An unlikely tie up between Slovenian flag carrier Adria Airways and the Estonian government sees a somewhat ironic scenario of the ailing Brnik-based airline honouring many of the services previously operated by the recently defunct Estonian Air. Having received a substantial government bail out in 2009 that has since been declared by the European Commission to be illegal state aid that didn’t satisfactorily restructure the airline for it to remain a viable concern, Estonian Air has ceased to trade and will only reemerge as a phoenix company under the Nordic Aviation Group(NAG), a moniker I presume for the time being to be a working title. In the meantime the incumbent Tallinn-based administration have somewhat improbably chosen Adria to operate several of the former airline’s services using jets previously owned by Estonian Air.

A transitional phase that will include bespoke training to verse cabin staff with Adria protocol will eventually see a Slovenian influence on proceedings for a 12-18 month period. Whether this strengthens Adria’s position during another turbulent episode in its history remains to be seen but its credentials as a competent airline have rarely been questioned, despite the risk of alienating its customers during a brutal cost-cutting drive that savagely pared to the bone what is offered to passengers in the form of on board catering and the general inflight experience.  It does though add a further string to its bow in the wake of ongoing developments involving the denationalisation process of the predominantly state-owned Adria amid reports of an €8 million recapitalisation programme needed to sustain the airline through the traditionally fallow winter season.

Adria’s expertise will prove invaluable to the Nordic Aviation Group(NAG), the embryonic successor to Estonian Air, who are not expected to operate as a standalone entity for the foreseeable future. Working in unison could pave the way for future code-share agreements between Adria and NAG, allowing Slovenia to tap into the potentially lucrative but largely unrealised Scandinavian and Baltic markets. The formation of the Nordic Aviation Group will surely though end speculation that Adria would have first refusal of acquiring any of Estonian Air’s fleet, the aircraft presumably falling under the auspices of NAG although a leaner operation could see a smaller raft of aircraft being used on fewer flights, potentially opening the door for Adria to move away from solely using planes it doesn’t actually own.

Another twist in the tale affords aviation analysts few clues to Adria’s next chapter, although dull and predictable it undoubtedly won’t be.

Further reading on this issue and details of Adria-operated services from Tallinn can be viewed at:

Ex Yugoslav Aviation: Adria Airways to operate several Estonian Air routes