Malmi Airport is economically important

Friends of Malmi Airport Society
Press release 24 March 2014
Available for publication

Malmi Airport is a significant business center to the aviation branch. As an isolated example, the 30 commercial pilots who graduate from Malmi annually pay VAT for their 130 000 euro education almost one million euro per year. The collected taxes are increased manifold by more than 100 private pilots and more than 50 ultralight pilots. The companies operating at Malmi Airport employ hundreds of people, and the total turnover is tens of millions euro. As the national center of pilot education Malmi is the second busiest airport in Finland. More than 1.4 million liters of aviation fuels are sold at Malmi annually, yielding to the State a sum of about half a million euro in just VAT.

Malmi Airport is seen as unprofitable. Finavia, however, does not release the numbers describing the economy of single airports. The pure profit of Finavia was 15,1 million euro in 2013. In a curious and unique arrangement, Malmi Airport must pay to other Finavia units for its air traffic control services, which are vital to pilot training, a sum that covers to a large extent the loss estimates of Malmi Airport quoted in media. Finavia's internal shuffling of money distorts the picture of Malmi Airport's economic situation.

Minister of Transports Merja Kyllönen has proposed in the media to close down Helsinki-Malmi Airport. Minister Kyllönen's main explanation for this is City of Helsinki's need for residential building ground. The minister justifies her claims of the redundancy of Malmi Airport by stating that the Airport is used by only 70 hobbyists.

In reality there are about 700 hobby pilots at Malmi Airport, and in the societies and clubs supporting aviation activities there are in addition several thousands of members. Hobby aviation, however, is not the main purpose of Malmi Airport.

Minister Kyllönen claims that there are no obstacles to closing down the Malmi Airport. When Helsingin Sanomat (the leading daily newspaper) claimed the last time on 22 November 2013 that Finavia is willing to give up Malmi Airport, Finavia corrected the claim in a bulletin already on the same day: "Finavia stresses the importance of finding an alternative suitable to the needs the present users of Malmi Airport before decisions can be made about closing down the airport."

The basic requirement of a viable alternative is written into the cooperation document of the State and the municipalities already in 2000 as a prerequisite of giving up Malmi Airport. The requirement of a proper alternative airfield is made by the expert organization overseeing the Finnish aviation infrastructure in order to ensure the future of Finnish aviation. The efforts of several expert workgroups to find a viable alternative location have been unsuccessful, and no payer for the costs of an alternative airfield has been found either.

In addition, Malmi Airport as a whole is listed as a built cultural environment of national importance. This inventory by the National Board of Antiquities has on 22 December 2009 been accepted by the Finnish Council of State as the inventory of built cultural environments mentioned in the National Objectives of Land Use which are based on the laws concerning land use and building. The inventory has been in effect since 1 January 2010. The Council of State's decision regarding the National Objectives of Land Use has been in effect since 30 November 2000 and the revision of the inventory since 1 March 2009.

The growth estimates of commercial air traffic are remarkable, and new light business aviation aircraft are effectively conquering the market. Despite the economic recession, the flight hours of small new-generation business aircraft, which produce less noise than the propeller aircraft presently operating at Malmi Airport, have increased in Europe by no less than 725 percent in 2008-2012.

Thanks to Malmi Airport, there is a direct airway to the capital from the small airfields of the provinces, e.g. Kuhmo, Iisalmi and Suomussalmi. These airfields in Minister Kyllönen's home province are just an example of the direct airways between sparsely populated areas and Helsinki. In addition to these, Malmi offers light aircraft a route to Helsinki from dozens of small airfields in Scandinavia, the Baltic states and Russia. Helsinki-Vantaa International, which concentrates on serving heavy scheduled air traffic, does not serve small aircraft, and with the increase of scheduled traffic in the future it has even less chance of doing so.

In other metropolitan areas the value of small city airports has been understood years ago: they are trump cards in the competition of accessibility in the future. For Finland and its capital region, accessibility is especially important: from the point of view of the rest of EU, Finland is situated over the sea.

The growth estimates of commercial air traffic, the development of modern instrument navigation methods and the new generation of business aircraft make the haste to close down Malmi Airport look strange. The national traffic infrastructure and the future of the aviation branch must not be subjected to the housing politics of one city.

More information:

Timo Hyvönen
Friends of Malmi Airport Society
tel. +358 50 3748371

Raine Haikarainen
vice chairman
Friends of Malmi Airport Society
tel. +358 40 5539464