Estonian Air
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded1991 (1991)[1]
Ceased operations8 November 2015[2]
HubsTallinn Airport
Frequent-flyer programEuroBonus
  • AS Estonian Air Regional
  • Estonian Aviation Fuelling Services
  • Estonian Air Jet Leasing
  • AS Amadeus Eesti
Parent company
HeadquartersLennujaama tee 13, 11101
Tallinn, Estonia
Key peopleJan Palmér, CEO
RevenueDecrease €69.9 million (2014)
ProfitDecrease €−10.4 million (2014)

Estonian Air was the flag carrier airline of Estonia between 1991 and 2015. Headquartered in Tallinn it operated scheduled services from Tallinn Airport. Prior to its closure, the airline flew from Tallinn to 11 destinations in Europe.

From 1991 to 1996 and since 2010 Estonian Air was owned by the Estonian government. In 2010 the Estonian government had purchased the company back from SAS Group to ensure it did not go bankrupt.[3] On 7 November 2015 the European Commission ruled that the government funding given to the company had been in breach of the European Union regulations and must be paid back. Estonian Air, not having such funds, ceased all its operations the next day and immediately entered the process of liquidation.[3] A new state-owned airline, Nordica, entered operations the same day.


A former Estonian Air Yakovlev Yak-40 in 1994
A former Estonian Air Yakovlev Yak-40 in 1994
A former Estonian Air Fokker 50 in 2002
A former Estonian Air Fokker 50 in 2002

Early years

The airline was established by the Estonian government with aircraft acquired from the defunct local Aeroflot Division.[4]

In 1992, the airline became a member of IATA and the first Boeing 737-500 was delivered in 1995. The company was partially privatised in 1996 with 66% of shares to Maersk Air (49%) and Cresco investment bank (17%).[5] The company leased two Boeing 737-500s to replace its old Soviet planes, and in 1996, after obtaining two more Fokker 50s, it was able to retire the Soviet fleet entirely.

In 2003, Maersk Air sold its shares to SAS and the Fokker 50s were retired. By 2004 the airline had carried its 500,000th passenger.

Estonian Air pilots in 2007
Estonian Air pilots in 2007

In March 2007, Estonian Air announced that they will lease another Boeing 737-500 and serve a new destination, Vienna. Estonian Air has leased two Saab 340s and in June 2008 Estonian Air established a new company, Estonian Air Regional. Under that name, it added new destinations from Tallinn to Kuressaare, Stockholm, Helsinki and Vilnius. Later on to Saint Petersburg and to Minsk.

In 2008, three new destinations (Minsk, Munich and Rome) were served and the company announced that it was ordering three Bombardier CRJ900 NG and further 3 options. On 27 November 2008, Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip announced that SAS had approached the Estonian government, urgently requesting a cash injection to save the airline and offering to buy out the government's stake in the airline. The Estonian government is reportedly in negotiations with ferry company Tallink to come up with a counter-proposal.[6]

In 2009, Estonian Air gave up its Vienna, Frankfurt and Simferopol routes. The company closed its ground handling division. New destinations from Tallinn were Amsterdam, Berlin and St Peterburg, new route was Tartu–Stockholm.

Development since 2010

In 2010, Estonian Air started cooperation with KLM, announcing the new Tallinn–Vilnius–Amsterdam route (starting from 12 February 2010).[7]

A former Estonian Air Boeing 737-300 in 2011
A former Estonian Air Boeing 737-300 in 2011

Estonian Air started operating flights to Trondheim 5 September 2011, with 5 weekly flights.[8] In November 2011, Estonian Air announced reopening flights to Riga, 17 weekly flights starting from 25 March 2012, and to Helsinki, 18 flights weekly starting from 26 March 2012.[9] As well as opening flights to Vienna, 6 weekly starting from 25 March 2012, and to Hannover, 6 weekly flights starting from 2 April 2012.[10] It also announced increased flights to Stockholm, St. Petersburg and Vilnius starting from March 2012[9] and add extra flights on the Tallinn-Moscow route during the December 2011 holidays.[11]

As of 10 May 2010, the government of Estonia and SAS Scandinavian Airlines have agreed to a transaction where the Estonian government provides an additional 21 million EUR in capital to Estonian Air resulting in the stake of SAS in the carrier to decrease from 49% to 10%. At the same time, the two parties have agreed that the Estonian government gets an option to buy the remaining 10% stake from SAS at a later time between then and 2014. Estonian Air and SAS Scandinavian Airlines will continue to cooperate in the same fashion for the time being.[12][13] The short-term aim of the government is to become a leading shareholder and to invest in the company to ensure its future, as Estonian Air is strategically important to the state. In September 2010, Estonian Air announced that they have finally signed an agreement with Bombardier, in which two CRJ-900 NextGen aircraft are going to be delivered in the beginning of 2011 (both planes were delivered in January 2011) and a third one in 2012.[14][15] The agreement with SAS Scandinavian Airlines was signed on 10 September 2010[16] and it took effect on 27 October 2010 when the Estonian Parliament ratified the 2010 state budget modifications, allocating needed funds for investment. In November 2011, Minister of Economic Affairs Juhan Parts proposed that SAS should follow the state's lead in making substantial investments in Estonian Air. SAS Vice-President Sture Stolen however said that this is unlikely: "We have a good and important partnership with them, but it is not our strategy to be part owners in Baltic airlines".[17]

Estonian Air's new CEO and former AirBaltic chief commercial officer Tero Taskila expected the company to be profitable by 2012 after losing money since 2005. According to Taskila, the company already took a big step late in 2011 by clearing up its messy leadership issues.[18] After further poor financial results in 2012, the government of Estonia decided to fire CEO Tero Taskila. From 1 November 2012, the new CEO was Jan Palmér, who has had over 20 years of experience with different airlines in Scandinavia.

Cessation of operations

On 8 November 2015, Estonian Air ceased all operations after the European Commission declared the government funding received by the airline illegal[3] which would have forced them to pay back over €85 million.[19] Replacement services on key Estonian Air routes have been established on short notice by the government-supported joint venture Nordic Aviation Group (NAG) under leadership of Adria Airways in joint operations with several European regional carriers.[20]


Main article: List of Estonian Air destinations

Estonian Air offered direct flights from Tallinn to Amsterdam, Berlin (summer only), Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin, Hamburg, Kiev, London, Manchester, Moscow, Nice (summer only), Oslo, Paris (summer only), St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Trondheim, Vienna and Vilnius. Estonian Air also had strong links with Scandinavian Airlines (SAS). It operated frequent flights to SAS hubs in Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm. The airline boasted "Well connected with SAS" status and the airline's frequent flyer programme was SAS' EuroBonus scheme. Other products and services shared with SAS included co-ordinated flight schedules and shared airport lounges. Estonian Air had codeshares with SAS on the routes between Tallinn and Stockholm, Trondheim, Copenhagen and Oslo.

Codeshare agreements

Estonian Air had codeshare agreements with the following airlines as of April 2015:


As of the airline's shutdown on 8 November 2015, Estonian Air had a fleet of 6 aircraft with an average age of 8.2 years – 3 Bombardier CRJ900s, 2 CRJ700s and a single Embraer E-170. The company was phasing out its 4 Embraers with plans to operate with 8-10 Bombardier CRJs.[21]

Historic fleet

A former Estonian Air Tupolev Tu-134 in 1994
A former Estonian Air Tupolev Tu-134 in 1994
Estonian Air Mainline Historical Fleet since 1991
Aircraft Introduced Retired Notes
Antonov An-2 1991 1996 From Aeroflot's local division.
Yakovlev Yak-40 1991 1998
Tupolev Tu-134A 1991 1996
Fokker 50 1996 2003
Boeing 737-500 1995 2012
Boeing 737-300 2006 2012
Saab 340 2007 2013
Bombardier CRJ900NG 2011 2015
Embraer E-170 2012 2015
ATR 42-500 2014 2015
Saab 340 2015 2015


On all flights there were two classes of service:

Flex Class

Passengers holding Business or Flexible Economy fare tickets were seated in the forward sections of the one-cabin aircraft. All high-fare passengers were served snacks or meals and beverages depending on the time of departure and length of the flight. Alcoholic drinks were included in the ticket price as well (wine, sparkling wine, gin, rum, brandy etc.).[22]

Eco Class

Eco Class was the Economy-fare product. Refreshments had to be purchased from a buy on board drink menu.[22] As of March 2015, Eco Class passengers were offered complimentary coffee, tea and water on all flights.[23]


Estonian Air Business Class passengers and SAS EuroBonus Gold/Pandion card holders were welcomed to the Business Class Lounge in the transit area in Tallinn. Payphone, free newspapers and magazines were available. Other facilities included a bar, Internet-connected computers and printers.


  1. ^ "About the company". Estonian Air. Archived from the original on 23 August 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Estonian Air will cease operation from 8th of November". Estonian Air. Archived from the original on 7 November 2015. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "OFFICIAL: European Commission rules Estonian Air aid illegal; company halts flights". ERR. 7 November 2015. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  4. ^ "AS Estonian Air". Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  5. ^ Flight International 3 April 2007
  6. ^ Withers, Matt (3 December 2008). "Estonian government and SAS battle for national carrier". The Baltic Times. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 January 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Estonian Air: Estonian Air and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will start cooperation on Amsterdam-Vilnius-Amsterdam route
  8. ^ "Estonian Air launches new routes from Tallinn to Trondheim and Vilnius". Anna Aero. 8 September 2011. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Estonian Air strengthens its presence at home market". Estonian Air. 17 November 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  10. ^ "Estonian Air will start flights to Vienna and Hannover". Estonian Air. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  11. ^ "Estonian Air adds flights on Tallinn-Moscow route during the holidays". Estonian Air. 25 November 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  12. ^ Hõbemägi, Toomas (10 May 2010). "Estonia, SAS signs letter of intent on Estonian Air". Baltic Business News. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  13. ^ "SAS sells 49 percent stake in Estonian Air". The Local. 4 June 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  14. ^ "Estonian Air and Bombardier signed a contract regarding delivery of three new CRJ900 NextGen aircraft". Estonian Air. 13 September 2010. Archived from the original on 27 September 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  15. ^ Estonian CRJ900s to arrive in 2011 under new dea. Retrieved 13 September 2010
  16. ^ "Riik ja SAS panid täna paika Estonian Airi omandisuhted". Postimees. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  17. ^ Roman, Steve (22 November 2011). "Minister Negotiates With SAS Over Investment in Estonian Air". ERR News – Estonian Public Broadcasting. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  18. ^ Tammik, Ott (1 June 2011). "Airline's New CEO Hopes for Profit by 2012". Err. ERR News – Estonian Public Broadcasting. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  19. ^ "Estonian Air stellt Betrieb nach EU-Beihilfeentscheid ein". 7 November 2015.
  20. ^ - About Nordic Aviation Group retrieved 9 November 2015
  21. ^ "Fotod: Estonian Air sai kätte esimese "uue" lennuki". Postimees. 2 October 2015. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  22. ^ a b "Onboard service on Estonian Air flights Archived 22 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine."
  23. ^ ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 June 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)."

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