Competition over the gateway position is intensifyingAir traffic in Europe continues to increase. Helsinki-Vantaa is competing over its position as a gateway to traffic to Asian with other European airports.
According to statistics compiled by the European Organisation for Safety of Air Navigation EUROCONTROL, the number of fl ights in Europe increased by 5.1 per cent compared with 2006 and exceeded 10 million for the first time. There was an average of 27,700 fl ights per day in Europe. Discount airlines accounted for most of the growth, with the number of fl ights by low cost carriers increasing by one quarter from the previous year. The number of business fl ights increased by 10 per cent. Eastern Europe experienced the strongest growth in air traffic.
Air traffic continued to grow in Finland during the year under review. A total of over 17 million passengers passed through Finavia’s airports in 2007. There were nearly one million more passengers than in 2006 (+5.9%). There were 10 per cent more international travellers than in 2006. The number of overfl ights increased while domestic traffic decreased by 9.7 per cent compared with the previous year (+2.7%). The reduction in domestic traffic was mainly due to the reduction in the number of domestic fl ights by airlines, the greater irregularity of domestic fl ights, and the improvement of highway and railway connections. Total air traffic in Finland increased by 1.0 per cent (1.7).
A RECORD NUMBER OF PASSENGERS AT HELSINKI-VANTAAFinland is located in the crossing point of fl ight-paths from Europe to Asia and from India to the United States. Helsinki- Vantaa has become one of the fastest growing gateway airports in Europe. In 2007, the number of passengers at Helsinki- Vantaa Airport exceeded 13 million for the first time. The number of passengers increased by 8 per cent from the previous year.
Air traffic from Finland to Asia increased by no less than 40 per cent during the year under review (departing and transfer passengers). Passengers to Asia numbered 648,000 in 2007, whereas this figure was 462,000 in the previous year. Total traffic between Asia and Finland (departing, arriving and transfer passengers) exceeded 1.28 million (+39%). Germany became the most popular destination in Europe for Finns for the first time. A total of 783,000 departing and transfer passengers travelled to Germany from Finland (+17%). Sweden was in second place with 655,000 departing and transfer passengers (-3%). The third most popular destination in 2007 was Britain, with 468,506 passengers (+3%).
HELSINKI-VANTAA’S GATEWAY POSITION OPENS THE ROUTES TO EUROPEThe traffic between Helsinki-Vantaa and the Far East is important both for Fin avia and all of Finland and its industry and commerce. Thanks to the through-service needed by Asians, Finns also get better air connections to Europe. Helsinki-Vantaa offers more direct connections to Europe than is available to Swedes through Arlanda, for example. Helsinki-Vantaa also has fl ights to more destinations in Asia, more frequently, than other airports in the Nordic countries. The number of gateway travellers, i.e. international transfer passengers arriving from abroad and continuing to a foreign country from Helsinki-Vantaa, increased by 34 per cent and reached 930,000.
The number of gateway passengers to Asia increased in 2007 by a record 51 per cent to 387,000 passengers. In 2007, the most popular destinations in Asia were China (+15%), Thailand (+27%) and Japan (+47%). The most rapid growth in traffic to Asia was to India (+390%) and Hong Kong (+69%).
GROWTH IN TAMPERE-PIRKKALAAfter Helsinki-Vantaa, the next busiest airports were Oulu, Tampere-Pirkkala and Rovaniemi. Oulu had 840,000 passengers during the year under review, although the number of passengers started to decline in March (-1%). Tampere-Pirkkala had almost 690,000 passengers (+9%) and Rovaniemi nearly 450,000 passengers (+4%). Vaasa, Turku and Kuopio each had over 300,000 passengers.
Passenger numbers increased in Tampere-Pirkkala (9%), Kemi-Tornio (9%) and Vaasa (5%). Enontekiö had the greatest increase in passenger numbers (44%) and 95 per cent of all passengers during the year were in one month, December. The total number of passengers in Enontekiö during the year was 25,000. The sharpest falls in passenger numbers were at Varkaus Airport (-81%), where regular traffic was interrupted in March, and Lappeenranta (-53%) where traffic came to a halt from the start of September. Air traffic will resume at both airports during 2008.
ROVANIEMI WAS THE MOST POPULAR AIRPORT IN NORTHERN FINLANDRovaniemi and Kittilä were again the most popular airports for Christmas traffic. Rova niemi had 33,000 departing international passengers during the year under review, and Kittilä had 30,000. The number of Christmas tourist passengers to Enontekiö (12,000) exceeded the level of Ivalo (9,000).
Overall, the number of passengers on international fl ights to Northern Finland did not quite reach the record level achieved in 2006 (-3%), although traffic increased sharply in January (20%) and February (33%) of the year under review. The largest number of international Christmas travellers arrived in Northern Finland from Britain, a total of about 79,300 (-3%). The next highest numbers of Christmas tourists arrived from Russia (+27%), France (+9%) and Ireland (-20%).
GROWTH IN AIR TRAFFIC CONTINUESEurocontrol predicts that European air traffic will continue to grow in 2008, if at a somewhat more moderate pace than in 2007. Annual growth is forecast to be 4.2 per cent.
Finavia forecasts that despite the slowdown in the growth of the world economy, growth in international air traffic to and from Finland will remain moderately strong. The growth of international traffic at Helsinki-Vantaa is forecast to be higher again than at the Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo airports. The growth of traffic to the Far East is expected to level off during 2008.
Domestic traffic is forecast to remain at the same level as in 2007. In the long run, domestic passenger traffic is expected to level off at the level that it can achieve given the present structure of the Finnish economy and the country’s current population.