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One of the world's most extraordinary airports: Helsinki-Malmi Airport is a cultural heritage site

Article published
13.9.2015 at 06:00
Spiral staircase.
Helsinki-Malmi is one of the best-preserved civil airports hailing from the early days of aviation. Its unique milieu has been included twice on the World Monuments Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites published yearly.

The glowing white main building of Helsinki's first airport was completed in December 1936 and it is a typical example of the functionalist style of the era. Its hangar was able to hold all of six Junkers 52 aeroplanes, which made it the second largest in Europe at the time.

The official opening took place in 1938, with some 25,000 people present for the occasion, as well as two thousand invited guests, including Mannerheim, the Marshal of Finland. The opening ceremony air show was the biggest ever seen in Finland.

Aero Oy, which later became today's Finnair, began operating regularly from the airport, and many international airlines started to fly to Finland too.

Air Force base during wartime

WW2 interrupted the fast development of Finnish civil aviation. The airport became a target for Soviet bombing, and an important airbase for protecting the capital of the country.

The Finnish Air Force used Helsinki-Malmi as a base up to the end of the war, but after the armistice the airport was used by the Allied Control Commission until the end of 1946.

With the war over, it became obvious that Helsinki needed a new, international-level airport. Helsinki Airport was completed in time for the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki.

Helsinki-Malmi was then used for light commercial air traffic and general aviation. Measured in the number of landings, it is Finland's second busiest airport.

Future as a residential area

In recent years Helsinki-Malmi Airport has often been in the news, as the council is planning to use the area for housing purposes.

The State of Finland is going to close down their operations at the airport. The Finnish Border Guard is transferring to new premises to be built at Helsinki Airport in 2016. Patria will transfer their Pilot Training to Tampere-Pirkkala Airport in 2017.

Helsinki-Malmi Airport will be handed over to the City of Helsinki on 1 January 2017 at the latest. The city is planning to start using it for housing by the beginning of the 2020s, if not sooner.

People & Aviation