Sunday, August 28, 2005

A Changing Baltic World

The other day I was in Helsinki discussing business developments in our rapidly changing part of the world.

Little more than a decade and a half ago I remember how there was an empty and drab Soviet vessel going from Helsinki harbour to neighbouring Tallinn in the then Soviet Estonian Republic three times a week or something of that order.

Contacts were nearly non-existent. Business did not exist. Controls were extremely strict.

Now things are - mildly speaking - somewhat different.

Any given day there are now in the order of forty (40) departures by different forms of ships from Helsinki to Tallinn.

Add to that the helicopter service several times every hour between the city centres. The journey itself takes 17 minutes. And then there is of course the regular air services for those interested in connecting primarily with Helsinki Airport and the route network there.

Business of all sorts is booming. Just one example of interest.

The Finnish air carrier Finnair has put all its turboprop domestic traffic in a separate company which it has registred in Estonia and based in Tallinn. Not only are the costs significantly lower, but I was told that the work ethic has also improved markedly.

It must be unique for a flag carrier of this sort to offshore its domestic operations to a nearby country.

But this is the new Europe emerging in the Baltic world. At the end of the day, we are all the winners.