Helsinki Airport has announced its plans to close Runway 1 for six months, beginning from 1 November 2020 until 30 April 2021.
Just as other airports in the world, the number of flights at Helsinki Airport has decreased significantly because of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions.
Finavia airport director Ulla Lettijeff said: “It is sad that we have to close one of our runways for the second time this year. It is an indicator of the prevailing difficult situation in air traffic. There is no end in sight for the difficulties faced by the aviation industry.”
Out of the three runways of the airport, Runway 3 was closed earlier this year for four months, from the beginning of April to the beginning of August.
There were indications of recovery in air traffic during summer, but as ‘the autumn has gone on, the coronavirus situation has again worsened’, the airport stated.
Lettijeff added that estimates indicate there will be only 25% of regular flight numbers during the winter and so it ‘makes no sense to maintain full capacity’.
The projected number of takeoffs and landings every day will be 100 to 150 while the regular number is more than 500 operations per day.
The change can also be seen in aircraft types as airlines are now using more small, low-noise ATR and Embraer planes than before the pandemic.
During the closure period of Runway 1 in the winter, Runway 3 will be used for takeoffs and landings.
Aircraft will also be allowed to land on Runway 2 when the maintenance situation allows.
Meanwhile, in a separate development, airport operator Finavia reported that its passenger numbers have dropped sharply this year and, as a result, its economic situation has significantly weakened.
The Finnish state is preparing to capitalise the firm with €350m to bolster its financial position.
Finavia CEO Kimmo Mäki said: “Finavia is a company owned by all Finns. We play a key role in building the connections for Finns, and we are an integral part of Finnish society and the traffic system. The Covid-19 crisis has caused unprecedented financial distress for the aviation and tourism sectors.”