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Thursday's papers: NCP widens poll lead, Finnair mulls domestic cuts, Pukki's new home

September polling looks good for the largest opposition party, according to Thursday's Helsingin Sanomat.

Petteri Orpo ja Sanna Marin.
The National Coalition party led by Petteri Orpo (left) widened its polling lead over the governing SDP. Image: Petteri Bulow / Yle, Ilkka Klemola / Yle

The latest Helsingin Sanomat-commissioned voter poll has found that the opposition National Coalition Party (NCP) is still the most popular political party in Finland, extending its lead over the governing SDP.

Support for Prime Minister Sanna Marin's SDP slipped by 0.8 percentage points since the last HS poll in August, while the number of voters backing the NCP, led by Southwest Finland MP Petteri Orpo, rose by a single percentage point.

Both changes were within the HS poll's margin of error.

If parliamentary elections were to be held now, the NCP would take 20.8 percent of the vote and the SDP 18.4 percent, according to the Helsingin Sanomat poll.

Shifts in voter backing for the other parties were tiny, the paper writes, with the Finns Party rising 0.2 to 17.4 percent and the Centre Party remaining level at 12.9 percent support.

Sakari Nurmela, research director at Kantar TNS, which produced the survey for HS, told the paper the NCP bounce was reflective of the party's municipal election victory in June.

"Yes, they have received quite a boost from the election victory. The NCP has also been in the public eye quite a lot lately," he told the paper.

Governing coalition parties the Greens and Left Alliance saw small drops in support, at 0.3 and 0.1 percentage points, respectively.

The Swedish People's Party saw its support creep up by 0.1 percentage points, as did the opposition Movement Now party.

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Finnair considers bus replacement service

Tampere-based Aamulehti reports that national carrier Finnair plans to cut flights between Tampere, Turku and Helsinki this winter.

The paper reports that the state-backed airline will replace domestic flights to the regional hubs with direct bus routes linking the two cities to Helsinki Airport.

The loss of the Helsinki route would be a blow to Tampere's airport, which was renovated in 2018 at a cost of around €15 million, Aamulehti writes.

Finnair's head of communications Päivyt Tallqvist told the paper the plans were only "on the drawing board," and pointed out the environmental impact of flying short distances.

"Tampere and Turku are important parts of our network and we want to ensure good connections to the world. On the other hand, they are also the shortest routes and have a higher carbon dioxide load per passenger kilometre," she said.

A flight from Tampere to Helsinki covers just 143 kilometres, Aamulehti writes.

Finnair has struggled with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the travel industry. In July the carrier posted its sixth consecutive quarterly loss.

Pukki purchases Helsinki home

Norwich City and Finland star striker Teemu Pukki has bought a new home in Helsinki, according to tabloid Iltalehti.

The 31-year-old footballer is thought to have paid around 1.6 million euros for a 255 square-metre apartment in July, the paper writes. Iltalehti does not identify where in the city Pukki's new home is.

However, Pukki will count some of Finland's rich and famous among his closest neighbours, Iltalehti says.

Timo Ritakallio, president and CEO of the OP banking group and former chairman of the Finnish Olympic Committee, and Timo Hiltunen, former CEO of digital marketing firm Fonecta, live next door, the paper writes, while Formula 1 star Kimi Räikkönen's home is just a couple of hundred metres away.

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