Working group: Temporary COVID-19 support from government to regional air services
A working group of the Ministry of Transport and Communications on regional air services proposes that air transport services to Kokkola, Joensuu, Kajaani, Jyväskylä and Kemi airports be purchased by the state until the end of 2021.
The purpose of the support is to promote regional employment and the recovery of the export industry and to ensure sufficient regional accessibility of air transport services in a situation where air transport from Finland abroad is already starting to recover.
Following a competitive tendering, a temporary solution valid until the end of 2021 would provide time for finding a longer-term solution and for developing new market-based models to help overcome the acute crisis situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The working group stresses the need to examine and promote the accessibility of Finland, including the regions, on a long-term basis in accordance with the objectives and principles set out in the national 12-year transport system plan.
“It is important to ensure air transport services across the country, also in emergency conditions. However, a long-term and sustainable approach must be applied in the development of air transport services from the perspective of efficient operations, the environment and climate,” says Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka.
The working group proposal is supported by Finnair’s announcement on 17 September 2020 stating that the minimum connections to these five cities will be restarted in the beginning of November for the winter season. This means that the break in the flights, which started in the spring, will end according to the wishes of the regions. The aim is to ensure seamless continuation of the services.
“Finnair’s solution will create a bridge allowing time for the government tendering process and ensuring continuous services until the end of 2021,” Minister Harakka says.
Digitalisation framework in aviation also under review
In the future, the established, commercial scheduled air services in passenger and freight transport will possibly be challenged by new forms of aviation utilising digital data.
In order to anticipate the developments, the Ministry of Transport and Communications appointed a working group on 1 September 2020 with the task of assessing how digital aviation and the related new forms of mobility services could be developed and considered in the preparation of the 12-year transport system plan.
Working group chair and members
The working group examining the air services in the regions will be chaired by State Secretary Pilvi Torsti. Director General Olli-Pekka Rantala will act as the vice chair.The term of the group ends on 30 September 2020.
The group members are Sami Laakkonen, Public Relations Manager from the Regional Council of North Karelia, CEO Ari Hiltunen from the Central Finland Chamber of Commerce, Development Director Risto Hämäläinen from the City of Kajaani, Regional Director Sari Moisanen from the Sea Lapland Development Centre and Development Director Jonne Sandberg from the City of Kokkola.
What are the next steps?
The working group will submit its final report on the flight connections to the regional airports to the Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka by the end of its term, 30 September.
The decision on the government support will be made in connection with the 2021 budgetary procedure.After that, the Transport and Communications Agency as the competent authority will launch the procurement process for air transport services. The details of the service level in the procurement will be specified in connection with the further preparations.
In granting the support, the conditions set by the EU regulation must be taken into consideration.
Pilvi Torsti, State Secretary, tel. +358 40 719 1206
Olli-Pekka Rantala, Director General, tel. +358 50 344 3400