The new entrance to Helsinki Airport will open to the public in December (illustration: Finavia)

It takes between 1 hour 45 minutes and two hours to drive the 170 km from Helsinki-Vantaa Airport to Turku, Finland’s third largest city. Tampere, the country’s second largest city, takes about the same amount of time for a 175 km journey. Yet there have always been flights from Helsinki to both cities. They are probably among the shortest air routes in Europe.

In the context of global warming, Finnair has decided to follow the example ofAir France

and Lufthansa. The Finnish airline will transfer some flights from these two domestic routes to the road.

Finnair has suspended these domestic routes to these two cities since March 2020. It has announced that it will resume its flights to Turku and Tampere in 2022. These routes are normally served by ATR-72s, but will be supplemented by bus services from the summer of 2022. In this way, the company wants to make a greater contribution to reducing its carbon footprint.

“Turku and Tampere are an important part of our network. These routes focus on international connections. We therefore want to continue to offer the best range of connections to customers in these regions,” says Perttu Jolma, Vice President of Traffic Planning at Finnair. “The combination of different modes of transport is an important tool for reducing carbon emissions. It is also in line with Finland’s national emission reduction targets.”

A 35-minute air journey

The planned duration of the flights to Turku and Tampere reaches 35 minutes. In reality, however, the flight itself is barely 25 minutes. Such flights are usually only made in areas where the terrain is difficult to navigate. Or when flights cross maritime areas or mountains. This is not really the case for Helsinki-Tampere and Helsinki-Turku – except when there is heavy snowfall on the motorways.

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“We want to offer travellers the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint by choosing a bus connection. We guarantee the connection to the final destination, even if the bus connection is disrupted,” explains Jolma.

According to a study based on Finnair’s customer data, the majority of people departing from Turku or Tampere have already used a non-air connection to arrive at Helsinki Airport in 2019, when flights were operated with several daily frequencies. A smooth bus connection offers an opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions also for customers who would travel to Helsinki Airport by car.

The bi

Tickets for flights from Turku and Tampere can be booked on Tickets for bus connections will go on sale later in the spring of 2022 and will only be available with a connecting flight. The bus stops will include Tampere and Turku airports as well as the city centres of both cities.

Modest recovery in air traffic since July

Air traffic in Finland is recovering moderately even though the airport authority Finavia has noted an improvement since July. The country recorded 2.57 million passengers at all its airports, including 2.07 million at Helsinki, between January and September 2021. This is a decrease of 56% and 55% respectively compared to 2020. From January to September 2020, Helsinki had recorded 4.64 million passengers. In the same period of 2019, the Finnair hub had accounted for 16.67 million.

Despite this significant decline, the airport authorities are continuing the expansion work at Helsinki-Vantaa launched in 2017. In December, they will open the airport’s new main gate. Giving access to Terminal 2, it is accompanied by a new multi-modal travel centre and a new arrivals hall. The entire Terminal 2 will open in the summer of 2022.