The continuation of Malmi Airport’s operations must be ensured in accordance with the statement by Parliament

Seppo SipiläFor the press, News archive

TO THE MEMBERS OF HELSINKI CITY COUNCIL  11 December 2019

In seeking to terminate Malmi Airport’s operations, the City of Helsinki violates both the conditions under which the State decided to withdraw from Malmi Airport and the existing regional land use plan for Malmi Airport.

On March 25, 2014, Jyrki Katainen’s government made a decision to implement the government’s structural policy program as part of the fiscal plan, stating that “to improve housing conditions in the Helsinki region, the state will withdraw from Helsinki-Malmi Airport so that the area may be taken into residential construction use by the early 2020s at the latest. The change requires the Border Guard and civil aviation to be relocated to a substitutive airfield. ” [1]

In its ruling (KHO:2018:151) at the end of 2018 , the Supreme Administrative Court stated that a replacement for Malmi Airport had not yet been found when the general plan was adopted [2]. In addition, the current regional plan for Malmi Airport, to which the Supreme Administrative Court refers in its ruling, primarily defines Malmi Airport as a traffic area until the substitutive site or the relocation of Malmi Airport’s operations to existing airfields and bases has been solved.

The Lex Malmi Citizens’ Initiative, seeking to keep Malmi Airport in aviation use, collected 56,067 Finns’ signatures. In addressing the Citizens’ Initiative, in April 2018, Parliament issued to the Government the statement: “Parliament requires the Government to take steps to secure substitutive airport operations so that aviation activities at Malmi Airport can continue with good accessibility and within reasonable distance” [3].

In September, the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Communications stated in its 2018 annual report that this statement is to be upheld [4]. This statement was included in the report of the Parliamentary Audit Committee dated 3 December 2019 [5].

No alternative location has been assigned to the aviation activities of Malmi Airport. In spite of this, the City of Helsinki intends to shut down Malmi’s aviation operations by the end of 2019. There is a clear need for aviation operations at Malmi Airport now and in the future – Malmi is still Finland’s second busiest airport in terms of landings and take-offs and a key part of the accessibility and aviation cluster of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. It is an international border crossing point for air traffic and the only free-schedule air access to the capital region within 150 km.

Malmi Airport’s numerous companies in the aviation and supporting industries cannot put their business on hold and wait for the substitutive solutions required by Parliament to materialize. They must have a practicable and commercially viable place for their operations until the substitutive capacity and services equivalent to Malmi have been established.

Aviation at Malmi Airport enjoys strong support from locals and Helsinki residents. Among other things, the initiative for a municipal consultative referendum on continuing the operation of the airport has so far attracted 24,077 signatures.

Heritage Finland (formerly the National Board of Antiquities) stated in its comments on the general plan draft that Malmi Airport is of considerable national importance as an early civil land airport and represents the dynamic and functional construction works by the National Board of Public Building, symbolizing the open-mindedness of aviation. In addition to the buildings, the Built Cultural Environment of National Significance includes the entire airport area with its runways. The statement goes on to say that dense construction based on centers and residential blocks would destroy the character of the airport.

In its statement to the Ministry of the Environment dated November 1, 2018, Heritage Finland is even more unambiguous: “There is such a fundamental contradiction between the objectives of zoning and the values of the Built Cultural Environment of National Significance that the requirement to reconcile the requirements of the national land use guidelines is in practice not fulfilled – – Malmi Airport is one of the earliest examples of how the terminal, hangar, runways crossing each other in the shape of a compass rose, and open airfield areas have been designed as a complete composition of internationally high-quality aviation architecture. The planned zoning to fill the airport with residential blocks will destroy a historically and architecturally unique monument, despite the fact that a couple of buildings would be preserved and the runway would be utilised in aligning the streets.”

There are other alternatives to residential construction at Malmi Airport. The state owns significant land areas e.g. in Ilmala, right next to downtown Helsinki, where the planned residential construction at Malmi Airport could be fully implemented.

Honoured Member of Helsinki City Council, we urge you to take immediate action to safeguard Malmi Airport’s flight operations at Malmi Airport until adequate substitutive airfield capacity has been established.

Helsinki, 11 December 2019

Friends of Malmi Airport Association

References (in Finnish)

[1] https://valtioneuvosto.fi/documents/10184/1044815/Hallituksen+p%C3%A4%C3%A4t%C3%B6s+rakennepoliittisen.pdf/2693ae4e-f145-46eb-a5e6-8350bc4f3e46 [2]https://www.kho.fi/fi/index/paatoksia/vuosikirjapaatokset/vuosikirjapaatos/1541580128040.html
[3] https://www.eduskunta.fi/FI/vaski/EduskunnanVastaus/Sivut/EK_5+2018.aspx
[4]https://www.eduskunta.fi/FI/vaski/Lausunto/Sivut/LiVL_3+2019.aspx
[5] https://www.eduskunta.fi/FI/vaski/Mietinto/Sivut/TrVM_5+2019.aspx