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Down Memory Lane Part 2: Helsinki Airport in the 70s and 80s

2.8.2016 at 06:00
Air travel has gone through huge changes throughout Helsinki Airport’s 64-year history. In this series, we take a glimpse at the past and revisit rare photos.

On July 10th Helsinki Airport turns 64. To mark the occasion, Finavia is publishing a three-part series, Down Memory Lane, which looks at the past decades through photos.

Part 2: Rise of tourism during the cold war

The waiting area of Helsinki Airport’s new passenger terminal, opened in 1969.

As the prices of holiday flights to southern destinations dropped, tourism became more and more popular among the general public. Civil aviation grew by leaps and bounds from the 1960s to the 1970s. Whereas in 1965 only 700 000 people travelled through Helsinki Airport, by 1975 the number had risen to roughly three million.

Photo: Finnish Aviation Museum

The airport continued to be a place where historical moments were witnessed, especially in Finnish sports. Here, two Olympic winners, long-distance runners Lasse Virén and Pekka Vasala, return as gold medallists from the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.

Photo: Finnish Aviation Museum, Photographer: Börje Hielm

Two of Spearair’s aircrafts at Helsinki Airport in 1973.

Package tours became popular in the 1970s: for instance, in 1971 and 1972, charter flights to holiday destinations grew by 28%. The most iconic Finnish package tour operator was Keihäsmatkat, a travel agency that marketed itself by offering dirt cheap prices and projecting a low-brow image. The company became the largest tour operator in the early 1970s, and even had its own airline, Spearhead. However, after the price of aviation shot up during the oil crisis, the company had to file for bankruptcy in 1974.

Photo: Finnish Aviation Museum, Pressfoto

In 1975, Helsinki was the site of an important political summit, ETYK, and Helsinki Airport welcomed some of the biggest names in cold war politics to Finland, including GDR’s Honecker, Romania’s Ceaușescu, Soviet leader Brezhnev and Swedish prime minister Palme. Photographed here are US President Gerald Ford and his wife arriving at Helsinki Airport in Air Force One aircraft.

As Finnish air traffic continued to grow, so did Helsinki Airport. The airport welcomed a new extension to its international terminal in 1983.

The staff at the terminal showing off their new uniforms in 1983. Behind them is the first, computer-controlled display panel, also installed in 1983.

In the late 1980s a milestone was reached at Helsinki Airport. The airport’s five millionth passenger, Lena Karlsson, was awarded a bouquet of flowers.

Down Memory Lane Part 1

Junkers A50 Junior came to Helsinki Airport in 1976

More about Helsinki Airport's history

People & Aviation