Tallinn Airport: How rapid restructuring created a better customer experience during a crisis

Guest Author by Guest Author | Mar 16, 2021

Written by Jane Kallaste, Communication Specialist, Tallinn Airport

Tallinn Airport is Estonia’s largest airport and the only international airport that aims at being the world’s cosiest airport. Our policy to offer passengers a friendly service in a cosy environment has resulted in the title of the European Best Airport in the category of airports with 2–5 million passengers.

In 2019, the number of passengers at Tallinn Airport surpassed the threshold of three million. The next year, however, brought along an unexpectedly extensive decline in the number of passengers throughout the world. Nevertheless, AS Tallinna Lennujaam was able to end the year with a smaller than estimated loss and positive earnings before depreciation (EBITDA), which is a remarkable achievement among European airports.

Riivo Tuvike, Chairman of the Management Board of Tallinn Airport is sure that timely decisions, several cutbacks, and effective cost management have helped to cope better than expected: “Despite the very tough decisions, it is apparent, in retrospect, that the quick reaction helped us continue with our strategic investments and still maintain a good investment capability. Our goal was to optimize the costs in a way to maintain the top-level friendly passenger service and on the other hand, invest also in developments and environmental projects. We estimate an increase in the number of destinations and passengers starting from summer, as the airlines are motivated to offer the air services and those who have postponed their travel plans for a long time, would like to start travelling again as soon as possible,” Tuvike believes.

Clean and cosy

Tallinn Airport considers the convenience of travellers important and one of the cornerstones of the team’s mission is the principle: we have the cosiest airport in the world (#cosiESTairport). This means that  each stage of the passenger journey, the airport seeks to compensate the travel anxiety that could be caused by the regulations and procedures established for the sake of security.

A cosy atmosphere is created with well-considered interior design, marking the route for the passengers in a clear manner, and using several smart solutions. For example, the announcement of security check, heard from all airport speakers, has been recorded using a child’s voice – this unexpected solution makes the passengers smile and relieves anxiety, but also makes sure that the important message is noticed. In addition to all customary airport services, a passenger can also as per regulatory hygiene measures play the piano and table tennis (ping-pong), watch 3D videos introducing Estonia, and read books at the self-service library and borrow them for your trip.

On top of everything, the pandemic has led to higher requirements on hygiene. The cleaning schedules and other hygiene measures at the terminal were notably supplemented. In addition, the airport employees were distributed personal protective equipment and information for preventing the spread of virus, in order to protect the staff as well as the passengers. Passengers, whose demand for cleanliness was higher than ever before, noticed the changes and the level of cleanliness in the passenger terminal and the results of the passenger survey ASQ conducted by ACI confirmed that the passengers continue to be very satisfied with the service as well as compliance with the hygiene measures.

Focus on environmental protection

Riivo Tuvike confirms that the today’s and tomorrow’s plans of the Tallinn Airport focus on environmental protection and the sustainability principles: “The green transition in aviation is just a matter of time. Tallinn Airport already has a small solar park and, additionally, the solar panels have been installed in other regional airports throughout Estonia. The goal is to increase the capacity of our solar parks, so that we are able to produce altogether 20% of our energy need with our own production units by the end of the next year.”

When purchasing new equipment, we always choose as environmentally friendly as possible, waste is collected separately, and we are constantly increasing environmental awareness among both, the employees as well as passengers. For example, we recommend passengers to pack a reusable bottle in their hand luggage which can be filled with tap water at the cafes. The airport parking station has charging places for electric vehicles and a specially designed parking lot for bicycles, as the Tallinn Airport is one of the few airports in the world that is located just a short bike ride from the centre of the capital.

With the ASQ award, the passengers of Tallinn Airport have repeatedly considered the airport the best airport in Europe among the airports with 2–5 million passengers. This recognition is thanks to the feedback of passengers which confirms that focussing on the comfort and cosiness of travellers and high hygiene standards have proven their worth.

Jane Kallaste works as a Communication Specialist at Tallinn Airport. She joined the airport team year ago and her responsibilities include both internal and external communication, as well as crisis communication. Before joining the airport team, she used to work as a Communication Manager at the Estonian Rescue Board’s Northen Rescue Center.

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