Sunday March 07, 2021

Finland extends UK, Ireland, SA flights suspension until 25 Jan

Published : 16 Jan 2021, 02:08

Updated : 16 Jan 2021, 11:10

  DF Report

Helsinki Airport. File Photo Finavia.

Finland on Friday decided to continue the suspension of flights to and from United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa until 25 January, following the emergence of a highly infectious variant of coronavirus, said the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom) in a press release.

Traficom took the decision following a recommendation made by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

The decision, however, does not concern overflights, technical intermediate stops, ferry flights with own crew, state aviation, ambulance flights, or cargo flights.

In an opinion issued on Friday, the THL noted that the reasons it had previously given in justification of the suspension of air services between Finland and the United Kingdom, Ireland, and South Africa have not substantially changed.

The variant of the coronavirus detected in these countries, whose potential for transmission is currently estimated to be higher than that of the previously identified variants, has continued to spread and a number of cases have already been reported among travellers arriving in Finland.

While health security measures at airports have been reinforced, it is not yet possible to fully assess the seriousness of the threat posed by the variant with regard to the spread of the virus in Finland or the capability of the measures to minimise that threat.

Earlier, on 21 December, Finland decided to suspend all flights to and from the United Kingdom for two weeks until 4 January and later, on 2 January, extended the suspension until 11 January, following the emergence of a highly infectious variant of coronavirus there.

On 8 January, Finland decided to continue the suspension of flights to and from the United Kingdom until 18 January. Finland also decided to suspend all flights to and from Ireland and South Africa from 11 January to 18 January.

In a risk assessment published on 29 December 2020, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said the new COVID-19 variant detected in the UK is transmitted significantly more rapidly than the earlier strains of the virus.