Tallinn Airport improvements mean more passengers and more flights – and more airport jobs in Estonia to make sure the passengers safely reach their destination.

  Mul on tööd: Tallinna Lennujaamas, kahe jalaga maa peal

Five snowploughs, driving side by side, clear half of an airplane landing strip of snow at Tallinn Airport. They then make a U-turn and get the second half on their way back.

One of the new drivers of the snowploughs is Maido Traks, 52, who grew up on a country farm and knows how to use big machines.

“We have 200 different machines at the airport,” he says. “Buses, snowploughs, tractors, cranes.... The expectation is that you should know your way around most of them. People from the countryside are definitely better with machines. A few city guys manage, as well.”

Maido joined Tallinn Airport last October. The airport has been undergoing major renovations, with the help of a €30 million loan from the European Investment Bank, the EU bank. One of the improvements was upgrading the draining network to catch all the chemicals in the de-icing pellets and liquids.

“When it turns cold, rain is coming down and there’s ice, you need to sow the de-icing granules. The impact of the de-icing liquid would be too short-lived. But when the temperature is in plus degrees, and there’s no rain, then we spray the liquid. We don’t use the chemicals much, though, mostly we just plough and blow the strip dry with the big machines,” Maido explains.

The airport also reconstructed its runway and extended its passenger terminal to be able to service more passengers. The drive towards more passengers has meant more work for people like Maido, who also drives the bus that takes passengers from the terminal to the aircraft and back.

Maido had been working in highway maintenance for seven years, helping keep Estonian roads clear of snow and ice. But another company won the government tender and Maido had to find a new job. Despite his extensive experience driving buses, trucks, and ploughs, he still had to retrain on the job.

“You can’t get by without continuously learning new things. There are certain rules and restrictions in airports. A traffic sign is a traffic sign, but the aircraft always has right of way. So you have to pass special exams before being hired,” Maido says.

He was very happy to find a job that allows working in shifts – doing night-shifts and day-shifts allows him to take days off to go out of the city for several days at a time to take care of his elderly parents and the family farm.

These responsibilities also mean that although Maido regularly drives thousands of passengers to their flights, he has never flown on a plane himself.

“I did travel, driving buses and trucks in my earlier years, but I’ve never flown. I definitely would like to try it one day, but I need to take care of my parents, drive them to the doctors’, take them to the store,” he explains. “One can dream, but I don’t see it happening right now.”

Maido’s job at Tallinn Airport is helping him take care of his responsibilities. It is also one of hundreds of thousands created with the support of the EU bank.  By 2021, investments signed by the EIB Group in 2017 alone are expected to have raised EU GDP by 1.1% and to have created 1.2 million jobs.  Even in 2036, there will still be a 0.7% increase in EU GDP as a result of the EIB's 2017 investments, as well as 650,000 extra jobs. Jobs as critical as keeping airstrips clear of snow and sleet.