Update 30 January 2021: the bailiff has granted a six-week postponement of the eviction until 14 March 2021.
The City of Helsinki has announced that it will require the eviction of aircraft from Helsinki-Malmi Airport by the end of January 2021. If the eviction takes place, the Finnish government must, in accordance with the statement of Parliament, promptly assign a location to each aircraft at Malmi within good connections and distances.
The city has not provided any real grounds for eviction. The grounds given are the city’s own use. The final documents, plans and budget of the explanatory memorandum were last requested from the city in November 2020. No reservations can be found in the published budget and no reply has been received. In December 2020, the Parliamentary Ombudsman found that the City of Helsinki has repeatedly violated the law by delaying its answers in the Malmi case.
The runway has been leased from the City of Helsinki and is managed by the Malmi Airfield Association. The land lease termination issue will be dealt with in the Court of Appeal in the future. The district court upheld the city’s eviction claim, and the first request for suspension was dismissed in the Court of Appeal. New suspension requests have been made to both the Court of Appeal and the Helsinki Administrative Court. The timing of their processing is not yet known.
Friends of Malmi Airport will continue to operate normally
Founded in 2002, the Friends of Malmi Airport Association will continue to work to ensure saving the airport in the coming decades. Even if the flight operations moved elsewhere, the operations or goal of the Friends of Malmi Airport Association will not change. The association is not an aviation association and the majority of its members are ordinary citizens.
The purpose of the Association is to maintain the operations of Malmi Airport in its current location and to develop, promote and support the operations of the airport. The Association’s aim is also to nurture and protect the diverse nature and built cultural sites and environments at Malmi as well as their character and special features, and to promote their sustainable management and use. In addition, the purpose of the association is to document, store and transmit information related to the intangible and tangible cultural heritage of the area.
ICOMOS, the advisory organisation of UNESCO’s World Heritage Program, emphasizes the cultural value of Malmi Airport by highlighting the living airport complex in its recent report “Heritage at Risk World Report 2016-2019“. The proposal submitted by the association in October 2015 to protect the entire airport under the Building Heritage Act is being processed by the Ministry of the Environment.
The association has also commissioned expert companies to carry out studies of natural values which the city has neglected in the planning phase. Highly endangered insect species have been found in Malmi Airport’s meadow, and the habitat of extremely endangered, particularly protected flying squirrels, has been found to cover a large part of the woods around the perimeter of the airport area.
In 2006, the Supreme Administrative Court rejected a housing construction entry in the area’s master plan following an appeal by the association.
Will the area end up empty?
The future protection of the airport complex will allow the it to operate without disturbance. The most natural use for it is aviation, for which the area is presently assigned in the detailed town plan. According to the City of Helsinki, the zoning process “usually takes at least a year and may take several years.” That is why the eviction proceedings are obviously rushed. If they succeed, the area would at worst be left empty for decades, but its historical value, vistas and natural values would be preserved.
The city refuses to negotiate
Both the Friends of Malmi Airport Association and the Malmi Airfield Association have been trying to negotiate with the city for years, but there has been no response. The city has even banned officials from talking directly to the associations, and all contacts are directed to lawyers. The feedback, suggestions and opinions submitted by the associations have invariably been rejected.
Malmi is the hottest issue in the upcoming municipal elections
The fate of Malmi Airport will be among the first tasks of the future council when the proposal for a municipal referendum is brought before it. Council candidates’ positions are collected at www.malmivaalit.fi.
This is an important issue from the point of view of civic democracy: will a municipal election candidate accept direct civic involvement if the number of citizens asking for it exceeds what is required by law.