If you want to travel from Helsinki to Rovaniemi next Monday, a one-way ticket booked a week in advance at the Finnair website will set you back €354.
For the same price, give or take a few euros in either direction, you could instead fly to New York, Miami, Boston in North America; Tel Aviv, Dubai, Cairo or Istanbul in the Middle East; or Hong Kong, Beijing and Bangkok in Asia.
While Finnair is often dogged by complaints about the sky high price of domestic travel, at Christmas time the differences are much more stark. And while it might be high season for tourists, it’s just another month of the year for the many people who don’t have eight hours to sit on a train and need to take a flight for work or personal reasons between the capital, and the Lapland city.
Finnair explains ticking pricing issues
Finnair says ticket prices depend on a number of factors including how long it is from time of purchase to the departure of the flight; how full the aircraft is; and expected demand for the flight – with forecasts “based on historical data and statistical and probability calculus.”
Still, if you want to stick with Finnair next Monday you could fly two people from Helsinki to Nice in the south of France; or two people to Amsterdam with Finnair tickets for cheaper than a one way flight to Rovaniemi.
And keeping it in Europe, with other airline tickets booked using the same criteria a week in advance, you can fly four people direct from Helsinki to Amsterdam; three people to Paris; or two people to Madrid and still have money to spare from the cost of the €354 ticket to Rovaniemi.
The Lapland perspective
Timo Rautajoki, CEO of the Lapland Chamber of Commerce, says the internal flight prices on Finnair are high, but they’re better than they used to be just a few years ago.
“It has been much worse and I think now Finnair has been increasing flights here so there are more than normal. Last year it was an average price from Rovaniemi to Helsinki and back about €550” he tells News Now Finland.
“Last Christmas and especially one year before that the highest price I have ever been paying was €720 because I had to go to Helsinki within a couple of days” he says.
Rautajoki says he’s experimented with driving the 200km from Rovaniemi to Oulu, where flight prices with Finnair to Helsinki are only about €200 return. But making the long drive between the two northern cities, especially in winter weather, is not ideal.
Nowegian also has one flight a day between Helsinki and Rovaniemi but locals say the lunchtime flight schedule is not ideal for business travelers.
Timo Rautajoki says what Finnair needs is more robust competition on the lucrative route.
“I have never been flying Norwegian, it’s too short a time in Helsinki. It’s not good timings. Why is there only one flight?” he asks.
“Rovaniemi is the third busiest airport when you look at passenger numbers. Helsinki is huge, then Oulu about one million passengers per year, then Rovaniemi with 650,000 or 700,000 passengers. So why is Norwegian not interested to fly more than once per day to Rovaniemi” says Rautajoki.
Getting the market right
Finnair says that their price levels “like any other consumer product, depend on market situation, meaning demand and offering.”
With tourism to Lapland increasing at all times of the year, local businesses do understand the need to fight against climate change, and improve sustainability.
But in the absence of a high speed rail link to Rovaniemi, for many people flying is the best option – if it wasn’t so expensive.
“This is a long country, with long distances, and we need flights and make their carbon footprint the smallest possible – using modern planes, bigger planes, more seats and more direct flights. That would be very important to us” says Timo Rautajoki.
Finnair says they have added extra flights to Lapland, including to Rovaniemi, Kittilä and Ivalo for the Christmas period.
“The booking situation to Lapland is looking good for the whole winter season” says a spokesperson.
Flight comparison methodology:
On Monday 8th December we checked a one way flight from Helsinki to Rovaniemi on the Finnair website for the following Monday 16th December. The cost at that time was €354.
Then we checked flights for the same dates to more than two dozen destinations in Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East using the Skyscanner price comparison website.
We looked strictly at ticket prices, rather than the fastest or most convenient route.
A sample of some of the ticket prices we found:
- Helsinki to Dubai €354 (Aeroflot)
- Helsinki to Bangkok €374 (Air Sichuan)
- Helsinki to Cairo €150 (Ukraine Airlines)
- Helsinki to Madrid €125 (TAP Air Portugal)
- Helsinki to Beijing €356 (Air China)
- Helsinki to Amsterdam €163 (Finnair)
- Helsinki to Nice €161 (Air France)
- Helsinki to Paris €201 (Finnair)
- Helsinki to Miami €353 (TAP Air Portugal)