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Lappeenranta Airport regionalisation progressing

20.11.2015 at 08:00
Finavia, the City of Lappeenranta and the Regional Council of South Karelia have reached a joint understanding of the terms of transferring the Finavia-owned Lappeenranta airport property and the airport business to the Saimaan Lentoasema foundation and Lappeenranta Lentoasema Oy, a company to be established.

To be implemented, the regionalisation still requires consent from Lappeenranta City Council (7 December), the provincial government of Southern Karelia (30 November) and Finavia's General Meeting. The goal is to hand over the business, according to the proposal, to the new company on 1 January 2016.

In addition to the property transaction, the business transaction to Lappeenranta Lentoasema Oy will include the transfer of Lappeenranta Airport's passenger services, airport area maintenance, commercial activities and development. The Finavia staff of Lappeenranta Airport's network business transferred will transfer to the new company as existing employees. The current number of those employees is 13. The business transaction does not cover air traffic control and air traffic controllers. In the future, air navigation services would be offered at the airport on the basis of commercial service contracts.

-          "Transferring Lappeenranta Airport to be controlled by the region will give excellent opportunities for the operators in the region to make the region more appealing, to develop the commercial sector and tourism in Lappeenranta and throughout Southern Karelia", says Kari Savolainen, managing director of Finavia.

Kimmo Jarva, mayor of Lappeenranta, considers the airport to be significant to the vitality and reachability of the entire province of Southern Karelia. Jarva points out that the development of the airport in regional control will now require effective cooperation between the province, cities and towns in the Saimaa region and the business sector.

-          "When we control the airport, we will be able to ensure that the Lappeenranta region is easy to reach. Well-functioning, fast connections will boost investments and the development of tourism in our region, which will strengthen the business sector and offer more jobs. International air traffic will also promote Lappeenranta's position as a growth centre on both sides of the border."

The regionalisation project of Lappeenranta Airport is related to the execution of the air traffic strategy of the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The strategy proposes that Finavia maintain airports according to the network principle. Lappeenranta Airport has no connections to other Finavia airports.  

-          "Southern Karelia has a strong mindset to develop the province and the tourism of the entire Saimaa region. That is why we decided to assume responsibility for the airport. Direct, low-cost international flight connections have been and will be very useful for the residents and companies in our region. In addition, the fact that St. Petersburg is near brings substantial foreign customer potential, which is why I believe that we can again commence flights after the transition period", says Matti Viialainen, regional mayor of Southern Karelia.

He hopes that the government will support the initial stage of the regionalisation. "Thanks to its location, Lappeenranta may become a prime example that can perhaps be followed by other provincial airports if the regions and cities so wish", says Viialainen.