Suspension of Passenger Flights from the UK to Finland to Continue until 11 January

Passenger flights from the United Kingdom to Finland were suspended for two weeks on 21 December by Decision of the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom. In accordance with an opinion issued by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Traficom has now decided to extend the suspension period until 11 January 2021.

In a risk assessment published on 29 December 2020, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control stated that the new COVID-19 variant detected in the UK is transmitted significantly more rapidly than the earlier strains of the virus. The new variant thus has the potential to cause an epidemic that spreads much faster and places extreme pressure on the capacity of the healthcare system.

As of 31 December 2020, THL has reported two infections caused by the new mutated variant of the coronavirus in passengers who arrived in Finland from the United Kingdom. Similar cases have been detected in several other countries, leading many to place restrictions on travel by air and other means to countries with a high incidence of coronavirus variants.

THL considers that the current state of the epidemic in Finland is serious, with effective measures needed to restrict and control its transmission. The new mutated variant of the virus constitutes a significant threat, which should be effectively prevented from spreading in Finland. In partnership with a number of other actors, THL has initiated measures designed to identify all passengers arriving in Finland from the UK and direct them to take a coronavirus test and quarantine. As more information is still needed on the epidemiology of the new virus variant as well as on the extent of its spread and the required control measures, it is the view of THL that extending the suspension of passenger flights arriving from the UK for a minimum of one week as of 4 January 2021 is necessary and proportionate with regard to the threat caused by the pandemic. The situation will be reviewed as more information becomes available.

On the basis of the opinion issued by THL, Traficom has decided to extend the suspension of passenger flights from the United Kingdom to Finland until 11.59 on 11 January 2021. Traficom's previous Decision imposed a suspension for the period from 12.00 on 21 December 2020 until 11.59 on 4 January 2021.

The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency is the competent authority in aviation safety, security in civil aviation and aircraft noise. Traficom may, for reasons of public order and safety, prohibit an aircraft from departing, order it to land, require identification, assign a heading or flight altitude or otherwise intercept an aircraft in flight. 

Further information and enquiries

Jarkko Saarimäki, Deputy Director-General, jarkko.saarimaki(at)traficom.fi, Twitter @Saarimaki.
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