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How is the coronavirus affecting air travel and Finavia’s airports?

Article published
16.3.2020 at 13:51
Passengers waiting for boarding.
The coronavirus epidemic has transformed into a pandemic and the Finnish government has ordered that an emergency law will take place in Finland.

Attention! This article has expired. Please read: Air travel during COVID-19

On May 4th, 2020, The Prime Minister’s Office declared that the statutory restrictions on border traffic will be lifted as of 14 May 2020 in cross-border traffic across the Schengen internal borders by allowing employment or commission-related commuting and other essential traffic.

For the time being, recreational travel abroad is not recommended. The Ministry of the Interior will draft more specific guidelines on the gradual opening of border traffic.

Until 14 May 2020, the border crossing will follow current guidelines:

Finnish nationals abroad are advised to return to Finland immediately. Necessary travel for work and to access other necessary services will be permitted across the northern and western borders. Freight and goods traffic will continue as usual.Finns and permanent residents in Finland returning from abroad will be placed in quarantine-like conditions for two weeks. Read more from the official announcement. In addition, all arriving passengers should avoid using public transport when exiting the airport.

Persons returning from abroad must agree on the date of their return to work after a two-week period of absence together with their employer.

International air traffic is allowed to operate at Helsinki Airport, Turku Airport and Mariehamn Airport. In addition international air traffic is allowed at other Finavia airports for returning Finns and for pick-up flights of foreign tourists by the permission of the Finnish Border Guard.

Arriving passengers from domestic flights will exit the gate area via baggage claim area and arrivals hall 2A. If you are transferring from a domestic flight to another flight, you will need to go through the arrivals hall, security and border control to return to the gate area for your next flight.

All arriving and departing passengers will go through border control. On Finland's domestic flight, passport or official ID cards will e checked also upon boarding. Passengers are kindly asked to get more information about the immigration at Finnish Border Guard or at your own airline. The main principals are follows:

You are allowed to enter Finland if you are:

  • A national of Finland
  • A family member of a national of Finland (provided that you are entitled to enter and stay in Finland)
  • Holder of a valid Finnish residence permit
  • EU national who is registered as staying in Finland

As an EU national and a holder of EU issued residence permit, you are allowed to return to your EU country of residence via Finland.

Non-EU nationals who are leaving the Schengen area can return to their country of residence via Helsinki Airport (in Finland). In these cases, a passenger must stay in Schengen and / or Non-Schengen area, and he / she is not allowed to enter Finland.

Travel from a non-Schengen country to another non-Schengen country is allowed via Helsinki Airport. However, you should be travelling to your country of residence and remain in the non-Schengen transit area of Helsinki Airport. Please take into consideration any possible coronavirus related restrictions of the destination.

According to the information we have received from the Finnish Border Guard, a transfer passenger passing through Helsinki Airport cannot move to downtown to spend time before the departure of a ship or other connection. The passenger must wait at the airport and they may transfer to the port earliest when the check-in to the boat opens.

According to the Finnish Border Guard essential commuter traffic is still permitted and will continue as before at the internal borders. Even though commuter traffic across borders will not be prevented, the reductions in air traffic and shipping will make it significantly more difficult for foreign labour to enter Finland from abroad.

International freight and cargo flights will continue.

Communication in terminals

We at Finavia do our utmost to secure the wellbeing of our passengers and staff in this very severe and challenging situation. As of January 2020, Finnish Health Authority THL’s concurrent material has been available at Helsinki Airport terminals. The latest update shared a strong recommendation to social distance and quarantine for 14 days upon returning abroad. It has been shared in the terminal premises, especially to arriving passengers in baggage claim areas. In addition the material is at the airport’s exit routes, eg bus station, taxies and train stations.

At Helsinki Airport frequent public announcements share information about the required 14 day quarantine and about avoiding public transport when exiting the airport after landing in Finnish, Swedish and English. The information is also on digital screens. Every second check-in machine has been turned off to enable passengers to have more space when checking in. Floor stickers remind passengers to keep their distance to other passengers in terminal premises.

Coronavirus prevention intstructions and current quarantine information is also shared at Turku and Mariehamn Airports via announcements and personnel instructions. All Finavia airports have the same THL material available for passengers.

Press release by Prime Minister's Office
25.3.2020 Healthcare professionals to meet returning Finnish tourists at Helsinki Airport

A part of the domestic routes will be operated - some of the Finavia airports remain open

Some of Finavia's airports will stay open as domestic air traffic will continue until so far. These airports are:

  • Helsinki Airport
  • Kuopio Airport
  • Mariehamn Airport
  • Oulu Airport
  • Rovaniemi Airport

Please check your flight status before coming to the airport. Cancellations and timetable changes are informed by airlines. Finnair Travel Updates are available here.

All flights at Helsinki Airport are operated via Terminal 2

On Thursday 19th March at 00 hrs Finavia will close the check-ins, baggage claim, arrivals hall and all services in Terminal 1 due to the decreasing number of passengers. All flights will depart and arrive in Terminal 2.

Moreover, on Friday 20th March a major part of the non-Schengen area will be closed. It is possible that passenger facilities will be closed further in coming days and weeks.

If you are picking up a passenger, please wait in your car.

Changes for services and opening hours at Helsinki Airport

Most of the airport services will be closed. However, we do our best that at least some services, e.g. pharmacy and convenience stores, could stay open. Please note that opening hours are shorter than usually. Opening hours can be checked at the Finavia website.

Most of the restaurants in the network airports are currently closed. Passengers can carry some food items to the gate zone and airplane in accordance with the normal security control instructions. You can also fill your own water bottle at all Finavia airports.

Please check the opening hours of the services on Finavia's website.

Advice for parking and lounge reservations

  • If you need to cancel your parking reservation at Helsinki Airport, you can do it up to six hours before the beginning of the reservation free of charge by following the cancellation link in the confirmation e-mail.
  • If you need to cancel lounge access that you have booked in advance at Helsinki Airport, you can cancel the reservation up to 24 hours before the beginning of the reservation free of charge by following the cancellation link in the confirmation e-mail.
  • The payment for parking or lounge access will be refunded to you as soon as possible.

Adjustment measures at Finavia and its airports

“Air travel is in a temporary, sharp downturn. As the Finnish airport company, Finavia is doing everything it can to restrain the spread of the coronavirus and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its customers and personnel,” says Finavia’s CEO Kimmo Mäki.

According to Mäki, tackling the virus demands taking exceptional measures. The sharp reduction in air traffic has a direct impact on airlines and, also on the personnel and economy of Finavia and the businesses operating at the airports. Mäki believes that Finavia’s strategy and the cornerstones of its operations are strong and will carry the company through the coronavirus crisis.

As a result of the decrease in traffic, Finavia has begun cooperation negotiations on temporary layoffs of permanent personnel. Read the press release here.

Preparation and instructions from the authorities

Already at the beginning of February, Finavia intensified cleaning and began distributing hand sanitizer at customer service points. The instructions given by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) are being distributed to passengers and personnel at the airports. Read how Finavia is prepared for the epidemic and what measures are being taken at the airports.

Decisions concerning medical examinations of passengers or other special measures are to be made by the relevant authority.

Follow the information on coronavirus in Finland: