Latvian prime minister Valdis Dombrovskis and Transport Minister Aivis Ronis are convinced that Estonia and Latvia should merge their respective national air carriers, writes bbn.ee.
According to Latvian ministers, such a pan-Baltic airline would have its base in Riga that would become the central hub for all Baltic countries, writes Eesti Päevaleht daily.
“We are open to the idea of creating a pan-Baltic airline, but no-one has discussed this plan seriously yet,” said Dombrovskis, adding that airBaltic was in the middle of finding a strategic investor.
Transport Minister Ronis said that talks with investors are underway, but did not specify which companies are interested in investing in airBaltic.
Some analysts say that since times are tough, it is difficult to find a strategic investor for airBaltic that lost 121 million euros in 2011.
“Until the airline is involved in court cases, no reasonable investor is willing to invest in it,” said Ainars Slesers, former government minister. Slesers has also said that he does not believe that airBaltic would make it until 2015.
Another former minister Edmunds Krastins believes that the list of possible investors could include Chinese, Arab or Turkish businessmen, but not European investors.
Estonian minister of economic affairs Juhan Parts who oversees Estonian Air says that since there has been no discussion on the subject, there is nothing to comment.
“This is something that the airlines’ boards and supervisory councils should do. If their analysis shows that a merger would be feasible, the shareholders’ should consider it,” he added.
Martin Gauss, president of airBaltic, said that an SAS-type airline would not be a good idea and that, instead, Estonian Air and airBaltic should share codes.
Tero Taskila, CEO of Estonian Air, said that if both governments are shareholders of a joint airline, neither would be prepared to close any existing connections that they consider important for their respective countries although such an airline would have to do it if it wanted to be profitable.