“We are in a situation where the airport infrastructure is at the end of its useful life and, at the same time, we are unable to invest in its modernisation. The use of the runway and the terminal is critical for service quality and risk management,” says Senior Vice President Jani Jolkkonen, Director of Airport Networks at Finavia.
Under present conditions, Enontekiö Airport cannot be opened next winter as the condition of the runway and the terminal services do not meet the quality level set by Finavia for commercial air traffic.
Together with stakeholders, Finavia has considered a solution that could ensure the accessibility of the Enontekiö region. However, the need for investment is so great that, despite the joint efforts, no investment solution has been found to carry out the modernisation needed.
“So far, only partial alternatives have been found in the discussions, and the big challenge Enontekiö Airport is facing has not been fully resolved. “We will be happy to continue negotiations and try to find a solution during the autumn,” Jolkkonen says.
Last year, Finavia invested heavily in the development of Lapland’s airports and Helsinki Airport, and has carried out major modernisations at several regional airports.
According to Jolkkonen, the situation at Enontekiö Airport has been difficult for a long time as it is one of the least trafficked airports and regular scheduled traffic ended two years ago. Seasonal charter traffic, which operates without regular schedules, does not guarantee the airport sufficient passenger flow in order to justify investments.
The decline in supply and demand for flights has put the economy and operating conditions of the airport in a very difficult position.
“We review the development of our airport network through many different criteria, including accessibility and customer needs. However, airport investments are big and expensive, so economic factors always play a role in decision-making. With the development investments of Lapland’s airports and Helsinki Airport, among others, 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,” he says.
Background on the situation at Enontekiö Airport
The runway and terminal buildings at Enontekiö Airport are at the end of their useful life. Their continued use is starting to become critical in terms of flight safety. The modernisation investments required by Enontekiö Airport can reach up to EUR 15 million.
The passenger volumes at the airport have reached 25,000 passengers in the last couple of years, and 28,000 last year, which was about two per cent of the total number of passengers of airports in Lapland. Enontekiö Airport has been one of the smallest airports in Finland.
The air traffic in Enontekiö has been largely concentrated to a few winter months, and the airport has been closed for most of the year. After regular air traffic ended in 2018, there are no prerequisites for the modernisation investments.
Finavia has just recently carried out a major EUR 55 million development programme for Lapland airports, with an additional investment to be made this year for Kittilä Airport. The development programme will improve the infrastructure needed by Lapland’s business community and tourism. In addition, an extension project of over EUR 1 billion is currently underway at Helsinki Airport. The goal of both these investment programmes is to improve the global connections of Finnish people and to take care of Finland’s accessibility also for tourism.
Read the earlier news article about Enontekiö Airport: Finavia is looking for alternatives to Enontekiö Airport.