Vision and investment are fuelling growth potential for air travel into Finland’s second city.
“The catchment is huge as nearly all rail and major road traffic from northern Finland to Helsinki passes through Tampere.” Marja Aalto, senior specialist at Visit Tampere, is explaining why the city’s location is so valuable when it comes to drawing in travellers to its airport.
While those coming to Tampere by road can head directly to the airport, those using the train need a bus journey to cover the 17 km (taking 15-20 minutes) from the city centre. That, however, could well change in the coming years. “We’re building a highspeed tramlink,” Aalto reports. “The first section will open in 2021, but that is around the city, which needs the system because, with the surrounding lakes, space is limited and we don’t want too many cars. Taking the tramlink out to the airport is in the planning phase, but right now it needs money.”
The city region is growing fast and attracting global attention. “The population is around 540,000 and is adding 3,000 to 4,000 more annually,” Aalto says. As for recognition for Tampere, she notes, “We have a new multipurpose arena opening in 2021 and the world ice-hockey championships will be held there in May 2022. That alone will have 300,000 tickets for sale over the duration of the competition.”
At Tampere Airport (TMP), €17 million worth of renovations were undertaken beginning in 2018, all of which are now operational. However, in terms of traffic, passenger numbers stayed relatively constant in 2019 at 223,000, which Aalto puts down to the effect of a number of airline closures. “We have ended up with only TUI doing charter operations, but we’re already back on the growth track,” she confirms.
A reduction in its services by Ryanair didn’t help either. “It was the dominating airline but now it just flies to Budapest from here,” Aalto acknowledges.
The airport is looking to attract more direct traffic as it can already offer three excellent hubs which, with one change, can offer customers easy worldwide connections. “Obviously there is Helsinki, which is served from here by Finnair. Then there are Stockholm Arlanda with SAS and Riga with airBaltic, which is developing a better network all the time.”
The demographic for the Finavia-owned airport includes many high-value industries such as ICT and computing, imaging, automotive, intelligent machines plus health and wellbeing. “All that means that Tampere is a very good market for yields,” Aalto concludes.