Helsinki dominates Finnish airport traffic; international traffic driving growth

Image: Finnair has looked to develop Helsinki as a specialist hub for flights to Asia
While Helsinki’s domestic traffic has remained virtually flat for the last decade, international traffic has grown by 66% as Finnair has looked to develop Helsinki as a specialist hub for flights to Asia.

100th Edition of anna.aeroBack when anna.aero launched in July 2007 our first ever country profile was Finland. Like the rest of Europe the recent economic downturn has impacted Finland as well, but last year Helsinki’s airport traffic was still up by 2.6% to a record 13.43 million, driven by a 5% growth in international traffic. According to Finavia statistics Helsinki’s share of Finnish airport traffic continues to climb. In 1998 the capital airport handled 72.1% of the nation’s commercial air passengers but last year this had increased to an even more dominant 76.6%.

Chart: Helsinki airport traffic 1998-2008
Source: Finavia

Helsinki’s domestic traffic has remained virtually flat for the last decade while international traffic has grown by 66% as Finnair has looked to develop Helsinki as a specialist hub for flights to Asia.

Chart: Finnish airport traffic
Source: Finavia

Seasonality is less of an issue at Finnish airports than possibly anywhere else in Europe. Traffic in the peak month of March is just 20% higher than in the quietest month. Although traffic is down between 7% and 10% in each of the first six months of 2009 the small monthly variations have remained in tact.

Image: Air Berlin cake
Airberlin launched six-times weekly services from Hamburg to Helsinki on 1 May. Germany and Sweden are Finland’s two largest country markets.

Latvia, Spain and UK markets growing

Although international traffic to and from Finland is down in 12 of the top 15 country markets in the first half of 2009, there are some notable increases. Spain and the UK have both seen modest traffic growth while Latvia (Riga) traffic is up 20% thanks to increase frequencies and capacity from airBaltic. The UK has been helped by the arrival of low-cost services from London Gatwick operated by easyJet.

Chart: Top 15 Finnish country markets
Source: Finavia
Figures in brackets represent passengers (millions) in first six months of 2009.

Finland’s two largest country markets, Germany and Sweden, have seen traffic declines in 2009 of 4.6% and 16.8% respectively. China shows the steepest drop which can partly be explained by Finnair’s axing of its Guangzhou service at the end of last October.

No other airports with more than one million passengers

While Helsinki handles over 13 million annual passengers no other Finnish airport handles more than one million passengers. Oulu and Tampere are the only ones that handle as many as 500,000 passengers. Tampere’s 600,000 international passengers are primarily provided by Ryanair flights serving six destinations (Bremen, Dublin, Frankfurt Hahn, Milan Bergamo, Riga and London Stansted) across Europe. Even though Tampere is less than 150 kilometres from Helsinki airport even Ryanair has not (yet) attempted to market Tampere as Helsinki (north).

Chart: Top 10 other Finnish airports
Source: Finavia

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