Mr Tero Taskila – high flying goals for Estonian Air
According to Taskila, the overall goal of the company is to provide opportunities for economic growth in Estonia through better global access. Taskila and his crew have a clear vision and the ambition to get there.
What are the specifics of this new model?
The new business model is based on customer connectivity. It has changed the way operations are run at Tallinn airport. Before, we had flights scattered during the day, now the focus is on getting all the aircraft arriving in Tallinn at the same time and departing at similar times to optimize the connectivity. This has meant that all the suppliers have been refining their processes so they have adequate staffing during the peak hours.
The new model was launched in late March. What was the outcome?
The first eight weeks shows that we made the right choice with the business model. Customers appreciate the new flight options and this can be seen from our passenger growth. Passenger numbers nearly doubled in April and this growth has continued into May.
Does this also imply transit passengers?
What has been surprising is that the transfer passengers are growing much faster than expected.
What are the challenges?
There are operational challenges. The routines have to be adjusted to handle the new schedule and aircraft. During the winter we held a massive training program for pilots and technical personnel, to make the switch from 17 years of Boeing 737 qualification to Canadair 900 and Embraer 170.
What about safety issues?
As we do not compromise with safety issues, the pilots and ground personnel need more time for checks before the flight, mechanics need more time in troubleshooting on the new planes, but this is the only way we can get the routine in place.
Has everything been running according to routines and plans?
We are victims of our small size. Our profitability hinges on the efficiency of the aircraft. The new aircrafts are all well equipped to provide us that; but at the same time they are not immune. Since safety is our leading concern and we only have seven jets, you can quickly calculate that 15% of our capacity is grounded if one plane has to be over hauled unexpectedly.
How is Estonian Air’s on time performance?
All in all, we are performing on the level of the industry average, considering the statistical challenge of one delay causing more impact to smaller airlines than bigger. We are not pleased with the present situation. Every delay costs the business directly and indirectly which means inconveniences for passengers.
What actions have been taken to tackle delays and other issues connected with fast growth?
We have made some adjustments to the timetables to allow more time to catch up with delays. We have more frequent operations meetings with internal key players as well as sub-contractors, such as the airport, catering, border control, and air traffic control. In addition we have wet-leased one turbo propeller aircraft to support feeder traffic and at the same time have trained our pilots for the new aircraft type.
ESTONIAN AIR AT-A-GLANCE
Estonian Air, Estonia’s national carrier, is the biggest operator at Tallinn Airport.
* Estonian Air focuses on improving the connection between Estonia and the rest of the world, with the aim of increasing competitiveness as a network carrier hub.
* Estonian Air flies to 24 destinations in Western Europe, Scandinavia, and CIS. Recently the following destinations were added: Helsinki, Riga, Jyväskylä, Hannover, Vienna, Venice, Joensuu, Kajaani, and Tbilisi.
* In the first quarter of 2012, Estonian Air carried 224,826 passengers altogether, which is 33.3% more than during the
same period last year.
* The bulk of the fleet consists of fuel efficient and environmental friendly Embraer 170 and Canadair medium range aircraft.
TEXT: TOOMAS KÄBIN, PHOTOS: ESTONIAN AIR