Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas replied to the interpellation concerning the liquidation of Estonian Air (No. 92), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Mihhail Korb, Märt Sults, Kadri Simson, Aadu Must, Martin Repinski, Vladimir Velman, Enn Eesmaa, Priit Toobal, Valeri Korb, Lauri Laasi, Viktor Vassiljev, Siret Kotka, Erki Savisaar and Andrei Novikov on 9 November 2015.
The interpellators referred to the fact that Estonian Air had terminated its business activity on 8 November 2015 because, in the opinion of the European Commission, the state had allocated a total of 125.6 million euro illegal state aid (of which 84.9 has been paid) to the airline in 2010-2014, and the enterprise got unjustified advantage over competitors. The inability of the airline to refund the aid granted by the state had led to the decision to liquidate Estonian Air Ltd.
The interpellators wished to know how the Prime Minister assessed the Government’s activities in 2010-2015 in connection with the economic activities of Estonian Air and the management thereof, as well as an assessment of who is responsible for the bankruptcy of the airline.
In Rõivas’s words, he is convinced that Estonia which is situated on the edge of the European Union must have an airline that is based in Tallinn. This helps ensure that people can fly to the large centres of Europe in the morning and back in the evening. The European Union regulations presume that an airline must be profitable and operate in market conditions. “I would add here that the bankruptcy of just one enterprise belonging to the state should not be generalised as business always involves risks. Estonian state enterprises have mostly been profitable after all, and have provided important support to the state budget in the form of dividends,” Rõivas said.
The interpellators wished to know Rõivas’s assessment of the activities of the former Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts because large-scale illegal state aid had been granted to Estonian Air at the time when he was the Minister.
Rõivas explained that aviation is a considerably complex area of activity. Nearly all European countries and airlines have been in difficulties, except for some cheap airlines. The reasons are often due also to the general economic environment. The situation has somewhat improved by today. The fuel price, which accounts for about one fourth of the costs of airlines, has fallen significantly. “The Estonian Government holds the position, and has been doing so for a long time already, that we need an airline based in Tallinn,” Rõivas noted. “I would therefore refrain from accusing and labelling. There is always the consideration of what the alternative to these decisions would have been,” the Prime Minister said. He expressed a doubt if the result would have been more positive for the Estonian people and the enterprise itself if the enterprise had not received aid from the state and would have had to terminate its activities already years ago.
The Prime Minister pointed out the facts relating to the establishment of the new national airline Nordic Aviation Group. “From the part of the Government, we charged the enterprise with the task to draw up a business plan so that the enterprise would reach profitability and would be able to operate flights sustainably,” Rõivas said. He repeated once more that, taking into account rational considerations, we will need an airline that would be based in Tallinn also in the future. Rõivas was not sure if this airline would have to remain 100% in the ownership of the state forever and ever. “I think that here it will be possible to seriously consider alternatives in the future.” He thought it important that the enterprise be launched normally in order that it could service air passengers in the same amount as Estonian Air did, and hopefully even more in the future.
The Prime Minister also replied to the interpellation concerning suitability of Juhan Parts to the European Court of Auditors (No. 95).
The Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kristen Michal also replied to an interpellation concerning the causing of the bankruptcy of the airline Estonian Air (No. 93) and the interpellation concerning the launching of Nordic Aviation (No. 96).
The Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise replied to the interpellation concerning the unjustified waiting area fee on border crossing (No. 101).
The Minister of Entrepreneurship Liisa Oviir replied to the interpellation concerning the sustainability of the Development Fund (No. 100).
The Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand replied to the interpellation concerning a foreign diplomat’s interference with the internal affairs of Estonia (No. 106), the interpellation concerning the positions of the Government of the Republic of Estonia on the validity of Tartu Peace Treaty and the occupation of the areas mentioned in the Peace Treaty (No. 110) and the interpellation concerning the compensating for occupation damages to the Republic of Estonia by the Russian Federation (No. 112).
The sitting ended at 7.52 p.m.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
Riigikogu Press Service
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