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The Skopje flights are suspended for two weeks

As of 28 August 2020, air service between Skopje in North Macedonia and Turku is suspended for two weeks. According to an opinion received by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, a temporary suspension of air service is, as a means, currently proportionate to restrict the spread of coronavirus.

Traficom has requested an opinion from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on the effects on health security of air service between Skopje in North Macedonia and Turku and on the question whether suspension of air service is the right means in this situation. According to the opinion received by Traficom, a temporary suspension of air service is, as a means, proportionate to the aim to protect the population from the spread of the generally hazardous disease.

In its opinion, THL considers that it can be deduced from testing and the measures adopted that, on the flights in question, there have been exceptionally many people that can spread the coronavirus infection and that the decision to impose a quarantine on all the passengers has been justified. The requirement on advance testing of passengers has reduced the risk of infection caused to other passengers, but the evidence on the materialisation and efficiency of advance testing is, however, not yet sufficient. 

In its opinion, THL states that because participation in tests performed in Finland is not extensive and because it is, in practice, not possible to supervise the materialisation of passengers’ quarantine, there is a possibility that the continuation of air service poses, despite the current measures, a risk of spreading infections among the population.

Based on the opinion of THL, Traficom has decided to suspend air service between Skopje in North Macedonia and Turku for two weeks, from 28 August to 10 September 2020. There would have been one flight per week. The decision does not concern other air service.

Traficom has made the decision under section 167 of the Aviation Act, and taking into account article 21 of the Air Services Regulation. According to the Regulation, it is possible to stop or limit air service to deal with sudden problems of short duration resulting from unforeseeable and unavoidable circumstances.

The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom is the competent authority in issues concerning flight safety, civil aviation security and noise. For reasons of public order and safety, Traficom may prohibit an aircraft from departing, order it to land, require identification, assign a heading or flight altitude or otherwise intercept an aircraft in flight. According to article 21 of the Air Services Regulation, a Member State may refuse, limit or impose conditions on the exercise of traffic rights to deal with sudden problems of short duration resulting from unforeseeable and unavoidable circumstances.

More information:

Decision restricting traffic rights on the route from Skopje in North Macedonia to Turku

Jarkko Saarimäki, Deputy Director-General, jarkko.saarimaki(at)traficom.fi, on Twitter @Saarimaki interview requests via media service of Traficom’s Communications Department, tel. +358 29 534 5648