NyxAir (NYX, Tallinn Lennart Meri) has officially won a long-contested tender to operate an Estonian public service obligation route between Tallinn Lennart Meri and Kuressaare on the island of Saaremaa, local broadcaster ERR reported.

The Public Procurement Review Committee ruled on October 2 against a challenge by Nordica subsidiary Xfly (EE, Tallinn Lennart Meri) against the decision of the Estonian Road Authority (Maanteeamet), which is running the tender, to award it to its competitor.

Since Xfly had not presented a further appeal to the Tallinn Administrative Court by a set deadline, the committee explained, the tender was confirmed and NyxAir is now cleared to start operating the Kuressaare route according to the EUR16.8 million euro (USD19.7 million) contract.

“The deadline to appeal to the Public Procurement Review Committee has passed and the Road Authority can now sign a contract for operation on the Kuressaare-Tallinn flight route. The date that the new carrier begins operating will become clear after the contract is signed,” Kirke Williamson, head of the authority’ public transport department, told ERR.

NyxAir will ply the route with an ATR42-500, chief executive Jaanus Ojamets told the broadcaster. However, it currently operates a Saab-only fleet, whose average age is 28.3 years, made up of three Saab 2000s, one Saab Saab 340A, three Saab Saab 340Bs, and one Saab 340(F), the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows.

Disputes have repeatedly interrupted the award process over the last two years as the airlines bidding for the contract pointed to the age and size of their competitors' aircraft not matching the contract's specifications.

Xfly also objected to NyxAir's win by arguing it did not have an international ticket sales platform and that its offer of EUR5,215 (USD6,122) per flight would lead to undersupply. The appeals committee did not agree.

Lithuania's TransAviaBaltika (KTB, Kaunas) currently operates the route. It also submitted a proposal for the tender, as did business and private charter specialist Diamond Sky (DMS, Tallinn Lennart Meri) and Latvian charter carrier RAF-Avia (MTL, Riga).