For the development of the airport it is problematic that regular scheduled air traffic to Enontekiö Airport came to an end two years ago. The end of supply and demand for flights has put the economy and operating conditions of the airport in a very difficult position.
Finavia is considering closing Enontekiö Airport and is currently looking for alternative solutions concerning the accessibility of Enontekiö.
“Promoting good connections and tourism is at the heart of Finavia’s strategy, so the situation at Enontekiö Airport is very unfortunate. The coronavirus crisis has further weakened our ability to invest in Enontekiö Airport, and we have to consider closing the airport. However, no decisions have yet been made,” says Finavia’s CEO Kimmo Mäki.
“We are doing our best to ensure Enontekiö’s connections, and we have already had discussions with the municipality of Enontekiö and other stakeholders. We have discussed a few options that could be used to ensure the accessibility of Enontekiö,” Mäki continues.
Mäki emphasises that Finavia has wanted to raise the issue openly with the municipality of Enontekiö, among others, so that everyone is aware of the difficult situation at the earliest possible stage and solutions can be sought together.
One option to ensure the continuity of airport operations is to find a new owner and operator for the airport. Finavia is naturally ready to support the new owner in taking over the operations.
Background on the situation at Enontekiö Airport
The runway and terminal buildings at Enontekiö Airport are at the end of their life cycle. Their continued use is starting to become critical in terms of flight safety. As the demand and supply of flights have ceased, so has the incentive for investing in a modernisation, which is why Finavia is forced to consider closing the airport.
Regular scheduled traffic is the most important precondition for the vitality of every airport. Seasonal charter traffic, which operates without regular schedules, does not guarantee the airport sufficient passenger flow in order to justify investments. Operation of an airport not used by airlines and passengers is not viable in the long run.
In 2019, Enontekiö Airport was used by approximately 28,000 passengers, which is about two percent of the number of passengers at Lapland Airports. Air traffic is largely limited to a few winter months. For most of the year, Enontekiö Airport has been closed. Due to the coronavirus situation, assessing the demand in the coming years will be even more challenging.
Finavia has just recently carried out a major development programme for Lapland Airports, with an additional investment to be made this year for Kittilä Airport. The development programme aims to ensure the infrastructure needed by Lapland’s business community and tourism. In addition, an extension project is currently underway at Helsinki Airport. The goal of both these investment programmes is to improve the global connections and to take care of Finland’s accessibility also from the point of view of tourism. The company is heavily indebted already, and the income financing situation is being weakened by the deteriorating general outlook for the world economy as well as the coronavirus pandemic.
Based on preliminary calculations, the modernisation investments required by Enontekiö Airport could reach up to EUR 15 million, and Finavia is not in a position to carry them out in this situation.