Vantaa mayor sounds economy warning, as Finnair cuts 700 staff

Mayor Ritva Viljanen says in the worst case scenario Vantaa's economy - driven in large part by the airport and its associated businesses - will collapse.

File picture of Vantaa Mayor Ritva Viljanen at press briefing, 20th October 2020 / Credit: City of Vantaa

The Mayor of Vantaa has sounded the economic alarm bell for her city, saying the impact of coronavirus, in particular connected to the airport and travel restrictions, will be deeply damaging to the area.

“The airport has directly or indirectly employed 100,000 people and the area is responsible for up to 4% of Finland’s gross domestic product” Ritva Viljanen said at a Tuesday briefing.

The mayor described it as a “horror picture” if flights don’t return to normal until 2024, as some analysts have predicted, and said the unemployment rate in Vantaa has doubled in the last year to 14.3%.

Her comments come as the national airline Finnair announced more job cuts: with 600 staff being made redundant in Finland, and a further 100 staff laid off overseas as it continues to make rapid changes to its business operations.

“In the worst case, Finnair is just the beginning and Vantaa’s economy will collapse at the same time” says Mayor Viljanen.

Tuesday’s Finnair announcement comes after co-determination talks which started in September. The redundancies will be implemented by the end of March 2021.

The number of job cuts was not as high as expected.

“I’m grateful that together with our employees, we were able to find savings solutions which helped us to save approximately 150 jobs at Finnair” says CEO Topi Manner.

“Despite of that, this is a very sad day at Finnair. The corona pandemic has been completely unfair to our industry and unfortunately many Finnair employees now must experience its financial implications personally” he says in a statement.