Finland’s northern airports see big growth


Passengers board a Finnair plane at the Ivalo Airport in Finnish Lapland. (Atle Staalesen / The Independent Barents Observer)
Passengers board a Finnair plane at the Ivalo Airport in Finnish Lapland. (Atle Staalesen / The Independent Barents Observer)

Finavia, Finland’s aviation agency, reports a growth in passengers to Lapland more than double the country’s average.

For the first nine months of 2017 Ivalo airport had an increase of 21.2 percent, Rovaniemi 20.1 percent and Kittilä with 30.9 percent. The average for all airports in Finland, including Helsinki, was 8.4 percent, according to Finavia’s passenger statistics.

Tourism is now Lapland’s most important business with travelers from Europe and Asia flying in to discover the nature of the north. Last year, air traffic to Finland’s three northernmost airports surpassed 1 million passengers.

[Changes in the Arctic are driving more tourists to visit]

The growth comes after several airlines since 2015 have started direct flights between Europe and Lapland. Lufthansa was first, but now other companies like Finnair, Germania and Norwegian have seasonal direct flights from cities like London, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Zurich and Amsterdam.

For the winter season 2017-2018, Finnair launches five new routes to Lapland, starting in December and January. The once and twice weekly flights are Frankfurt-Kittilä, Paris-Kittilä, London-Ivalo, Berlin-Rovaniemi and Zurich-Kittilä.

A challenge for the growth in tourism has been lack of beds. Last December had a 31 percent growth in registered overnights by foreign tourists, Visit Rovaniemi said. For this season, another 500 bed places are added to the capacity with new hotels next to Santa Claus visitor parks.

Additionally, Finnair and Norwegian add more flights from Helsinki to the airports in Lapland. That gives another boost to passenger traffic, especially flying in more tourists arriving to Helsinki from destinations in Asia.