tartu airport was used by 28,322 passengers (8.5% growth compared to 2018), Kuressaare airport by 24,614 passengers (6.3% growth), Kärdla airport by 11,684 passengers (17.5% growth) and Pärnu airport by 1009 passengers (9.7% growth). The services of Ruhnu airport were used by 1446 passengers during the year and two passengers passed Kihnu airport.