Christmas flights require close cooperation
Last weekend almost 50 Christmas flights landed at Rovaniemi Airport, in addition to the normal scheduled aircraft. Careful planning is essential for the airport to function smoothly and many operations have to work seamlessly together. If one section falls down it means congestion at the next stage.
Air Traffic Control takes care of the planes
Almost all Christmas flights land (and correspondingly take off) within a one and a half hour period, which means a plane every 5 minutes, on average. Northern Finland regional air traffic control takes care of aircraft en route while approach control organizes the planes for landing at Kittilä and Enontekiö as well as Rovaniemi. The control tower makes sure that any aircraft have left the runway before the next is given permission to land. Prevailing weather conditions also play a major part in the way all the pieces fit together at this stage.
Maintenance team looks after the airport
The task of the maintenance team is primarily to ensure that the runway is fit for landing and that taxi-ways are operational. The team is also responsible for parking, and indeed, one of the biggest challenges posed by the Christmas flights is parking the aeroplanes. Since space is not exactly abundant, a ?Follow Me? car directs the planes after landing to their proper places in the order of their arrival and departure times. Even while they are being parked they are already thinking about takeoff. Whether this happens punctually depends on such things as where the plane is parked and whether all the passengers are aboard on time so that de-icing can begin. Fire services too, must always be at the ready.
Terminals make for smooth passenger flows
Planning for the December timetable begins the previous summer. Particular attention has been paid in recent years to the adaptability of the Rovaniemi terminal. One of the ways to control large passenger flows more flexibly has been to set up an extra check-in point. For arrivals and departures to go smoothly it is also necessary for the travel organizers to cooperate with each other so that they do not all bring their passengers to the terminal at the same time.
Aircraft crews also need back up
When aircraft land, their crew need transport to a place where they can rest. At Rovaniemi, the Airpro company supplies crew transportation and necessary equipment, and takes care of check-in for a number of companies, as well as lost luggage handling and so on. Airpro is also involved in flight preparations, ordering up de-icing equipment and delivering the weather report packs drawn up by the flight information officers to the aircraft captains.
Extra manpower is also necessary to keep machinery functioning and to ensure that passport checks go smoothly, which is one of the duties of the Border Guard Service. Naturally, extra staff are needed to man sales outlets and cafes, and there must also be goods to sell.
Christmas flights keep Lapland busy
The latest estimates are that some 525 charter flights will arrive at northern Finnish airports from abroad, bringing in about 105,000 tourists. Rovaniemi is the busiest airport for Christmas flights, where 246 charters are expected to arrive. Kittilä will take 164, Ivalo 65 and Enontekiö about 50 charters.
Most of the Christmas passengers come from Britain, but there are also direct flights from Milan, Paris, Hungary and Ireland.