A decision to award a tender to operate domestic flights between Tallinn Lennart Meri and Kuressaare on Saaremaa, Estonia's biggest island, has again been contested, the latest in a series of disputes dating back to 2018, the broadcaster ERR reported.

Nordica subsidiary Xfly (EE, Tallinn Lennart Meri), formerly Regional Jet, has challenged a decision by the Estonian Road Authority (Maanteeamet), which is running the tender, to award it to competitor NyxAir (NYX, Tallinn Lennart Meri).

Disputes as to whether the age and size of the aircraft of the tender's various applicants match the contract's specifications have repeatedly complicated the award process over the last two years.

The aircraft of the current tender holder, Lithuania's TransAviaBaltika (KTB, Kaunas), had previously been declared too old for the route, but it will continue to operate the service until a successor is appointed. It also serves Kärdla on Estonia's second-largest island, Hiiumaa.

According to the terms of the tender, only aircraft manufactured after 2000 should be used. TransAviaBaltika's Jetstream 32s are older than that.

Five carriers filed their offers for the latest effort to award the EUR16.8 million (USD19.8 million) contract - NyxAir, Xfly, TransAviaBaltika, Diamond Sky (DMS, Tallinn Lennart Meri), an Estonian business and private charter carrier that operates scheduled air transport to the smaller island of Ruhnu, and Latvian charter carrier RAF-Avia (MTL, Riga).

“The offer of NyxAir was declared successful. But as a challenge has been raised, we cannot speculate on which aircraft will be flown and the estimated cost of the procurement, because the contract has not been concluded. At the same time, we cannot comment on the ongoing dispute,” Meelis Telliskivi of the Road Authority told the Estonian newspaper Postimees.

Founded in 2017, NyxAir operates a fleet of Saab aircraft whose average age is 28.2 years, made up of three Saab 2000s, one Saab 340A, three Saab 340Bs, and one Saab 340(F), the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows. Xfly operates a fleet with an average age of 10.3 years, made up of eight ATR72-600s, two CRJ700 Srs 701ER, six CRJ900ERs, and six CRJ900LRs.