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24.02.12 - 01.03.12

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Estonian Air to begin service to Tbilisi

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With the goal of making Tallinn a regional hub, Estonian Airline officials have decided to add new routes to Finland and one to Georgia. The service from Tallinn to Tbilisi will begin this spring and is scheduled for April 9, 2012.

Estonian Air will offer safe and comfortable flights four-times per week and the flights will take place on CRJ type aircraft. Ticket prices start at 185 EUR.

Management at Estonian Air hopes the new service will attract a variety of travelers and increase their share of transfer passengers on the market. Currently, Georgian passengers may only reach Estonia using a transit route though third country airports.

“The Estonian market is limited, so we felt the need to expand its market size,” said Tero Taskila, CEO at Estonian Air.

Estonia Air is the national carrier, and is based in Tallinn. It is a regional airline that feeds into the Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) network. Officials from Estonian Air hope the decision will encourage more passengers to use the Estonian Air network and Tallinn International Airport as a transfer.

With a fleet of 6 modern aircraft, Estonian Air offers direct flights from the Estonian capital of Tallinn to destinations throughout Europe, including: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Copenhagen, Hannover, Helsinki, Nice, Oslo, Kiev, London, Milan and Vienna.

The company was set up as a state-owned public limited company in 1991 immediately after the country gained independence. The owners of Estonian Air are the Estonian state (90%) and the SAS Group (10%).

Tbilisi International Airport will also host Alitalia, Italy’s largest airline company. According to the operating company TAV Georgia, 2012 has proven successful so far, as the five-star Qatar Airways began a service to Tbilisi in February.

In a bid to boost tourism inside Georgia and position the country to be an economic hub for international businesses, the Georgian government has been working hard to add Tbilisi as a destination for several low-cost airlines.

Last summer, for instance, China Southern Airlines started direct flights to Georgia, while Flydubai, Dubai’s low-cost carrier started direct flights to Tbilisi in the fall of 2011. Turkey’s Pegasus and Poland’s Lot, two other low-cost carriers, have also been operating on the Georgian aviation market since 2010.

While visiting Hungary in mid-February of this year, Georgian Prime Minister, Nika Gilauri, said that negotiations with Wizz Air, another low-cost carrier is currently underway.

By Ia Natsvilishvili

23.02.2012

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