Peripheral Baltic Sea regions have been characterized by depopulation and weak socio-economic conditions. These trends are contrary to the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (BSR), VASAB and the integrated territorial development of the EU (see Art. 3 (2c) of the Council Regulation (EC) No. 1083/2006 and Art. 6 (2) of Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006).
Although train and ferry connections exist, only airside quality accessibility is the key to change the current situation and to bring employers, investors and market demands to the remote regions. Being aware of the interrelation between socio economic development and accessibility, 21 regional authorities, airports, economic development agencies and transport institutes from 8 Baltic countries incl. Norway as well as 5 international airlines have established a trans-national partnership to work on efficient, effective and viable air transport connections for peripheral regions to improve airside accessibility as well as regional competitiveness (more job opportunities and growing economic prosperity) of peripheral Baltic Sea regions in an economic and sustainable way.
The large and experienced partnership aims at establishing new flight connections to peripheral areas by a trans-nationally developed and applied specific set of instruments, such as: Air Transport Market Analysis, Airport Marketing Concept, Public Service Obligations Manual, Tourism Destination Development Check List.
Based on a best practice approach, those instruments shall be jointly developed and implemented during the project execution. The BALTIC BIRD (BB) partnership will also analyse how to reduce extensive detours flights via Oslo and Stockholm to the benefit of less fuel consuming direct flights, connecting locations in the northern part of Norway, Sweden and Finland while reducing CO2 footprint.
BB partnership will also work on better interconnectivity which will combine airside transportation with sustainable innovative individual public transport services to/from airports to reduce individual transport share. By involving Lead Partner (LP) of IV B BSR project BalticAirCargo.net in the project, joint cargo and PAX market activities can be bundled with stronger impact on new flight connections/better accessibility in BSR. Further clustering activities will be executed over boarders of the BSR program by integrating LP’s airport of IV B Central Europe “CHAMPIONS” project as well as LP from South Baltic IV A “South Baltic Global Access” (SBGA) project. As those projects follow a similar approach, BB will use elaborated and available approaches, structures and instruments for a more effective project work.
A joint policy framework paper shall be developed and submitted to DG Region/DG MOVE proposing ideas for improvement in EU regional policy for peripheral BSR. By this cluster approach up to 40 partners from different INTERREG regions can actively participate in EU policy on regional development and accessibility.
Directly after the BALTIC BIRD (BB) project Kick-off meeting in Potsdam in March 2012 the works on passenger (PAX) market potential analyses started. Such analyses of market demand for air transport in peripheral BSR reflect the current and future travel demands of people to/from BSR and investigate the demand potential existing to inaugurate air services in the forthcoming schedule periods. Airports in remote BSR as well as the public benefit from new flight routes resulting from the analyses giving them better access to business and social life. In April 2012 partners began transnationally working out the conceptual design of PAX potential analysis integrating best-practice experiences, ideas and needs from airports, airlines, and involved partner regions. The transnational share of knowledge is essential to develop in the end direct flights to/from remote BSR together with other regional airports with the aim to feed flight operators own flight system with PAX volumes. Until end of September 2013 draft final results of the analysis were elaborated which is used by the project partners for approaching airlines. Subsequently the BB group has worked on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threads (SWOTs) regarding current and future linkage of their public transport services (PTS) with airport and air transport. Best-practices of airport interconnectivity in peripheral and agglomerated Baltic Sea Regions have been identified. Together with the SWOTs they have been integrated into the elaboration of strategic options for innovative PTS solutions to enhance airport interconnectivity. Better intermodal interconnectivity of the airports with their surrounding areas and facilitation of the use of public transport systems (PTS) when accessing BSR airports will lead to reductions of emission of greenhouse gases per departing/arriving PAX by lowering individual traffic to/from airports. Until end of 2013, BB has finalized the development of a strategy toolbox for project partners (PP) and regional airports in the BSR to stimulate inauguration of routes to/from the BSR with medium or low PAX potentials such as airport marketing strategies referring to experiences/needs of involved airports/airlines. This offers better skills and knowledge for airports and peripheral regions improving their regional accessibility. A pilot-project is executed to implement the airport marketing strategy of "Two airports Acting as One Destination" to attract airlines to set up new flight routes. Transnational knowledge exchange has led to tourism destination concepts utilizing regional tourism potential and increasing perception of remote BSR as destinations. Application guidelines for Public Service Obligations (PSO) and Route Development Funds (RDF) have equipped the partners with knowledge how to encourage airlines to operate non-economically viable flight routes. In addition the BSR regions are informed about the regional economic impact of such flight routes.