National airline Finnair has announced plans to end domestic commercial flights to five regional airports after the upcoming winter season, which ends on 27 March 2021.
The decision affects the airports of Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Kajaani, Kemi and Kokkola, with Finnair citing the coronavirus pandemic and associated travel restrictions as the reasons for the decision.
The company added that these regional routes were already challenging in terms of profitability even before the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced Finnair to significantly adjust its operations. The airline plans to fly about 70-80 flights per day in October, compared to 350 daily flights for the same month last year.
The services to the regional airports will continue through the winter season of October to March in order to provide for the needs of the tourism industry as well as export companies, the company said in a press release.
"These flights will enable some connections during the coming winter season, while a working group considering the future of regional flights is looking for alternatives to provide accessibility to the regions," Finnair's Sales Director Mikko Turtiainen wrote.
The working group, set up by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, has proposed that the state supports air traffic to provincial airports by way of subsidies after March, when Finnair stops operating services, as a temporary solution.
This would provide time to develop longer-term solutions, the working group said.
"It is important that air traffic is secured throughout the country, including in exceptional circumstances," Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka (SDP) said. "However, air transport must be developed in a long-term and sustainable way from the perspective of operational efficiency and the environment and climate."
Finnair began co-operation talks with about 2,800 employees in August, aimed at cutting some 1,000 jobs.