In a public letter to the Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, Estonians living in Ireland note that Tallinn Airport’s fee increase and Ryanair’s subsequent decision to stop flights from Tallinn to Dublin will make coming home to visit very difficult, the Estonian daily Postimees writes.
In the letter, the diaspora notes that Tallinn Airport’s decision and Ryanair’s reaction to it mark a very painful fundamental life change for Estonians living in Ireland.
“Our appeal is a summary of the community members’ week-long discussions, which shows how big the impact of a narrowly commercial decision is on Estonianness. The Estonian community in Ireland was formed after 2004. This is the largest group of new emigrants where the traditions of previous generations of emigrants are absent,” the signatories write.
“We are direct consumers of Estonian culture and therefore open and sensitive to the availability of communication opportunities in Estonian. Ryanair is a good example here. When cheap direct flights started in 2010 and ticket prices initially fell tenfold, the local social scene also slowly moved to the homeland. Now that there are no direct flights, a lot will change for us,” they add.
Estonians in Ireland are faced with three concerns when visiting home by way of layover.
“Connecting flights with small children are a real logistical ordeal, unless you fly in business class, sending children home for the school holidays with a travel companion is over for now, and impulsive short visits to Estonia are put on hold for us as well as for Irish tourists,” the Estonians living in Ireland write.
“All this means that we will no longer travel to Estonia with our family at every free opportunity. We will not bring grandparents over from Estonia to look after our children or go there to see our grandchildren. It is easier to organise this in Latvia or Italy,” the diaspora adds.
According to the signatories, a seemingly small fiscal policy decision made in the administrative area of one ministry triggered an avalanche that affects many people’s faith and trust in Estonia.
“In the case of similar decisions in the future, it might be worthwhile to carry out a wider impact analysis, to ask ministers what we will gain, what we will lose,” they add.
In early February, low-cost carrier Ryanair announced that, due to an increase in airport fees, the airline will end flights from Tallinn on seven routes, including Dublin, at the end of March and continue flights to only eight destinations. In December, the low-cost airline stopped flights from Tallinn to Edinburgh and Liverpool.
Over 2,000 Estonian citizens live in Ireland.