By liina.lelmi on 2023-06-27

Jan Palmér, CEO of the Nordic Aviation Group AS, informs the Council of handing over his role to a successor

As of 27.06.2023

Jan Palmér, CEO of the Estonian national airline Nordic Aviation Group AS (NAG), informs of his intention to pass on the leadership of the group by the end of this year, concluding his career after 45 years of experience. Having managed multiple airlines around Europe, Palmer has, for more than ten years, contributed to the Estonian aviation. During his era, two strong, internationally successful airlines – Nordica and Xfly – were built up. The aviation veteran envisions a younger and an energetic person at the helm of the new Estonian airline.

As one of the top executives of the international aviation world, Palmér found his way to Estonia back in autumn 2012 when he was invited to run Estonian Air, the national carrier in dire straits at the time. Palmér’s vast experience allowed him to bring the airline out of the cul de sac to a situation of profitability. Unluckily, state-made investments to the airline before Palmér’s era were subsequently ruled illegal by a 2015 European Commission decision, thus ending the operations of the airline and leaving the market to competition. 

The year 2018 witnessed Palmer appointed as the head of Xfly, a Nordica subsidiary, tasked with providing operating services to its parent company and to other airlines. Under Palmer’s determined leadership, a business model was built up, and the airline grew rapidly, being now one of the best-known brands in the outsourcing niche among major European airlines.

Commenting on the news, Jan Palmér (72) said: “I have been privileged to having had the opportunity of contributing to the development of the aviation sector in Europe for more than two decades. By today, Nordic Aviation Group AS, which operates in the aviation market under two brands Xfly and Nordica, has grown into a sustainable corporation. We are one of the largest outsourcing airline companies in Europe and I believe that when all is well, it is the right time to hand over the baton to perhaps the next generation of leaders. The long-term contracts we have just signed will ensure that the airline has good development opportunities for the years to come. Our good old Estonian airline has been growing very fast in recent years and I see no reason why this should not continue. I am sincerely grateful to the Estonian state for entrusting me with such a responsible position.”

Kristen Michal, the Minister of Economic Affairs, who founded Nordica in 2015, thanked Jan Palmér for maintaining and developing Estonian connections in aviation. “Jan Palmér has been one of the key figures in the creation of Estonian and European connections. His contacts and energy have helped to put the wind under the wings of many air connections that are necessary for the people of Estonia on a daily basis and worthwhile for Nordica. Quality connections are invaluable in defining the economy, security and belonging of a small country. I would like to thank Jan for his great and lasting contribution to the development of air connections between Estonia and Europe.”

The Chairman of the Supervisory Council of Nordic Aviation Group, David O’Brock said, “On behalf of the Supervisory Council, I would like to thank Jan for his years of dedication and steady guiding hand during turbulent times in the industry for the past decade. We look forward to his continued involvement in the group in other capacities.

The council of the national airline and Jan Palmér have agreed that the latter will help prepare the transfer of the company by the end of the year and advise the council on its search for a new leader.

Jan Palmér, who has previously managed airlines such as Cimber, Amapola Flyg, Malmö Aviation, Skyways, has made a contribution to the Estonian aviation hard to overestimate.

As the President of the European Association of Regional Airlines, one of the largest airline umbrella organizations in Europe, he has put the aviation sector of a small country like Estonia onto the maps of Europe and the world. The national airline already operates in eight countries, operating 21 aircraft and employing more than 700 aviation professionals. This makes it the largest airline ever in Estonia. Today, the company is actively recruiting new staff at several bases across Europe, as there is a high level of trust and demand for the services provided by the two brands among Europe’s major airlines.