joins Ryanair, Finnair, SAS and airBaltic for Tampere Aviation Forum II to learn all about Scandinavia’s largest inland city

SAS Finnair Ryanair airBaltic Tampere

Anders Wahlström, ‎Head of Sales Sweden & Finland, SAS; Sebastian Risku, Senior Client Manager, Finnair; Jonathan Ford, Assistant Editor,; Aoivean Brennan, Route Development Manager, Ryanair; and Wolfgang Reuss, SVP Network Management, airBaltic, all attended the Tampere Aviation Forum II on 1 December to learn about the Finnish city’s regional development plans. The airlines also gave their view on the importance of developing the Tampere region and how the area is important to their retrospective airline networks.

On 1 December attended the Tampere Aviation Forum II. The theme of the event was to discuss topics including the growth of air transport and how it affects regional development, more specifically, how it can contribute to the improvement of Finland’s economy. Along with this, delegates attending the forum learnt how Tampere is is developing into a ‘Smart City’ – which is defined by Smart Cities Projects as: “When investments in human and social capital and traditional (transport) and modern (ICT) communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory action and engagement.” Along with this, the forum showcased the importance of regional air connectivity to this part of Finland, with examples of other regions in Europe benefiting from air connectivity, such as Norway and the Azores. Including, and many regional bodies and businesses, the four serving airlines of Tampere also attended the forum – SAS (Stockholm Arlanda), Finnair (Helsinki and Kittilä), Ryanair (Bremen and Budapest) and airBaltic, which from 26 March will commence a six times weekly connection between Tampere and Riga.

In 2015 Tampere welcomed just over 357,000 passengers, however during the past year traffic is down, a result of issues between Ryanair and national authorities, resulting in routes to Alicante, Frankfurt Hahn, London Stansted, Malaga and Milan/Bergamo not operating in the same way they did in 2015. Nonetheless, it is hoped that an agreement (in the not too distant future) will allow for growth again from the Irish ULCC.  The airport is expecting to see an increase in traffic in 2017, helped by airBaltic’s new service, with the airline designing its schedule to allow for the best connections from its Riga hub, meaning that the Q400 that will operate the route will night-stop in Tampere.

Growing Tampere

By 2030, the Tampere central area is expected to welcome approximately 15,000 new jobs, helping contribute to a 23% rise in the population of the central zone. This means that by 2030, Tampere, including its outer regions, will have a population of 563,000 (63,000 more than today’s level), while as of 2016 3.7 million Finns live within a two-hour drive of Tampere. In 2012, the GDP per capita in the Tampere region was €34,000, which represents 96% of the Finnish average and 130% of the EU average. Housing production in the region is also booming, with production between 2015 and 2017 being 1,800 dwellings per year.

In 2016, Tampere will welcome five million annual passengers via rail, while major investments in the city’s tram and public highway system are also being made. Last month, the Rantaväylä Tunnel was completed, easing congestion between the East and West sides of the city. Tampere is also making improvements to its urban outdoor spaces and increasing green areas in the city, helping to make sure that its expansion is eco-friendly. Other developments in the city over the next few decades include a new arena, travel and service centre, plus housing and business premises in areas called the Southern Deck and Northern Deck. Overall by 2030 around €10 billion will be invested in Tampere, with an estimated 7-15% return on capital investment.

SAS aircraft Tampere

Welcome to a snowy Tampere.’s journey to Scandinavia’s largest inland city involved flying SAS from London Heathrow via Stockholm Arlanda, with a few people from London connecting onto flight SK4246 to Tampere on the evening of 29 November. The aircraft from the Swedish capital to the Finnish city was an ATR 72-600 operated by Flybe. The SAS route between Arlanda and Tampere is flown four times daily year-round on this aircraft type, while Finnair operates a five-to-six times daily link to Helsinki, also on ATRs operated by Nordic Regional Airlines.

Speakers of Tampere Aviation Forum II

Some of the speakers taking part in the Tampere Aviation Forum II included: Mikko Paronen, MD of Patria Pilot Training; Wolfgang Reuss, SVP Network Management, airBaltic; Annabelle Lepièce, Partner, Head of Competition, CMS Belgium; Mikko Komi, Key Account & Business Development Manager, Finavia; Tom Ronell, CEO, Ronell Aviation; Thomas Hedburg, Aviation Industry Analyst, IATA; Sebastian Risku, Senior Client Manager, Finnair; Anders Wahlström, ‎Head of Sales Sweden & Finland, SAS; Tuomas Kankaala, Key Account Manager,Global Corporate and Agency Sales, SAS; and Simon McNamara, Director General, European Regions Airline Association (ERA).

The first speaker of the day was Teppo Rantanen, Executive Director, City of Tampere. Rantanen spoke of how the city is planning to develop by 2030, including new housing schemes and what to expect from Tampere with regards to its industrial sector. “Our aim is to be the smartest city in the world, with a vision to be internationally-recognised. The mission is to drive a thriving and collaborative smart Tampere ecosystem. Factors helping us achieve this goal include our three universities which will be combined into one institute. Together the three have 36,000 students, and we are hoping to keep as many in the region as we can,” informed Rantanen.

Tom Ronell, CEO of Ronell Aviation, was the second speaker of the day and also the host of the forum. Ronell looked back at how aviation has developed during the past few years and how it is a lifeline for cities such as Tampere. One of the issues discussed was how passenger traffic at the airport has declined recently, due to Ryanair withdrawing some of its routes from the region. However Ronell showcased the power of the LCC and how it stimulates markets, highlighting that Tampere does indeed have a strong market for carriers. Interestingly Ronell informed the local businesses attending the forum of the potential of Tampere Airport’s infrastructure, informing that an A320-sized aircraft is capable of reaching Tenerife and Dubai from the region, while future aircraft technology could mean that destinations as far as Boston could be reached. Finally Ronell moved onto how Tampere needs to develop and instigate an air service development strategy which correctly defines and values Tampere’s domestic and international markets, including a study to map out the leakage and spoilage to Helsinki, whether that be by air, rail or road.

Annabelle Lepièce, Partner, Head of Competition, CMS Belgium, was the third speaker of the day. Lepièce is particularly active in the airport and air transport sector, offering legal advice on all aspects of European law relating to the industry such as public financing, handling, airport charges, security and safety. Within her presentation, Lepièce spoke about the importance of state aid to regional airports and the European Commission’s (EC) measures that satisfy all the criteria listed in Article 107 of the TFEU, which is defined as: ‘Safe as otherwise provided in the Treaties, any aid granted by a Member State or through State resources in any form whatsoever which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain undertakings or the production of certain goods shall, in so far as it affects trade between Member States, be incompatible with the common market’. With this definition in mind, Lepièce then spoke of the evolution of the EC practice in the air transport sector, and how route development is practiced under the EU framework.

Simon McNamara, Director General, European Regional Airlines Association (ERA), was the fourth speaker of the day. “There is a huge interest in regional connectivity,” commented McNamara during his presentation. “Together the airline members of ERA operate 600 aircraft and the traffic carried equals to one of Europe’s big five – Ryanair, easyjet, Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa, SWISS, Brussels Airlines etc), Air France-KLM and IAG (British Airways, Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus). McNamara spoke of ERA’s extensive network across Europe and gave case studies of how regional airlines, including Binter Canarias, SATA International and Widerøe all provide important networks to support regional airports in the Canaries, Azores and Norway. He also spoke of how consolidation is leading to strengthened competition, and talked about how eventually there maybe just one airline serving Europe. This trend is also leading to the growing demand of ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance) operators, with McNamara giving Flybe’s operation in Tampere for SAS as an example. “70% of ERA members are ACMI operators, and it is a growing business model for large airlines to incorporate regional carriers into their business strategies,” noted McNamara. Also in his presentation were the key factors that airlines look at when analysing new route opportunities, and concluded on the importance of remoter regions, such as Tampere, being heavily reliant on air transport.

Once the presentations had taken place, it was time for the four serving airlines of Tampere – SAS, Finnair, Ryanair and soon-to-be airBaltic – to take part in the airline discussion to give their corporations view points on regional development work. Representing SAS was Anders Wahlström, ‎Head of Sales Sweden & Finland. Sebastian Risku, Senior Client Manager, Finnair, was in Tampere to give the view of Finland’s national carrier, while Aoivean Brennan, Route Development Manager, Ryanair; and Wolfgang Reuss, SVP Network Management, airBaltic, represented the airport’s remaining two carriers. “The main thing the region needs to do is to create the ideal economic conditions for us to operate. This how we are able to stimulate the market, by being able to offer the people in the region the lowest fares,” explained Brennan. “Although our strategy currently is focusing on major cities, we are still focused and can continue to grow from regional cities.” Next summer the airline will serve Tampere from Bremen and Budapest. “We are focusing on Finland and indeed Tampere. Working closely with our wet-lease carriers we are able to grow further into regions including Tampere, this is why our agreement with Flybe has allowed us to add 40% more seats into this region,” informed Wahlström. “It is about getting the balance between cost and new volumes correct, which in turn will allow further business potential.” Brennan added to the issue of Tampere and its geographical region. “What is challenging about Tampere is its location. For Ryanair, although we may be able to sell 189 seats from here to Malaga, why as an airline would we fly a five-hour sector between the two cities when we can use the same aircraft for multiple frequencies between London and Dublin,” implied Brennan. McNamara also commented: “One thing that is vital for developing air services is to get the right relationship between airline and airport. Once you get that correct, the rest should follow.”

After the airline discussion, a presentation was then given by Thomas Hedburg, Aviation Industry Analyst, IATA. Hedburg is stationed at IATA’s Stockholm office, and before joining IATA he worked for Finnair. Hedburg’s presentation focused on the state of the industry globally as well as in Scandinavia, and he gave his forecasts to how the future of aviation will look in the region, and how its rate of growth compares to other regions in the world. One of the interesting facts of Hedburg’s presentation was that since 1995, the number of unique city pairs in the world has risen from around 2,000 to just under 18,000 last year, highlighting how the aviation sector has evolved into new markets during the past 20 years. Another fact revealed was how areas of Asia are investing heavily in aviation, however parts of Europe, giving the case of Heathrow’s third runway as an example, were showing how Europe’s chronic indecision to expand aviation was crippling its growth. “The Chinese government is investing nearly $240 billion in the aviation sector over the next decade, including the development of 82 new airports, however after 30 years we are still deciding whether Heathrow needs a third runway,” implied Hedburg.'s Jonathan Ford would like to thank’s Jonathan Ford would like to thank Marja Aalto, Director Air Transport Development, Tampere Region Economic Development Agency, and Mikko Komi, Key Account & Business Development Manager, Finavia, for allowing him to come to the Tampere Aviation Forum II and discover the best of Scandinavia’s largest inland city, and to learn about what the city as a whole is attempting to do in order to improve air service connections.

While discovering the sights of Tampere,’s Ford came across this advert, located in the heart of the city’s central square, which highlights the connections currently available from Tampere Airport. The AiRRport (Air, Road and Rail) is designed to show how the city is planning to bring all transport systems together to create a central transport hub in Tampere.


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