Finnair & Helsinki Airport Just Don’t Get It

Finland is a country which requires flights to travel to our most important destinations – with the exception of the sea ferries to Stockhom, the Baltics, and north Germany.

Helsinki airport and Finland’s main trading destinations must be efficiently organised for passengers. 

Likewise the airlines flying to and from Helsinki must have reasonable and competitive pricing with many direct flights to these main destinations required for trade and tourism.

Finnair has had a very dominant position amongst the other airlines that use Helsinki airport, the major Finnish hub. Both must offer safe and efficient transport with reasonable costs for SMEs, larger companies, as well as for tourists.

Finnair and Helsinki airport are key players in Finland’s economic strategy and without them this country would be on economically weaker, but our economic strength has been sapped by a poorly maintained airport and by high ticket prices. Our export performance lags our peers like Denmark, Sweden and Germany.

Big companies and civil servants appear to be able to afford Finnair’s high prices, but they are definitely not the most important source of economic growth and exports. Growth of exports of products and services, like true innovation comes from the SME sector and mid-sized companies that seldom have fat wallets. 

Finland was blessed when Norwegian, the airline from Norway, entered our market with an excellent service, but they grew too fast on long haul flights and hit the wall. Covid has also been bad for all the airlines, but we the taxpayers are contributing huge extra cash to save Finnair and keep it afloat, like all the other national carriers! 

Finnair should recall that it is a national carrier with a strategic job of being one important foundation of our national economy that is now being a big recipient of taxpayer support. The pretext that it must maximise profits because it is a stock exchange company – the government should consider delisting the company for the good of the economy.

Competition for air passengers must be maintained, but we need a national carrier with other carriers, not a profit maximising company, that plans its future on expensive tickets.

Finally let’s consider Helsinki Airport’s position. It has been a building site for almost 5 years. Your  correspondents last trip to and from Munich this September was an exact repeat of trips made 2 years ago, 3 years ago, 4 years ago and 5 years ago – long walks to and from taxis ranks and the railway station, dirty scruffy building rubbish outside and inside the building, shops selling expensive stuff nobody really needs, stressed and impolite security inspections, and long queues for security checks with an inadequate number of x-ray machines, and the prices of limp snacks and coffee that bear no relationship with poor quality and untidy cafes.

Even though flying is a lousy experience from Helsinki, things are even worse in Munich airport at Terminal 1 where Finnair has arranged their flights. It is filthy, the toilets stink, the food is older and more limp than in Helsinki and none of the passengers can understand why we are subjected to police inspections of EU travel documents with machine guns!

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