Press release 3 October 2016
Friends of Malmi Airport
The citizens’ Lex Malmi law initiative to keep Malmi Airport in aviation use has gained more than 50.000 supporters, which is the required limit for the initiative to be taken into consideration in Parliament. The law initiative aims at keeping Helsinki-Malmi Airport in aviation use, developing its auxiliary activities and preserving its cultural heritage values.
Malmi is the airport best suited for light business aviation and other general aviation in the capital region. Only 10-20% of its use has been hobby aviation, and it is of crucial importance on the national level to the trades of the aviation branch.
The whole of Malmi Airport is of exceptional historical value and has received significant international recognition as a built cultural environment. The plans of City of Helsinki to demolish the airport on the pretext of residential building has met with widespread resistance. Lex Malmi aims at securing the area’s development in a manner that combines residential construction, aviation and the needs of other business life. Many celebrities have stepped forwards as sponsors of the undertaking.
Popular support surpasses all expectations
Of all citizens’ initiatives so far, Lex Malmi achieved the required 50.000 supporters in the second fastest time. “The required number of supporters was there in less than two months. That is a strong message of the will of the people”, sums up Mr. Kim Korkkula, the head of the initiative and one of its initiators.
The initiators are not planning to continue collecting support for the full period of six months, but stress that it is in the best interests of every concerned party that the matter is processed without delay. “In our view submitting the initiative swiftly is more important for the public good than collecting as many supporters as possible. Let the exceptionally fast accumulation of 50.000 supporters be a message of the strong public support for keeping the airport”, says another initiator, Mr. Juha Krapinoja. Mr. Mikko Saarisalo, another initiator and one of the chief persons in charge of the initiative, is happy about its success: “Malmi is a matter concerning all Finland, more than 50.000 supporters prove that beyond any doubt. Declarations of support are arriving from all corners of Finland.” Mr. Saarisalo also stresses why the matter is of importance: “Malmi is the cornerstone of Finnish aviation trades – a seedbed of both presently known ones as well as future innovations.”
Declarations of support were collected both electronically at the kansalaisaloite.fi website as well as on paper forms by volunteers. Around 40% of the support was collected on paper forms. Many supporters had an aversion to signing electronically and were happy for the possibility of signing their declaration of support by hand.
The popularity of collecting signatures in public places astonished the volunteers. “There were often queues of signers”, says Ms. Maria Holmberg, the person in charge of face-to-face support collection. “We were certain that we would achieve the required number of supporters, but we were surprised ourselves that it happened so quickly”, she says happily.
With the present power balance in Parliament and based on the initiative’s wide support, it is quite possible that the bill will be passed. Says Juha Krapinoja: “The decision-makers of City of Helsinki should finally accept the fact that within the city there is an airport that has strong public support and is valuable to all Finland. The City should collaborate with the operators at the airport to come up with the best solution from the point of view of residential building, jobs and the future of aviation.”
Importance to the business life and connections of regions
Malmi offers significant possibilities to the capital region’s business life, but functional domestic traffic connections are of great importance especially to the capital region’s accessibility by air from other regions. “In the future, smooth and practical air connections will be of ever greater importance to provincial businesses too”, says Mr. Mika Horelli, the author of the report “Flying Future of Malmi”. “One Finnish engineering company has stated that Malmi’s existence affects whether they will make their next investments in Finland or elsewhere in Europe. It’s impossible to conduct business if the clients can’t reach us”, Horelli recaps his discussion with the leaders of export companies. Functional traffic connections are a global competitive asset.
Electric aviation is coming
Aviation is at a threshold of a significant breakthrough. The evolution of batteries and electric motor technology has made completely new innovations possible in aviation. The pace of development can be compared to the proliferation of electric cars on the roads. Malmi Airport and the cluster of aviation-related know-how offers ideal conditions for developing business models and services around electric aircraft. Lex Malmi aims to secure the prospects of this trade in Finland.
“It is perfectly clear that if Malmi Airport was to be closed down, Finland would lose a critical chunk of its possibilities to be a part of the global development of electric aviation”, says Mikko Saarisalo.
Lex Malmi will affect also the pending general plan
Lex Malmi defines the allowed use of the area, so it will affect city planning. “This means also that City of Helsinki should no longer have the authority to continue its planning process before Lex Malmi has been processed in Parliament”, finds Kim Korkkula, the person in charge of the legislative content of the initiative.
The actual legal text of the initiative has been crafted with expertise, and the reasons for the initiative have been extensively explained. “Theres a lot of legal expertise behind it”, says Korkkula about the preparative work.
Lex Malmi is not an obstacle to fulfilling the goals of housing construction
Lex Malmi does not limit the use of the airport and its surrounding areas more than is necessary to ensure the continuation of the aviation activities. The recently updated environmental noise modelling shows that the noise impact area of the airport has significantly diminished from the 2003 situation used by City of Helsinki in its planning work. With the diminished noise impact area indicated by the new noise modelling, substantial areas in the vicinity are made available to housing construction.
The share of residents whose dwellings should be built elsewhere is less than 1,5% of the city’s planned population in 2050. If the growth forecasts presented by the City of Helsinki are not fully realized, the continued operation of Malmi Airport will have absolutely no significance to the City’s housing production.
Helsinki favors low buildings. “If you build five stories high instead of four, the housing production will increase by 20%”, says Lex Malmi’s initiatior Kim Korkkula. “You dont need to be much of a mathematician to realize that this is not about housing production.” He also points out: “For instance green areas will also be spared in the same proportion”.
An exceptionally valuable historical site
Juha Krapinoja of the Lex Malmi group reminds about the cultural history that is important to Finland and Finns: “Malmi is a valuable site of world cultural heritage. Destroying an internationally widely recognized whole on the eve of the Republic of Finland’s 100th anniversary would be a national shame, and it would certainly not help Finland gain international reputation as a nation that respects its culture and traditions.”
Europa Nostra selected the whole of Malmi Airport as one of the Seven Most Endangered Cultural Heritage Sites. The selection panel had representatives from organizations that also advise UNESCO’s World Heritage program. In their opinion Malmi, as part of the functionalist whole built for the Helsinki Olympic Games 1940/1952, would have a good chance of being considered for UNESCO status.
“It is quite possible that in the future Helsinki could have two world heritage sites”, says Juha Krapinoja.
Lex Malmi is supported by a broad-based group of politicians and known Finnish trend-setters
A number of well-known people from the fields of culture, industry, aviation and politics have already announced their patronage of Lex Malmi. Among the first to join, Mr. Petri Vesterbacka makes a serious comment: “Closing down Malmi Airport is extremely shortsighted of the City of Helsinki and the State: in the future, aviation solutions all the way from drones to ‘flying cars’ would benefit from Malmi Airport, if the area is developed as a center of all kinds of aviation and its aviation know-how is not destroyed. The rest of the world is advancing in the exactly opposite direction than Finland right now; it is not sensible to throw away a strategically valuable asset just as its value is starting to rise.”
All the patrons and their comments are presented at https://lexmalmi.fi/kummit/ (in Finnish).
Lex Malmi is still open for declarations of support on the Ministry of Justice’s kansalaisaloite.fi website.
LEX MALMI citizens’ initiative
Kim Korkkula, tel. +358 40 021 4181, firstname.lastname@example.org
Juha Krapinoja, tel. +358 50 626 39, email@example.com
Mikko Saarisalo, tel. +358 50 486 0145, firstname.lastname@example.org
Graph of the initiative’s support vs. time:
“Malmi’s Flying Future”, report by Newsbrokers Ltd (in Finnish):
Malmi Airport’s updated noise modelling:
Lex Malmi’s patron, CEO Tatu Nieminen’s comment on electric aviation (in Finnish): https://lexmalmi.fi/2016/09/28/sahkoinen-lentaminen-mullistaa-ilmailun/
The Cabinet’s decision requiring a substitutive airfield for Malmi still stands:
Europa Nostra’s selection of Malmi Airport as one of the Seven Most Endangered Cultural Heritage Sites: