Northern Scandinavia sees new air routes, as tourism begins to resume

New flights are being added to London, Milan — and even Thailand.

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - November 3, 2021
Passengers in Oulu, Finland board a flight for Tromsø, Norway. (Thomas Nilsen / The Independent Barents Observer)

Despite concerns of a long-term post-pandemic hangover affecting tourism, airports in Arctic Europe are seeing some connectivity restored, with new flights being added from the region to London, Milan and even Thailand.

“We are truly pleased for the newly announced route by easyJet,” says Sanna Kärkkäinen, Director of Visit Rovaniemi. The low-cost airline starts twice-weekly flights directly from Milan, Italy this winter.

“Italy is a significant market for our Christmas season,” Kärkkäinen says.

EasyJet is not the only airline to bring tourists back to the airport located on the Arctic Circle in Finland. Air France will also fly two times a week from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to Rovaniemi starting in early December.

After nearly two years of partial lockdown, international tourism is again looking north — although not at the peak levels seen before the outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020. In 2019, the number of overnight stays in Rovaniemi was 600,000, an increase of over 12 percent from the previous year.

Visit Rovaniemi estimates that the loss as a result of the visitors from China alone to be €50 to €70 million last season.

Also, northern Sweden sees new direct routes opening up to destinations in southern Europe. German low-cost carrier Eurowings is launching direct flights from Stuttgart to both Luleå and Kiruna this winter.

In terms of international guest nights, Germans were the second largest nationality in northern Sweden before the pandemic, with attractions such as the Northern Lights and the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi ranking high.

In northern Norway, Tromsø will this winter have direct flights to London (by Norwegian and Wizz Air), Frankfurt and München (by Lufthansa) and Gdansk (Wizz Air) in addition to the Nordic capitals Helsinki, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

For people living in the North that want to explore sunny, faraway destinations this winter, charter operator TUI just announced a direct flight from Skellefteå, northern Sweden to Krabi and Phuket in Thailand, which opened for vaccinated Scandinavian tourists on November 1.