Friday 9/24/21

Covid-19 restrictions pushed air passenger traffic to a new decline

The jobs of some 20,000 people who work at Helsinki airport are now in danger, says the CEO of Finavia.

Helsinki airport and air traffic control tower. Photo: Finavia.
Helsinki airport and air traffic control tower. Photo: Finavia.

The passenger volume of Finnish airports fell by 90% in September compared to the previous year. The decline in passenger volume at Helsinki Airport was even sharper at 92%, says Finavia, the country's main airport operator.

The number of international transfer passengers at Helsinki Airport fell by as much as 95% compared to September last year. Transfer travel is very significant to Finland, as each transfer passenger brings income and jobs to Finland and helps create new flight connections both domestically and internationally.

“There is no end in sight for the difficulties faced by the aviation industry. Helsinki Airport’s position as a hub for air travel between Asia and Europe and as a significant European airport is at risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Finavia CEO Kimmo Mäki.

According to Mäki, Finavia’s airports served flights to 200 direct destinations around the world a year ago. The situation is now completely different. The airports have gone quiet and there is practically only one country of restriction-free travel between Finland and the rest of Europe at present.

“Unfortunately, the recovery of air traffic in Finland is lagging behind the rest of Europe to a considerable extent,” Mäki points out.

Jobs at risk

“Some 20,000 people work at Helsinki Airport, employed by about 1,500 different companies. Their jobs are now at risk. The situation also concerns the other people who work in the travel industry in Finland. The industry employs some 140,000 people across the country,” Mäki says with concern.

Air traffic and the travel industry are engines of the Finnish economy. They represent nearly 3% of Finland’s GDP.

The aviation industry also has significant cascade effects on other sectors, including services, transport and construction. The volume of air freight passing through Finavia’s airports declined by 55% in September.