Compared to the same period last year, the number of overflights increased by over 13 per cent. Currently, the expanding route network to North America by Middle Eastern airlines is the main factor behind the growth.
The number of overflights controlled by the Finavia-operated Finnish Area Control Centre was 8,927 in January–March. In the previous year, there were 7,871 overflights during the first three months. Compared to the same period in 2015, the number of overflights increased by 13.4 per cent. The growth was fastest in February, when the number of overflights increased by 27 per cent.
An overflight is a flight that does not land in Finland. Finavia’s air navigation services business is responsible for controlling the Finnish airspace and for providing the related en-route services and air navigation services. The services are funded by the business profit of Finavia.
Overflights by Middle Eastern airlines over Finland increased
The number of overflights has increased significantly in recent years. In 2002, for example, the number of controlled overflights in Finland was approximately 15,000 while in 2015, the number of overflights exceeded 36,000. In recent years, the number of overflights has increased by a little less than 10 per cent annually.
There are many factors contributing to the positive development of overflights. Currently, overflights by Middle Eastern airlines, in particular, over Finland are increasing, because their routes to North America pass through Finland and their route selection is increasing continuously.
In the long term, Middle Eastern airlines will increase the number of flights on their routes to North America. Therefore it is expected that the number of overflights will keep increasing. In addition, Finland’s airspace is very efficient and therefore attractive to airlines, says Raine Luojus, Director of Air Navigation Services for Finavia.
The EU aviation policy aims at securing sensible routes and efficient air traffic
The EU aviation policy has also increased the number of overflights. As the result of EU’s Single European Sky (SES) policy, a shared airspace with more efficient air navigation services and nine airspace blocks has been created. Finland belongs to the North European Functional Airspace Block (NEFAB) together with Norway, Estonia, and Latvia.
In addition, an airspace renewal was implemented in Finland in 2014, and in 2015, a Free Route Airspace was introduced. These changes improved the planning of flights. Due to the airspace renewal, aircraft fly the most sensible routes at all times at an optimal flying altitude. More direct routes save time and fuel. Therefore, well-planned flight routes also reduce the greenhouse emissions of flight traffic.
The renewal of a common European airspace continues. The EU is currently preparing SES 2+ package, which would open air navigation support services to competition and introduce other changes. This would mean a wider market for Finavia’s air navigation services. The package is currently in the process for approval by the European Parliament and Council.