Known as the most digital country in the world, Estonia has a second ace up its sleeve which it is keen to market; especially now that it has been heavily invested in: Tallinn Airport. Located at a perfect half-way point between Asia and North America, its vision is two-fold: to function as a useful technical stopover and – more importantly - to become the largest cargo hub in the Baltics. Hasan Steinberg (HS), Air Cargo Development Manager at Tallinn Airport, spoke about the airport in detail to CargoForwarder Global (CFG).
CFG: Tallinn Airport is aspiring to grow into the largest cargo hub of the region. What are its plans and investments in this regard?
HS: The largest investment project of the last decade is coming to an end at Tallinn Airport. The total cost of the project aimed at improving aviation safety, capacity, and environmental status (2012–2023) is 74 million euros, of which 35 million euros are co-funded by the Cohesion Fund. The investments (taxiways, brand new apron, and more wide body stands) made in the infrastructure offer an attractive option to cargo carriers: by deciding to transit Tallinn, they can opt to carry more payload and less fuel, and thus increase their revenue. Tallinn now has a total of 7 wide body stands and is therefore capable of handling a larger number of wide body aircraft (E class) throughout the day.
CFG: What about Tallinn’s cargo facilities?
HS: DHL and FedEx both operate dedicated warehouses at Tallinn Airport. There are also two general cargo warehouses run by ISO-certified, established handling agents: Ospentos International operates a fully digitalized 2200 m² warehouse with an additional focus on dangerous goods, and Cargo Handling AS has a 1500+ m2 warehouse. Both offer general cargo (regular and ad hoc, loose/ULD) alongside airmail and e-commerce solutions.
CFG: How has Tallinn Airport experienced the past 2 years in particular? Positive or negative?
HS: The past two years have been challenging, but it has made the airport and its community more flexible, and taught everyone new ways of doing things. Given Tallinn Airport’s size, it has proven to be very versatile during the pandemic. The airport was able to adapt to the trends and market by swapping resources rapidly and flexibly, thus ensuring minimal COVID-19 impact. Focusing on serving and improving the ability to support ad hoc and general aviation flights has turned out to be important. Finally, we are already reaching positive financial figures in 2022. This shows the efficiency of the airport.
CFG: Which aircraft types can be handled at Tallinn?
HS: Tallinn Airport has a long runway (3480m) and a new infrastructure which makes it possible to handle all popular aircraft types, both wide and narrow body. In addition, serving an Antonov AN-124 or other rare passenger, cargo, or military aircraft types is possible at Tallinn Airport. At the moment we are successfully providing services for daily stops of multiple Airbus A330.
Maintenance and repair services are offered in Tallinn by Magnetic MRO, which is specialized in Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 aircraft families, but can also support and adapt to Airbus A330 and other popular aircraft types.
CFG: Are there any restrictions, such as a Night Flight Ban or noise pollution limits?
HS: In comparison to most capital airports in the region, Tallinn Airport does not have any slot or noise restrictions, which make operations via Tallinn even more accessible, and being open 24/7 provides extra flexibility to operators.
CFG: What are preferred routings via Tallinn at present?
HS: Tallinn Airport is looking to boost traffic between Asia and North America as well as Asia and Europe, which extends possibilities to deliver and collect air cargo to/from eastern Europe and Scandinavian destinations by truck.
CFG: How is the airport connected with regard to Multimodal?
HS: Tallinn Airport is in a good geographical location to connect cargo and e-commerce to Nordics, eastern, and central Europe. Estonia has strong road feeder service (RFS) providers in place, and connectivity by ships to Finland and Sweden makes operation easier and more accessible.
CFG: What other USPs does Tallinn Airport offer?
HS: Tallinn Airport in cooperation with Estonian Tax and Customs Board, digital platform providers, and local cargo warehouses, are aiming to declare thousands of e-commerce parcels in minutes, which might create an advantage to support multimodal transportation in the future even more.
CFG: What is Tallinn Airport's outlook for 2022?
HS: As the aviation sector is evolving, airports cannot predict anything, but with the flexibility here in Tallinn, we expect some organic and trend driven growth of tonnage and flights.
Thank you, Hasan Steinberg, for your insights.
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