Monday, May 31, 2021

Finnair Criticizes Finland’s Latest Decision to Keep Borders Closed Until Late Summer

The largest Finnish airline, Finnair, has criticised the Social and Health Ministry for the newly imposed travel restrictions, as the airline claims that they don’t comply with the EU’s provisional consensus on the COVID-19 travel pass issued by the bloc, reports.

The proposal mentioned above obliges passengers to quarantine for 72 hours if they fail to present a negative COVID-19 test, a vaccination certificate or recovery proof from the virus within the past six months. 

According to Topi Manner, the CEO of Finnair, Finland opening at a slower pace than other countries is putting Helsinki at risk as a gateway and hub between Asia and Europe.

In a last week’s press release, Manner said the restriction would affect the country’s “heavily hit tourism industry”, which is about 2.7 per cent of the country’s GDP and “must be allowed to recover when the vaccination coverage enables to open up safe travelling.”

He also noted that, unlike Finland, 23 Schengen countries had lifted their entry requirements for travellers if they present a COVID-19 passport or come from low-risk countries.

As for now, Finland has removed the entry restriction requirement only for Iceland, Israel, Thailand and, according to the Finnish Minister of Interior, residents living in the bordering towns of Finland and Norway are too free from the requirement of undergoing quarantine upon arrival.

Despite the European traffic being slightly recovered, the number of Finnair passengers in April decreased by 6.3 per cent compared to March. Last year, Finnair’s passenger figures dropped 77 per cent compared to 2019, causing €163 million in losses by Christmas.

The government, which owns 55.8 per cent of shares in the company, has supported Finnair during the pandemic, covering its operations with grants. Previously, the European Commission approved a government loan of €351,38 million in a bid to help the company recover losses recorded during the pandemic.

During the first period of compensation, which started in March and ended in June 2020, the fund was used to reimburse Finnair for the losses caused by the travel restrictions whereas, in the second period of reimbursement starting in July, the grant will be allocated to recover from the remaining travel restrictions.

Finnair is one of the leading airline companies in Finland, with nearly 15 million passengers in 2019, 67 per cent of the total passengers entering and leaving Finland in 2019. The flag carrier operated with 59 planes, flying to more than 130 destinations, mainly focused in Europe and Asia.

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