Helsinki’s own international airport, Malmi, was festively inaugurated 85 years ago on Sunday, May 15, 1938. The state-of-the-art, architecturally praised airport was one of the first to be designed for its purpose as a complete composition, including the runways, right from the drawing board. Already at that time it received international praise.
The inauguration ceremony was a huge media event with a prestigious guest list including e.g. President Kyösti Kallio, the Cabinet, Parliament, the diplomatic corps and the highest military leadership up to Marshal Mannerheim. After the inauguration ceremony, the largest air show seen in Finland up to that time took place. A mute film recording of the festivities can be viewed in the YLE Living Archive.
Thanks to the huge, robust drainage system of the runway area, Finland was finally properly connected to the international air traffic network. Malmi Airport served the capital city’s air traffic year-round without interruptions caused by the changing of the seasons: its runways, paved at the end of the 1930s, did not turn into mud in autumn and spring, as was the case with most other Finnish airports of the time.
By the early 1950s, the rapid development of passenger aircraft into larger size and heavier weight had led to the situation where they could no longer operate from the 1930s airport. The new Seutula airport in the current city of Vantaa took over serving them. Malmi Airport served scheduled air traffic until the Olympic year 1952 when it was given a new role as a necessary general aviation center, following the experience from other parts of the world. By separating heavy scheduled traffic and light non-scheduled general aviation into their own airfields, the capital region’s air transport services could run as smoothly and safely as possible.
This also made it possible for historical Malmi Airport to be preserved as an almost perfect, functioning example of an international airport from the pre-war era, of which extremely few have survived in the whole world. In its new role, Malmi has been by far the busiest general aviation airport in Finland even in the early 2020s. It is a functionally intact, extremely rare cultural heritage monument from the era when mankind first took wing on a larger scale. Its internationally significant value has been recognized by several organizations that defend the cultural heritage of humanity – most recently in 2021 by ICOMOS, a direct advisory organization of the UNESCO World Heritage Program.
The Friends of Malmi Airport congratulate Helsinki’s cultural heritage, nature and aviation treasure that has already served people for a lifetime! The will of the people of Helsinki to preserve it has been public knowledge for two decades, and the fight to save it, as well as the reputation of Helsinki and Finland, continues.