Press release 30 September 2016
Friends of Malmi Airport
The Finnish Cabinet decided in its economy framework negotiations in 2014 that the State was to withdraw its operations from Malmi Airport by the early 2020’s. In its decision signed on 25 March 2014, the Cabinet had written down a prerequisite that the Border Guard and the civil aviation must be moved to a substitutive airfield.
The State and Finavia are nevertheless leaving Malmi Airport already at the end of 2016, even though a substitutive airfield for civil aviation has not been realized. In the Public Economy Plan 2015-2018 publication, the prerequisite of a substitutive airfield has been left out. According to the State Treasury, this has been done to shorten the text.
The Minister of Transport at that time, Ms. Merja Kyllönen, has confirmed on 28 September 2016 that the Cabinet’s decision to give up Malmi Airport included a prerequisite of a substitutive airfield. The Treasury and the Ministry of Transport and Communications have confirmed that the Cabinet’s original decision stands. A substitutive solution for civil aviation must be arranged before giving up Malmi Airport to other uses. The Chancellor of Justice has looked into the matter and found that the decision-making process in the framework negotiations proceeded in appropriate order. The Chancellor of Justice has not commented on the content of the decisions made.
The Cabinet’s prerequisites are not fulfilled
Moving the civil aviation to a substitutive airfield has not been realized. Finavia has also stated that Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport is not available to general aviation. Minister Paula Risikko has answered the written question 1155/2014: “A new place will be found for a general aviation airport”. The “new easily modified building” for the Border Guard, mentioned in her reply, does not exist; the construction of the helicopter base is still ongoing.
In October 2015 Minister of Transport and Communications Ms. Anne Berner has stated that the matter is closed as far as the State is concerned, even though the substitutive solution required by the Cabinet has not been realized.
The matter is of crucial importance, as without an operational substitutive airfield a large portion of Malmi’s civil aviation may have to be run down. This includes e.g. a significant part of Finland’s professional pilot training. A substitutive airfield must be available before Malmi is given to other uses.
The Ministry and Finavia cannot overthrow the Cabinet’s decision
The Ministry of Transport and Communications and Finavia Ltd cannot act against the Cabinet’s decision, and one Ministry alone cannot change such a decision. No information has been given out about how Finavia Ltd made the decision to end its operations at Helsinki-Malmi Airport: in its general meeting, by request of its State owner in its Board, or by itself in its operational management.
As far as is known, Finavia made the decision by itself and had the related real estate sales approved afterwards in its Board. No documents of the decision-making process have been published except the request made to City of Helsinki to purchase the airport buildings. According to an expert’s assessment, Finavia’s conduct seems to be widely and in general inconsistent with the law concerning its conversion into a public company (877/2009).
The most sensible solution is to keep Malmi Airport in operation
The Chairman of Friends of Malmi Airport, Mr. Timo Hyvönen sees the Cabinet’s decision as binding: “It’s obvious that the cogs of government cannot bypass the Cabinet’s decision. In a western democracy that complies with the guidelines of good government, such actions are deemed null and void, and the situation must be reset to what a consistent way of government requires.”
According to Mr. Hyvönen, the Finnish Cabinet’s decision is clear-cut: “The State must realize substitutive arrangements before Malmi Airport’s activities are ended. This will take several years. By reason and in the interests of the national economy the best solution is to keep the general aviation airfield in its present location at Malmi and to start developing it to actively serve Helsinki and the capital region.”
Possible solutions have been presented: “City of Helsinki has been presented with nine plans where residential construction and aviation are easily combined. Now the responsibility for operating the airport seems to return to the State. In order to avoid years of delay we once more suggest cooperation to City of Helsinki in order to solve the matter by continuing the aviation activities, building residences and developing the area. The matter is of great national interest”, says Hyvönen.
Friends of Malmi Airport will ask for an account of the matter and actions to be taken from the Ministry of Transport and Communications. In order to set the matter straight, FoMA will also take it to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.
The Lex Malmi citizens’ law initiative will shortly achieve the required minimum of 50.000 declarations of support, and will thus proceed to Parliament.
The exact wording of the decision made in the Cabinet’s framework negotiations is as follows (note: unofficial translation):
”In order to improve the prerequisites of housing construction in Helsinki region, the State will withdraw its operations from Helsinki-Malmi Airport so that the area can be taken to housing production by the early 2020’s at the latest. This change requires that the Border Guard and the civil aviation are moved to a substitutive airfield. The Border Guard will initiate preliminary work to acquire a base at Helsinki-Vantaa. Finavia Ltd and the Border Guard will agree on space arrangements in such a way that moving from Malmi to the new premises can be made in a cost-neutral manner.”
According to the State Treasury, the prerequisite of moving the civil aviation to a substitutive airfield has been stricken from the Public Economy Plan 2015-2018 in order to shorten the text.
The citizens’ initiative LEX MALMI, initiated in August 2016, aims at protecting the operation and cultural environment values of Helsinki-Malmi Airport by law because of its supra-municipal significance. See www.lexmalmi.fi (in Finnish).
Friends of Malmi Airport
Chairman Timo Hyvönen, tel. +358 50 3748371