Finnair announced late on Friday that they would restart passenger flights from the UK and Ireland from January 25, 2021. The airline had continued to fly to London with passengers, but the return leg has been only with cabin and cockpit crew.
The airline will require a negative Covid-19 certificate for all passengers destined to Finland from January 28, 2021. The Finnair requirement doesn’t apply to transit passengers.
Note that there is no such requirement from the Government of Finland, which strongly suggests that everyone who enters the country should check at the arrival point. It is unclear from Finnair’s press release what kind of results are accepted.
Here’s the press release from Finnair:
Finnair will re-start passenger flights from the UK and Ireland to Finland as of 25 January 2021, following the decision by the Finnish traffic authority, Traficom, to allow passenger flights from these countries.
In line with the recommendation by the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare, Finnair will also from 28 January onwards require that passengers present a certificate of a negative covid-19 test result, or a certificate of a previous covid-19 infection if they travel on any Finnair flight to Finland. This requirement does not apply to customers transferring at Helsinki Airport for their international connecting flights. The certificate requirement is in force until further notice.
“This requirement complements our other comprehensive measures both onboard and at airports to ensure safe travel during the pandemic”, says Jaakko Schildt, Chief Operating Officer, Finnair. “This is also in line with the increasing trend of countries requiring a negative test result for entry.”
The new test certificate requirement by Finnair does not change the procedures by the local health authorities upon arrival in Finland. All passengers arriving at Helsinki Airport from abroad are directed to covid-19 testing.
Finnair communicates the new requirement to its customers in all customer communications channels. Finnair staff will check the test certificate or other certificate at check-in or at the gate, and failure to provide the required document will result in boarding being denied. Customers can then postpone their travel by contacting Finnair. More information for customers is available in Finnair’s travel updates.
There is no law or mandate in place for Finnish citizens to be tested before they can enter Finland. The Finland’s constitution allows citizens to leave and return as they please (very few expectations such as outstanding warrants.
The government cannot mandate you to be tested (they can STRONGLY recommend), but infectious disease doctors can then order you to have a two-week quarantine (at your place). You are provided a stipend by the government if this order is mandated.
The National Institute for Health and Welfare of Finland strongly recommends that all arriving passengers be tested before entering, but this is neither law nor requirement.
I contacted Finnair’s communication department to determine if they would prefer Finnish citizens to enter Finland using other airlines, such as Lufthansa or SAS, that don’t have this requirement in place.
A statement we received from Finnair’s spokesperson:
The Finnish health authority, Institute of Healthe and Welfare strongly recommends airlines to require predeparture testing, and we have decided to implement this as of Jan 28. Most European countries require a negative covid-19 test for arrival, but Finland has not implemented this (due to constitutional questions).
As the national carrier of Finland, we want to contribute to ensuring that safe travel to Finland can continue. The first feedback from our customers to this additional health safety measure has been positive, but it naturally means extra effort for our customers traveling to Finland.
Here are my coronavirus testing experiences:
It is easy to circumvent this requirement. Just book a flight to Tallinn via Helsinki, and exit the airport. Finland currently has internal border checks in place, but they cannot prevent citizens and permanent residents from entering the country.
However, it is wise to conduct the complimentary Covid-19 upon arrival, and you will get the results, at least I did, within 24 hours.
I don’t quite understand why those living in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area who would like to take the Covid-19 test don’t just take a train to the airport and do the complimentary test there?
Alternatively, you must make an appointment that may not be the same day and wait for results for days, or pay a high price for a private clinic.
The government of Finland owns the majority of Finnair. Perhaps they have signaled the airline that they would like it to require these tests from incoming passengers. However, it is likely unlawful and unconstitutional for them (the government) to mandate one.
Earlier in the year, they tried to prevent Finnish citizens from leaving the country in the North, where Finnish and Swedish communities are intertwined.
Only after the media took notice, the Raja (Finnish border guard) had a look at the law and stopped preventing border traffic by the Finnish citizens.