State-subsidised flights operating between five provincial airports and Helsinki will continue until the end of April 2024.
The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency, Traficom, has finalised agreements with national airline Finnair on a previously agreed-upon extension option between the regional airports and Helsinki. These flights are subsidised by the state.
According to Finnair, the service will remain essentially unchanged, but there may be small changes to flight schedules.
On 1 March 2023, the Finnish Parliament granted the 17 million euros in additional funding needed for the flights.
This means that flights to five regional airports, Kokkola-Pietarsaari, Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Kajaani and Kemi-Tornio can continue with state support.
The flights are already operated by Finnair, and in the current period the state is subsidising the flights to the tune of 13.7 million euros.
Criticised financially and environmentally
The continued subsidisation of low-passenger flights has been criticised in Finland for its financial and environmental consequences.
Some of the regional flights offer airlines over 1,000 euros per passenger and fail to turn a profit.
In late 2020, the European Commission pledged to make collective travel under 500 km "carbon neutral," with short flights to be replaced by rail links to cut emissions.
Jyväskylä lies just 270 km from Helsinki, while Joensuu is 440 km away and Kokkola 480 km.
The Centre Party, in particular, pushed for additional funding of regional air traffic in the most recent supplementary budget approved last month.
"It is reasonable and right that Helsinki Airport, as a hub for international traffic, is within reasonable distance and access from everywhere in the country. Unfortunately, commercial flights have not recovered from the coronavirus pandemic as we would have hoped," Finance Minister Annikka Saarikko (Cen) said at the time.
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