Estonian national carrier Nordica passed a milestone in 2017 as it moved into profit in just its second year of existence.

A boom in passenger numbers saw the airline edge into the black with a profit of €900,000 ($1 million) after having previously forecast a loss of €6 million for the year. The airline did not specify whether the profit figure was before or after tax.

The improvement in Nordica’s fortunes was primarily because of a 68% leap in passenger numbers over the year, to 613,000. Part of the reason for the uplift was that for the latter half of 2017, Estonia held the rotating chairmanship of the 28-nation European Union, which saw an influx of officials heading for the Estonian capital, Tallinn.

Because of the small size of the local market (the country’s population is around 1.3 million), Nordica’s objective of building up a sustainable and profitable airline has also focused on the provision of services for foreign markets. Nordica has a strategic partnership with LOT Polish Airlines, which has a 49% stake in the Estonian airline.

Nordic Aviation Group chairman Jaan Tamm said that support from domestic passengers had been a major factor in the company’s improved figures. “Building up a brand new airline isn’t easy, so having the support of the local population is critical.”

The Estonian airline started the year with six aircraft, but added a further 10 to its fleet throughout 2017, primarily Bombardier CRJ700 and -900 regional jets. Three new routes were launched during the year: St Petersburg, Hamburg and Gothenburg.

Alan Dron