Rising airline passenger traffic stretches border guard resources

Border guards from northern Finland are being called in to handle increasing passenger numbers at Helsinki Airport.

Image: Elise Tykkyläinen / Yle

The number of passengers entering and leaving Finland at the airport has risen from four million to six million in the last five years as Helsinki Airport has become a major hub between Asia and Europe.

The overall increase in traffic at Helsinki Airport, which saw a record 20 million passengers last year, has affected the operations of the Finnish Border Guard.

"We’ve had to increase staff and bring in border guards from other parts of Finland," said Tuomas Laosmaa, head of the Finnish Border Guard.

Fewer guards in other parts of Finland

This summer, border guards have been moved to Helsinki Airport from airports in Lapland, Kainuu and North Karelia. This means that there are fewer border guards in other areas of Finland.

"During holiday peaks we’ve had to move 10 to 30 staff members at a time to strengthen the checks that we do," Laosmaa added.

The total number of border guards has increased in the last few years through additional funding. During the past two years, 360 border guards have been trained, but according to Laosmaa, they have largely replaced staff shortages that have occurred in recent years with people retiring, for example.

Municipalities with new international flights need monitoring

Laosmaa emphasises that the number of border guard personnel should be carefully monitored.

Helsinki Airport’s international traffic is estimated to increase to 10 million border crossings by 2025 and international traffic along Finland's eastern border has also started to grow after a few weak years.

"It’s also important to monitor how we take care of northern Finland’s airports," Laosmaa noted.