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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Monday, 18.01.2021, 22:25

Estonia's flight restrictions require EU Commission's nod

BC, Tallinn, 19.05.2020.Print version
The decision of Estonia's Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas to ban flights from Tallinn to countries with a high risk of coronavirus infection for three weeks until June 7 requires the approval of the European Commission, Postimees reported, cites LETA/BNS.

The head of the European Commission representation to Estonia, Keit Kasemets, said on social media that while under valid regulations the Commission has to be notified of flight bans, the Estonian notification has not been received yet. He also said that a notification is not enough if a ban lasts for more than two weeks, in which case an endorsement by the European Commission is required. 

The order signed by Aas says that the restriction is valid for 21 days and the need for it will be assessed by the ministry looking at the epidemiological situation. Taivo Linnamagi, head of the aviation and maritime affairs department at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, told Postimees that a notification will be sent to the Commission in the next few days. According to Kasemets, ten more countries of Europe in addition to Estonia have imposed prohibitions on flights. 

"During the past month no country has imposed prohibitions on flights and several countries have lifted existing ones. It seems that Estonia is moving in the opposite direction," he said.

The order signed by the Estonian minister says that if the need for the restrictions persists for more than 14 days, the member states will notify the Commission and other member states, and the ban may be extended by an agreement with the European Commission 14 days at a time.

In allowing or prohibiting flights, the Estonian ministry will base its decision on the infection rate in the individual countries of destination, which must be 25 or less cases per ­100,000 residents for it to be possible for an air route to be opened.

As at Monday, flights from Estonia to the UK, Sweden, Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Belarus and Russia were prohibited, speaking of European countries. The infection rate has dropped blow 25 per ­100,000 residents in Italy and Denmark, which were exempted from the restriction on Monday.

At present it is possible to fly from Tallinn to Frankfurt with Lufthansa and to Helsinki with  Finnair. Also, domestic flights to the island capitals Kardla and Kuressaare have been resumed by operator Transaviabaltika. Flights by the Belarusian airline Belavia between Minsk and Tallinn will take place until May 23, after which the line will be closed until June 6, spokesperson for Tallinn Airport Margot Holts said.

On Monday, the Latvian carrier Air Baltic opened air services from Tallinn to Amsterdam and Riga. The carrier initially wanted to open also the Tallinn-Copenhagen route on Monday, but the resumption of that service was postponed until Wednesday due to the flight ban concerning Denmark having been in effect on Monday. Beginning from Thursday, Air Baltic will be flying between Tallinn and Oslo, and between Tallinn and Vilnius beginning from May 21.

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