Finnair aircraft at Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Southern Finland, on 30 March 2023. The Finnish majority state-owned carrier has decided to discontinue its flights from Helsinki to Turku and Tampere, citing economic and environmental considerations stemming from the routes’ low passenger load factors. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

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FINNAIR on Wednesday announced its decision to discontinue flights to Turku and Tampere as of 1 May 2023.

The Finnish majority state-owned airline revealed that the flights – the shortest in its domestic route network – will be replaced with coach services primarily because of the economic and environmental issues arising from their low passenger load factors, around 35 per cent.

The airline had previously replaced its midday flights to the two cities with coach services in an attempt to slash the carbon dioxide emissions on the routes.

Perttu Jolma, a director at Finnair, said the low passenger volumes mean the flights produce more carbon dioxide emissions per passenger than many other short routes in the network, making road and rail transport the more sustainable connection between these cities and Helsinki Airport.

The flights have scheduled flight times of roughly 35 minutes, with the actual flight time 10 minutes shorter.

“Globally, flights as short as these are usually not flown except for regions where the terrain is rough and the flights go over a sea area or mountainous terrain, for example,” the airline said in its press release.

Minna Arve (NCP), the mayor of Turku, told YLE on Wednesday that she was surprised by the “short-sighted” decision even though the flights had “clearly” been of secondary importance to the airline for several years.

“The flights have often been cancelled and trust in the company has thereby eroded for a long time,” she said. “We at Turku Airport continue to have good connections with Air Baltic, Wizz Air and SAS.”

People fly from Turku to Helsinki specifically due to transfer connections.

“This is a very short-sided position to take specifically in the sense that Finland is an island. We have limited fixed connections to Europe, and we’re far from the world. We’re now strengthening our western connections, also from other localities than Helsinki. Helsinki Airport is very important for the growing urban regions, and in that sense discussion about the profitability of short flights is possibly misguided,” she argued to YLE.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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