A substantial majority of Helsinki residents demand that Malmi Airport remain in aviation use

Seppo SipiläFor the press, News archive

TNS Gallup has conducted an opinion poll on 24-30 November 2020 about the aviation use of Malmi Airport. Based on the answers, 58 % (2017 62%, 2016 59%) of Helsinkians want to keep Malmi Airport in aviation use unconditionally. If the needs set for housing construction can be resolved sensibly otherwise, 65% (2017 67%, 2016 68%) of Helsinkians would keep the field in its current use. In this case, the majority of all parties’ voters also support the continued aviation use of Helsinki-Malmi Airport. 

City of Helsinki has planned housing construction in the Malmi Airport area. The projects have not progressed beyond planning, but the city has taken drastic measures to shut down operations. The courts will be busy with the complaint filed against the City’s decision to terminate the land lease of the runway area for a long time, but recently the City has also terminated the land lease agreements of the entrepreneurs in the airport area. Complaints have been filed against these decisions.

Social Democrats’ supporters knock out housing construction

Viewed by party, voters of the Finns Party are most in favor of preserving Malmi. If the goals set for housing construction can be met sensibly another way, the smallest group of voters of any party, only 12% of SDP voters, want housing in the airport area. In this case more than half (51%) of Green voters want aviation to continue. 

Reasonable solutions can be found, as regional and supplementary construction projects are underway in Helsinki for decades to come. City of Helsinki has reserved building land for residential construction elsewhere to the tune of tens of times the area of Malmi Airport.

Citizens disagree with the councilors

“Public opinion has been researched for several years and people have always been in favor of aviation use at the airport. Some of the councilors claim that the matter has already been discussed and decided by the City Council. But the voice of the citizens has not been heard”, says Mr. Timo Hyvönen, Chairman of the Friends of Malmi Airport Association. 

“Alongside the big basic questions, though, the issue may be too small to influence the outcome of the municipal elections, as Mika Ebeling (CD) also pointed out in the discussions of City Council in November. A municipal initiative for a consultative referendum is therefore pending. Hardly any Council candidate can oppose this instrument of direct democracy provided by Finnish law”, says Hyvönen. 

The municipal elections are once again Malmi Elections

The survey also asked the interviewees about their political stand. As in previous studies, it has now become clear that the conservation of the airport area in aviation use is supported across political borders. 

More than half of all voters except those of the Greens and the Left Alliance want to keep the airport in aviation use. Also, a practically equal number of green voters would unconditionally keep the airport in aviation use as would build housing there, and the supporters of the airport are the majority of Green voters if housing production goals can be met in other ways. 

The largest numbers of supporters of aviation use are now among the supporters of Finns Party , the Center Party and the Swedish Party. A clear majority of supporters of SDP and the National Coalition also want to maintain aviation unconditionally, and as other housing solutions are found, support for maintaining the airport will increase further. 

“The new council has the opportunity to reconcile housing construction and aviation. Both housing and aviation can fit in Malmi. Nine proposals combining housing and flying have already been submitted to the City.  There certainly are viable alternatives among them in case the City runs out of land to build on ”, says Timo Hyvönen.

“Decision makers should look ahead. Helsinki and aviation are both going through a significant transition. Flying is turning electric and unmanned aviation is becoming more common. At the same time, the population of Helsinki is growing and connections between the capital and the rest of Finland are becoming even more important. Smart decision-makers are sure to find a solution that will serve the future of Helsinki, the people of Helsinki and the entire nation, both in terms of connections and housing construction. ”

Why do citizens want to keep Malmi Airport in aviation use?

Malmi Airport as a whole is a significant part of the history of independent Finland, a living natural and cultural heritage site with international recognition, and a national icon. The people of Helsinki have repeatedly expressed their desire to keep it in its original use. 

A prohibition on endangering the values of the entire area is in effect due to a protection proposal made under the Building Heritage Act. The proposal is being considered by the Ministry of the Environment. 

The Finnish Parliament requires a compensatory airfield for Malmi’s operations as a condition for changing the purpose of the Malmi Airport area. In November 2020, Parliament decided to keep in effect the so-called Lex Malmi statement, in which this requirement is registered. So far, there is no other place for Malmi’s numerous aviation companies and communities.

Kantar TNS Ltd interviewed a total of 832 Helsinki residents from 24 to 30 November 2020. The statistical error margin of the study is about 3.5 percentage points in both directions. Within the margins of error, the results are consistent with the corresponding polls made in in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

The future of Malmi Airport. It should…

Unconditionally
If the goals set for housing construction can be met in another way