Finavia seeks easing travel restrictions to get recovery

19 Jul 2021, 10:28

  DF Report by Lisa Koenig

Helsinki Airport. Photo: Finavia.

Finavia, the company that operates Finland’s airports, has urged the government to ease travel restrictions as fast as other European countries did to stay competitive internationally.

The Covid-19 pandemic adversely impacted the aviation industry and when the pandemic was the worst, the number of passengers at Finavia’s airports dropped by 98 percent compared with the corresponding period in 2019, sources in Finavia said.

“It appears that it will take years before air traffic becomes normal. We believe that the industry will recover gradually. But until internal and external border traffic restrictions are lifted, we will not see a fast recovery,” Katja Siberg, Finavia’s Senior Vice-President, told the Daily Finland.

The company rolled out a cost-cutting program in spring 2020 to reduce the costs by 200 million euros for survival during the crisis.

Personnel were also temporarily laid off mostly during the spring and the summer of 2020, depending on how much air traffic was going on at each airport.

Now from January to June 2021, numbers show some improvement but it is still a long way to go back to the pre-Covid level.

Siberg said that the airport in Helsinki has an outstanding position in the Finland tourism and connects Finns with destinations all around the world. Finavia, which operates 20 airports in Finland, therefore, continued the Helsinki Airport development program even throughout the epidemic, hoping that the number of passengers will grow again.

“The only way to retain Helsinki Airport’s position as an important hub between Europe and Asia is a quick exit from the crisis,” Siberg said. “This is important for Finland’s competitiveness and this is why Finland should lift the travel restrictions at the same pace other EU countries did.”

Siberg describes the national easing of travel restrictions from June 21 as a step in the right direction.

“We are happy to see that some travel restrictions have been lifted. Finland must open alongside the rest of the European Union to ensure that the aviation and travel industries recover from the pandemic,” said Finavia’s senior vice-president.

Finland’s new entry model allows normal travels to Finland from countries with less than 25 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 citizens in the past 14 days, which is a requirement stricter than in other EU countries.

Finavia implemented, Siberg said, health and safety measures and changes in the processes to make travel safe and smooth. Travelers need to stick to basic safety rules as wearing masks, keeping distance from other passengers and good hand and coughing hygiene.

“We believe that many travelers are ready to fly again. We are ready to serve all passengers at our airports. We have invested heavily in operations and services to create an environment in which passengers feel safe to travel and the staff feel safe to work. This has been reflected in positive results from ongoing customer surveys,” Siberg added.