Monday, May 22, 2006

It's official: Finland remains the arse end of nowhere

The Danish budget airline Sterling have just announced that they will stop flying from Helsinki in August. They started two months ago. So that didn't last very long did it? This follows hard on the news that Swedish budget carrier FlyMe are also to stop linking Stockholm and Helsinki.

Some time last year I wrote an article for Ulkopolitikka magazine about how Finland has virtually missed the low-fare airline revolution that has swept the rest of Europe. As some one living a couple of thousand kilometres from their home country obviously airline fares are a source of constant interest. The gist of the article was that EasyJet and Ryanair have done more to Europeanise the UK than every EU policy drive and public relations effort combined. The foreign is a lot less foreign when it costs you 99p + tax to go and visit.

Sterling say simply that they haven't sold enough tickets. I wonder if Finns just don't want to travel or are happy enough with the prices offered by the flag-carriers? I would be interested to know to what extent "Summer cottage culture" lowers demand for flights out of the country. I definitely have met quite a few middle class Finns who spend their summer holidays over-looking a lake somewhere in the quiet hugeness of the country rather than heading for southern beaches and sunshine as their UK equivalents would. Meanwhile I'll be taking SAS to the UK at the end of this week where, despite not offering budget prices, you don't even get some booze and free sandwich anymore.


Teemu said...

Although the Summer Cottage culture might have an impact on this one, I'm quite sure that pure mathematics work better while solving the dilemma:

There are 5,2 million Finns in this country and the distance from Southern Finland to e.g. Barcelona is nearly 3000 km.

There are nearly 60 million people on that foggy and rainy island of yours. Distance between London and Barcelona is approximately 1100 km.

Quick counting tells me that an average Finn should travel some 30 times more often to Barcelona than a Brit to bring the price to the same level. If he or she does it only twice a year and stays the rest of the summer at the summer cottage (where there are more wheater conditions than just rain-fog-heavy rain) there is no way we can have really cheap tickets anywhere else except Tallinn.

So we can't change the geography and
there are not enough us to make it worthwhile to fly here without charging proper money for it. Sorry.

BiB said...

When I lived in St. Petersburg, I used to fly to London from Helsinki with Ryanair. Alas, that route was scrapped while I was still there. I suspect it's the rest of the Europeans not rushing to visit Finland rather than the other way round that makes the route unprofitable.

radar said...

Toby, You should be writing your effing PhD, not ruminating on matters nordic

Peanut's Mom said...

When we were in Helsinki, I, too had been thrilled to hear about the few budget flights when they became available.

However, a few things always made us think twice:
1. living on a local salary - there wasn't much left over for just a quick weekend jaunt someplace which I suspect is responsible for a fair share of the volume of other cheap airline traffic around the EU.
2. the secondary airport that the budget airline flew from was usually in Tampere! From Helsinki, not an outrageously expensive trip, but still several hours and combined with reason number 1, always made us decide to pocket the fare and save up for our 'real' vacation.

Also, these airlines need passengers to fill the planes on the way TO Finland - perhaps the lack of interest in travlers from other countries played a role in their demise?

Petteri said...

This blik of an eye, aka Finnish summer, shouldn't be missed. The people have voted with their vallets and what could be more democratic than that?

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

In that case we need budget flights for the other eleven and half months of the year! :-)

Petteri said...

Ten for Houston, we have the connction! Bloody time, too! :)