Nordica (EE, Tallinn Lennart Meri) may have to find a strategic partner or be sold, according to the chairman of the Estonian Parliament's Economic Affairs Committee, who also criticised the virtual carrier’s withdrawal from the passenger business with effect from July 1 as being “not a good solution” in terms of the state’s strategic control over routes from the country.

Sven Sester, a former finance minister, told Estonia's public broadcaster ERR that a strategic partner for the state-owned flag carrier should be found or, failing that, the state's stake in the company should be sold altogether.

Following the bankruptcy of its predecessor Estonian Air in 2015, Sester said, the only reason Nordica was created at all was to guarantee routes that were strategically important to the national economy.

But with the change revealed last week to its agreement with LOT Polish Airlines, which downgrades Nordica's role to an ACMI/charter specialist, LOT has taken over everything else from ticketing to customer service. Subcontracting for other airlines is not among the Estonian state's strategic national interests, he complained.

Nordica subsidiary Regional Jet has been 49% owned by LOT since March 2017 and will continue to provide capacity to LOT, among other airlines.

"Nordica won't have its own routes anymore, and won't take any of the related business risks, but will instead operate through its subsidiary Regional Jet. This means that Nordica is turned into a subcontractor that only operates routes for carriers of other countries," Sester said, according to ERR.

On July 1, Nordica reported in a press release that its revenues for 2018 rose by 30% to EUR107.7 million on the back of a 33% increase in passenger numbers to 765,000, yet it still saw a net loss for the year of EUR5.4 million.