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Photo: Finavia

Air traffic boom slows in Finland

The year began very strongly for Finnish airports, but the monthly stats reveal an abrupt slowdown in September.

Passenger volumes at Finavia’s airports increased by 11% in the first nine months of 2018 to 18.7 million passengers, the Finnish airport operator’s latest stats show. But monthly figures for the year so far show a marked slowdown.

Finnish airports’ comparable revenues rose 10.4% during January-September to €275.9 million, while operating profit without extraordinary items increased 5.9% to €51.8 million.

A “strong global economic situation and trends continue to support growth,” Finavia said about the results.

Passenger volume growth has been boosted by airlines’ rising capacity, with the increasing size of the average aircraft and new routes in Europe being reflected in the passenger flow.

International traffic has grown faster at Helsinki Airport so far in 2018 than at other airports in the Nordic region and in much of the rest of Europe, Finavia points out.

The number of international passengers in Helsinki during the nine-month period was up 11.6%, compared for example to 3.9% in Copenhagen and 2.4% in Stockholm. The number of transit passengers in Helsinki increased by 23.9%.

Downward trend
Overall in Finland, domestic passengers were up 8.6% to 4.3 million. Internationally, long-haul traffic rose 20.2% to 2.6 million, EU traffic increased 8.8% to 10.1 million and non-EU Europe rose 17.8% to 1.66 million, bringing the total international passengers up 11.7% to 14.4 million.

As for the remainder of the year, “the operating environment seems to remain stable and the passenger volumes of Finavia’s airports for the whole year are expected to increase,” says Kimmo Mäki, Finavia CEO.

However, the stats for the year so far clearly show a slowdown in the passenger growth, from a peak increase of 13.2% in March to just 6.7% in September.

The trend can be seen in both domestic traffic, down from a growth rate of 21.7% in July to 1.3% in September, and international traffic, which fell from 15.4% in March to 8.3% in September.

Airport investment
Development projects both at HEL and in Finland’s other airports are proceeding as planned, Mäki assures, while “we have continued to focus particularly on upholding a first-rate customer experience”.

At Helsinki Airport, preparatory works for the expansion of the departure and arrival halls of Terminal 2 began in the third quarter, with the new building scheduled to be completed in 2022.

And the first phase of a €55 million investment programme in Lapland’s airports will be completed by Christmas, with the entire investment programme expected to be finished by the end of 2019.

The biggest development and renovation programme in the history of the Tampere-Pirkkala Airport was completed in August, in which the air traffic infrastructure was renovated and expanded in a €15 million project.

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