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Oulu Airport turns 70 – regular scheduled flights started the year the airport was opened

Article published
17.4.2023 at 08:23
Oulun lentoasema kuvattuna vuonna 1964
People & Aviation
Oulu Airport has served passengers and airlines during eight decades. Over the years, it has become the busiest airport in Northern Finland in terms of passenger numbers.

The construction of Oulu Airport in Oulunsalo began in 1949, when the Oritkari airfield with its grass-covered runways started to become too small for new aircraft.

The idea of a new airport had already been explored in 1939, but the war halted progress. Oulu Airport was finally completed in 1953, which is also when the airline Aero, now Finnair, began operating regular flights between Oulu and Helsinki.

Oulun lentoasemasta mustavalkoinen historiakuva.

Photo: Aero Oy’s OH-LCB at Oulu Airport at the inauguration / Finnair Plc and the Finnish Aviation Museum

Five years later, in 1958, the first actual station and air navigation building was completed and the main runway got an asphalt surface.

“Finavia has extended and developed the airport several times. Most recently, the terminal facilities were renovated and the comfort of the gate area was invested in. The airport also feels local. Hailuoto Lounge proudly reflects the area’s marine environment. As a result of the development work, we have been a completely carbon-neutral airport since 2020,” says Oulu Airport Manager Liisa Sallinen.

One million passengers for the first time in 2012

Over the years, Oulu Airport has developed into a hub for air traffic in Northern Finland, offering good and regular connections for both business and leisure travellers.

The airport, which serves a lively technology and university city, is the second largest in Finland in terms of passenger numbers. The airport reached one million passengers for the first time in 2012.

“Finavia selected Oulu as the Airport of the Year in 2014 and 2016.”

The COVID-19 pandemic reduced travel significantly, but passenger numbers have recovered rapidly.

Oulu Airport has also often been a local stage for state visits, and the airport hosts a base of the Lapland Air Command and the medical helicopter service FinnHems. In addition to commercial air traffic, the airport serves general aviation, such as private small aircraft and skydiving activities.

Oulun lentoasema kuvattuna vuonna 1964

Photo: Oulu Airport photographed from under the wing of Aero Oy’s Douglas DC-3 OH-LCB / Finnair Plc and the Finnish Aviation Museum

Oulu Airport personnel fondly remember the “Case of the Red-Throated Diver” that took place in the 1980s and was also of interest to ornithologists. During as many as seven summers, a lone red-throated diver was regularly spotted at the airport. The bird was infatuated with airplanes and monitored airplanes landing in the morning and evening by flying after them.

The reason for this unusual behaviour was not investigated, but one of the meeting rooms at the airport was named Kaakkuri (Finnish for “red-throated diver”) in honour of the bird.

Oulun lentoasemasta mustavalkoinen historiakuva.

Photo: Aero Oy’s DC-3 at Oulu Airport in January 1958. In the background, you can see the old work barracks of the administration building and passenger terminal. / Ilmailu magazine and the Finnish Aviation Museum

Celebrating history with passengers and personnel

The major anniversary will be celebrated with coffee and cake in May together with passengers and airport personnel.

“Officially, the anniversary is on 30 June, but there will be more passengers at the airport in May, and we are happy to celebrate this milestone with as many airport users as possible,” says Sallinen, who has managed the airport for nearly 10 years.

Main photo of the article: Oulu Airport photographed in 1964 / The Finnish Aviation Museum

Further reading

The history of Oulu Airport

Major aviation anniversaries at Oulu and Ivalo airports