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15 March 2022
by Eero Pärgmäe
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How can green Estonian aviation help to secure Estonian independency

On February 21, the Extraordinary Meeting of Cabinet Ministers was held at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications with the participation of Estonian Aviation Cluster members, which unites 25 companies for the time being. Ministry was represented by Andres Sutt, Minister of Entrepreneurship and ICT while the other Minister Taavi Aas was substituted by Ahti Kuningas, Vice Chancellor of Transport. Mr Kuningas acted also as a Chair or the Meeting.

The aim of the meeting was to identify how Estonia could meet the Green Deal targets in a post Covid environment (a government obligation), provide growth opportunities for Estonian companies (a win for Estonian Aviation Cluster and the Estonian GDP) and position Estonia as a location for innovation and technology (to avoid a brain drain and secure future employment). Altogether four projects were suggested for achieving such goals. The keynote presentation was made by said Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus[1], Managing Director, Aviation Strategy & Concepts.

“I am deeply impressed by Estonia’s ability to innovate; I have not seen anything comparable in other European countries,” described Mr Strathaus his intrinsic motivation, why he chose to contribute with his extensive know-how. Estonian companies have acquired expertise and experience in developing fossil-free aircraft propulsion technology, and are, in fact, amongst the leaders in drone technology.  The European Commission expects the number of drones in the sky to exceed the number of commercial aircraft in the coming years.

“The developments in this country are at such a mature level, that – subject to detailed analyses and feasibility studies – this country’s aviation sector can contribute it securing Estonia’s future. Estonia should, for example, also consider building plants to produce sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) in Estonia,” Mr. Schulte-Strathaus outlined.

However, building SAF plant and other projects which would exploit Estonian know-how, attract foreign investments and create employment, depend on sufficient highly qualified staff in the Estonian transport Administration. There was a consensus that such supervision is urgently needed in the public interest.

The meeting showed that aviation is by no means simply a cost factor. “Investments into aviation are investments into high tech, and that is one of Estonia’s key strengths,” said Mr Schulte-Strathaus. “We don’t need tons of money at the moment. All that we need is an outline, narrative and then decision lever, that this is priority,”  Andres Sutt, Minister of Entrepreneurship and ICT, said in concluding. His summary was a call for action.

[1] Mr Strathaus has over 30 years of experience in the aviation sector, having worked in several senior positions at Lufthansa, and then for 10 years as Secretary General of the Brussels-based Association of European Airlines. He has worked for several EU agencies and European governments focusing on the strategic orientation of the national aviation policy. Before engaging him again, he was involved in a project to help analyse how international connectivity can be secured in the absence of a national carrier.

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