Responsible environmental work

Air traffic is a form of public transport facilitated by Finavia’s airports and air navigation service.

Finavia’s aim is safe and economic operation of airports and smooth air traffic that affects the environment as little as possible. Our responsible operations are based on legislation, international treaties and consideration of the justified expectations of various stakeholders to the extent that does affect flight safety negatively.

Factors impacting the environment

The major causes of environmental impacts at airports:

  • anti-skid treatment on runways (emissions into the ground and water)
  • ice protection and de-icing of aircraft (emissions into the ground and water)
  • aviation (noise and exhaust fumes).

Mechanical methods are primarily used in the antiskid treatment of runways: sweeping and ploughing. Chemical agents are required for removing frost and ice from the runway surface and for skid prevention. Substances currently used are sodium acetate, potassium acetate, sodium  formate, potassium  formate in granular and liquid form. These substances consume oxygen in waterways, but only have a minimal negative impact on the environment. Finavia is responsible for anti-skid treatments on runways.

Snow and ice must be removed from the surface of the aircraft and formation of new ice must be prevented to ensure their manoeuvrability and performance. Propylene glycol sprayed on the aircraft surfaces is not classified as hazardous, but upon disintegration, it consumes oxygen and emits an odour. The ground-forwarding companies are responsible for anti-icing and de-icing treatments of aircraft.

The flight operations of aircraft belonging to air carriers, private individuals and the defence forces cause noise. Aircraft noise is managed by planning runway use and flight routes and by supervising land use around airports. The engine technology of aircraft has developed tremendously due to international regulations on noise and modern planes cause less noise than ones built a decade ago.

Atmospheric emissions at airport are generated by various operators: Finavia, air carriers, ground handling companies, other companies operating within airports.  Finavia is responsible for its own operations and emissions.

Operation of airports is tightly regulated

Air traffic and the operation of airports are subject to a large number international regulations, EU legislation, national legislation, and aviation regulations based on the aforementioned. The starting point is to ensure flight safety.

According to the Environmental Protection Act, the maintenance of airports is an activity subject to licence. For Finavia, the permit processes are a part of its everyday environmental work, fulfilling the requirements of legislation and interaction with the sectors it serves. Cooperation with the Defence Forces is also important, because responsibility for permits is shared at joint operation airports.

The permit application requires a lot of background work and we try to forecast operations long into the future. Operations are described in a diverse way from the point of view water and soil preservation, noise, air emissions, waste and chemical treatment.

Permit decisions include regulations related to operations and the attainment of regulations are monitored by local Centres for Economic Development. The regulations may be related to, for example, the use of runways at night or the quantity and quality of environmental monitoring.

By the end of June 2013, Finavia has acquired environmental permit decisions that are in accordance with current legislation for 16 airports (Utti, Maarianhamina, Tampere-Pirkkala, Helsinki-Malmi, Joensuu, Oulu, Kuopio, Jyväskylä, Halli, Ivalo, Kittilä, Kemi-Tornio, Enontekiö, Helsinki-Vantaa, Rovaniemi and Turku). A permit application is pending for Kokkola-Pietarsaari Airport.

Finland’s airspace is environmentally efficient

Finavia’s air navigation services are responsible for planning the use of Finland’s airspace and daily air traffic control.

The airspace is regularly used by commercial aviation, the air force and general aviators. The structure of the airspace, flight routed used by commercial aviation and areas allocated for the air force's training flights have been planned efficiently, taking into consideration the needs of all operators. Finavia’s planning ensures that commercial aviation has access to direct and environmentally efficient routes and the air force has access to areas suitable for training flights.

Airports participate in an energy programme

According to international studies, the CO2 emissions caused by airports represent approximately five per cent of the emissions of the entire air traffic industry, which in turn represent two per cent of all anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

Finavia’s Energy and Climate Programme was launched in 2007. Through the programme, Finavia is committed to long-term action to improve the energy efficiency of its operations and reduce emissions. 

Finavia has reduced emissions by for example optimising the heating system and air conditioning of buildings, installing geothermal systems and by renewing lighting systems. Emissions caused by Finavia's airports have reduced in recent years so much that Helsinki Airport and six tourist airports in Lapland were admitted to the Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) programme of ACI.

Environmental impacts are comprehensively monitored

The quality of surface waters and groundwater is monitored at almost all airports. Finavia draws up reports on aircraft noise using measurements and calculation models. Finavia’s own energy use and emissions are reported annually. Aircraft emissions at airports are calculated annually. All monitoring data is used for identifying environmental impacts and planning, directing and monitoring corrective actions.

In addition to Finavia’s own organisation, Finavia the makes the collected environmental data available for stakeholder groups and others interested in air traffic through annual environmental responsibility reports and annual airport-specific reports submitted to authorities.

Environmental monitoring and reporting is coordinated by Finavia’s environmental unit.

We are happy to answer all questions concerning environmental matters related to airports or air traffic. Please submit your inquiry by using the environmental feedback form (form in finnish).