Newly appointed Estonian Air chief executive Tero Taskila is aiming to hit the ground running, saying the carrier needs to have a strategy in place by September this year.

Taskila took the reins of the national carrier in June, replacing Andrus Aljas, but will have little time to present a strategic plan to the shareholders: the Estonian government and minority stakeholder SAS Group.

"We are reassessing everything and we aim to present an overall long-term strategy to our shareholders in the summer," he says. "The overall strategy has to be finalised by September."

Acknowledging the intense competition, particularly from low-cost carriers Norwegian, Ryanair and his old company AirBaltic, Taskila points out that Estonian Air has come out of the current downturn in a good shape. The national carrier recorded a 12.2% year-on-year increase in passenger numbers for the first four months of 2011. "This provides a good platform for future plans," says Taskila.

He says Estonian Air is studying two business models. It could concentrate on point-to-point services; or develop Tallin as a hub in order to offer more frequent links between Estonia and various European cities. "Tallin is becoming an attractive destination and the data from the airport shows passenger numbers are on the rise," he says.

Taskila also says the carrier has to review its strategy from Vilnius, from where it operates two routes. "Either we stay there and open more destinations, or we leave," he says. Depending on the final decision, Estonian Air could operate a fleet of a single regional type or a two-aircraft family.

Source: Airline Business