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Friday's papers: Finnair's popular perks, neighbourhood watch, and veteran's centenary

Finnair managers may be given priority in choosing discounted ticket seats over longer-tenured members of the staff.

Travellers at the Helsinki Airport.
Finnair's decision to eliminate discounted tickets for partner companies at Helsinki Airport spurred a sudden walkout on Tuesday. Image: Linda Tammela / Yle
Yle News

After hundreds of Helsinki Airport ground staff workers suddenly walked out on Tuesday in protest at the news that Finnair would no longer hand out standby airline tickets, Helsingin Sanomat reported that a similar issue could flare up again.

HS pointed to a longstanding internal dispute between Finnair and its employees over who has priority in selecting discounted tickets for leisure travel. If there is an empty seat on a flight, Finnair employees can purchase a discounted ticket. The final decision is then made at the gate to see if they can board the flight.

Generally, employees who've been with the company longest have been able to secure the standby seats over newer workers.

But a couple of years ago, Finnair told employees that managers would get priority on the discounted seats. Tuesday's walkout also helped to bring wider attention to another issue about the highly desired perk.

"The employer [Finnair] suggested to staff that management members should be allowed to choose their flights first. Our unions have indicated that this change is not feasible. It is precisely leisure travel that is at stake," said Juhani Haapasaari, Chair of the Finnish Aviation Union.

No to neighbourhood watch

In an interview with tabloid Iltalehti, Helsinki Police Chief Inspector Katja Nissinen urged residents in the Lauttasaari district to refrain from organising neighbourhood patrols.

In response to an increase in criminal activity, Lauttasaari locals created a Facebook group to patrol the area and to discourage young people from engaging in disruptive behaviour.

According to Nissinen, the robbery suspects are known to police and will face legal measures. She also emphasised that while there may have been a group of disruptive young people in Lauttasaari, it was not a 'street gang'. Much of the discussion in Lauttasaari and on the Facebook group has referred to the group as such and many concerned parents say their children have felt threatened.

"The youths may shout, make noise and even break things, but that is far from criminal gang activity," Nissinen said, adding that neighbourhood patrols can complicate the work of the police.

"If there are problems, crimes or disturbances, it's better to call the police than to intervene. Everyone can supervise their own children, but leave it to the police to deal with any disturbance," Nissinen said.

She further emphasised that locals should be careful about what they read on social media because there may be exaggerations.

100 year-old veteran

Lapland paper Lapin Kansa covers the birthday of Aarno Muotka, a lifelong resident of the Tornio River Valley and the last living war veteran in the region.

The Muonio native, born in 1923, celebrates his birthday on Friday, and the following day plans to join family and friends at a local church to mark the occasion.

Muotka's military service spanned three years and two wars, starting in the Continuation War in January 1942 and ending in November 1944. He fought in what is today the Russian Republic of Karelia, defended a major Red Army offensive on the Karelian Isthmus and survived a gun shot through his neck during the Lapland War.

As of this autumn, there are around 2,500 surviving war veterans in Finland. Such veterans include those who fought in the 1939-1940 Winter War, the 1941-1944 Continuation War and the 1944-1945 Lapland War.

Muotka commented on his ageing and exceedingly rare cohort.

"Now veterans are treated well. Food and cleaning are provided at home. Since there are no other veterans in the Tornio River Valley, all these services will probably be offered to me," the 100-year-old veteran joked.

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