Finland airport traffic up 3% so far this year after 16% growth in 2011; regional airports lead route launches in 2012

As Finnair continues to grow its Europe-Asia hub in Helsinki, the Finnish capital airport’s passenger numbers are on the rise. Chongqing is the national carrier’s latest Asian destination, but Helsinki also gets increased regional feed through the establishment of Flybe Nordic at the end of last year.

Despite covering an area almost the size of Germany, Finland has a population of only just over five million people, making it the most sparsely populated country in the EU. With the majority of the population located in the south of the country, it is no surprise that the country’s main airport at Helsinki dominates Finnish aviation. Between 1998 and 2003, passenger numbers remained virtually unchanged but between 2003 and 2008, demand rose by almost one-third. Passenger numbers fell by almost 8% in 2009 before recovering by 2% in 2010. However, last year saw traffic rise by an impressive 16% to a new record of 19 million passengers across all Finnish airports.

Finnish airport traffic 1998-2011 Annual passengers (millions)

Source: Finavia

Helsinki’s share of the country’s air traffic has actually increased from 72% in 1998 to 78% in 2011, as Finnair continues to attract connecting traffic, in particular on flights from Europe to Asia. So far in the first seven months, passenger numbers have risen by a further 2.9%, although last month (July) demand fell by 4.3%. One of the reasons for this may be the collapse of Air Finland in June, a carrier that specialised in seasonal leisure routes to the Mediterranean.

Denmark, Spain and Sweden growing fast

International traffic to and from Finland between January and July is up 3.2% overall. However, of the top 15 country markets, passenger numbers are down on nine of them. However, where there has been growth it has been impressive; Denmark up 28.6%, Spain up 27.8%, Sweden up 13.9% and China up 8.9%.

Top 15 Finnish country markets Change in passengers in January to July 2012 (Total passengers January to July 2012 - millions)

Source: Finavia

Based on schedule data for August, Finnair remains by far the dominant carrier on international flights with over 55% of the market. Norwegian, which opened a base in Helsinki in March 2011, comes a distant second, operating 18 routes from Helsinki and three from other airports. SAS-owned Blue1 with its fleet of nine 717s comes third, operating mostly to other Nordic countries

Top 12 airlines in Finland Weekly departing seats on international flights (Weekly departures from Finnish airports)

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 6 August 2012

Ryanair’s 17 routes are spread across three airports; Tampere with 11, Turku with four and Lappeenranta with two. Although Wizz Air operates a couple of routes from Turku, other major low-cost airlines, like easyJet, germanwings, Pegasus and Vueling, are notably absent from the Finnish market.

UK regional carrier Flybe now has a Helsinki-based subsidiary, Flybe Nordic, which operates a number of services on behalf of Finnair as well as having a presence in the domestic market. The only domestic route on which there is genuine competition is between Helsinki and Oulu, which is served by Blue1, Finnair and Norwegian.

No other airports with more than one million passengers

While Helsinki handles almost 15 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.

Top 10 other Finnish airports Annual passengers in 2011 (millions)

Source: Finavia

Last year, the fastest-growing of these were Lappeenranta (+90.3%), Oulu (+39.1%) and Rovaniemi (+28.1%).

Regional airports benefit most from this year’s new route launches

Since the beginning of the year, has identified almost 30 new services that have been started from Finnish airports. Helsinki only accounts for 11 new services while Finland’s regional airports have generated a healthy 16 new services from carriers such as Blue1, Estonian Air, Norwegian and Ryanair. The following table summarises the new services launched so far in 2012, revealing why the Danish and Swedish markets have performed so well this year.

Launch date From To Country Airline WF
25 March Vaasa Copenhagen Denmark Blue1 7
25 March Oulu Copenhagen Denmark Blue1 4
25 March Kokkola Stockholm Arlanda Sweden Blue1 12
25 March Oulu Stockholm Arlanda Sweden Blue1 5
25 March Pori Stockholm Arlanda Sweden Blue1 11
25 March Jyväskylä Tallinn Estonia Estonian Air 7
25 March Helsinki Düsseldorf Germany Lufthansa 7
26 March Joensuu Tallinn Estonia Estonian Air 4
26 March Helsinki Tallinn Estonia Estonian Air 18
27 March Turku Brussels Charleroi Belgium Ryanair 3
27 March Tampere Budapest Hungary Ryanair 3
29 March Tampere Palma de Mallorca Spain Ryanair 1
2 April Helsinki Dubrovnik Croatia Finnair 3
3 April Kajaani Tallinn Estonia Estonian Air 4
3 April Turku London Stansted United Kingdom Ryanair 3
4 April Turku Malaga Spain Ryanair 2
6 April Turku Girona Spain Ryanair 2
13 Apri Vaasa Stockholm Arlanda Sweden Norwegian 2
20 April Helsinki Paris Orly France Norwegian 3
9 May Helsinki Chongqing China Finnair 4
27 May Helsinki Palma de Mallorca Spain Norwegian 2
1 June Lappeenranta Copenhagen Denmark Blue1 4
2 June Helsinki Bologna Italy Blue1 1
2 June Helsinki Budapest Hungary Blue1 1
3 June Helsinki Berlin Tegel Germany Lufthansa 7
24 June Helsinki Corfu Greece Norwegian 1
25 June Helsinki Rhodes Greece Norwegian 1
Source: new route database


  1. Peter says:

    ACI Europe in first most important month June strong 4,1% decline in Finland airports traffic.
    For July and August could be similar results.
    And if we compare 2011
    Passengers: 14.9 million
    Landings: 95,312
    is far behind Stockholm ARN
    Passengers: 19.1 million
    Landings: 106,428
    Which means that with 10% more flights, airlines carries 30% more PAX

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