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Monday's papers: Record import of used cars, domestic food prices, and another imbibing pilot

Finland's newspapers on Monday discuss consumer zeal for used cars from Sweden and Germany, a MTK boss' comments on food prices, and a grounded flight.

Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Finland's most widely-read daily Helsingin Sanomat starts out the week with a story on a record number of used diesel and petrol cars being imported (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

Tero Kallio, head of a car importing association, tells the paper that over 40,000 used diesel and petrol vehicles will be brought into Finland in 2018, accounting for one-third of all cars registered this year. Typically purchased from Sweden or Germany, the used cars that Finnish residents buy abroad tend to be larger, use more fuel and release more emissions. Two-thirds of them run on diesel, HS writes.

This increase in imported used cars flies in the face of Finnish decision-makers' efforts to renew the relatively old and high-emission fleet of vehicles on Finnish roads. A variety of carrots, like a cash-for-clunkers programme, and sticks, like higher taxes on petrol, diesel and high-emission cars, have been introduced to encourage consumers to buy newer cars.

EU courts have nevertheless ruled that older emission regulations should apply to imported used cars in Europe, placing them in a less expensive tax bracket.

This situation has contributed to a steady stream of used cars flowing into Finland from Sweden and Germany. The cars are typically nine years old. The fact that they are often larger and run on diesel means that they tend to last longer, HS writes. In some cases, the car will continue to serve the purchaser for another 13 or 14 years.

Finland's car stock is just getting older as a result, as the average service life of a car here is already 21 years, which puts Finland in the company of eastern Europe countries. In other parts of western Europe, cars are typically driven for 15 or 16 years before they are traded in for a new model.

MTK: We'll cut food production by half, if we can double prices

Juha Marttila, president of the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) says that farmers in Finland could heed calls to limit food production to mitigate climate change, if the price of domestic food products could then be increased.

LK reports that Marttila is disappointed with the accusative tone of the debate in Finland since the IPCC released a report in early October calling for drastic measures to stop global warming.

"It doesn't matter what the report would have said, there would have been a vicious attack on farming and forestry anyway," he told the Lännen Media news agency.

The MTK boss says people forget perspective in their simplistic reaction to things like timber harvesting and food production, when ways to combat climate change are being considered. He says the role of the retailers is often forgotten in these conversations.

"The shops need to stop selling food at rock-bottom prices. Food is now being dumped on the market at less than its production cost. This feeds over-consumption and creates huge amounts of waste," Marttila tells the paper.

He says he is all for cutting food production in Finland by half, if the asking price of food produced in Finland could then be increased 100 percent.

"Sure, that's fine by us. The environment will thank us, there will be less food waste, and maybe domestic food products would finally get the appreciation they deserve. If people value something, they don't waste it," he says.

Too tipsy to fly

And finally to the tabloid Iltalehti, that features more information (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on a new case of an inebriated pilot at Helsinki Airport, this time flying for Norwegian Airlines.

Passengers had already boarded a Norwegian flight from Helsinki to Dubai last Friday, and the pilot had already wished everyone welcome, when police arrived on the scene to administer a breathalyser test to the crew. Then police apprehended the pilot.

Miika Laine of the Eastern Uusimaa region's police confirmed to the tabloid on Friday that officials suspect the Norwegian Airlines pilot of using intoxicating substances and have filed a criminal report.

A passenger on the flight told the tabloid that everyone watched the police administer the breathalyser test and saw the pilot being led away, but no one from Norwegian told ticket holders what was happening. He says they were kept on the plane for 2.5 hours before they were asked to disembark, and a bus transported them to a new gate. They eventually departed on another flight, five hours later.

"Norwegian informed us of nothing, not even if we were entitled to reimbursement for the flight's delay," another passenger said.