Located a 10-minute drive from Levi, Kittilä Airport conceals some amazing wonders and experts in snow. Jonna Pietilä, Regional Director of Lapland at Finavia, describes what makes her proud in the everyday comings and goings of the airport.
“It’s always fun to land in Lapland in the wintertime with foreign passengers in the same plane. People often stop immediately as they step outside the plane and start taking photos of the snow. They are wowed even by the fact that here, in the middle of nowhere, we have a working, bustling airport where planes can land in any weather.
Although the airport is a facility that you enter and exit quickly, this place conceals some amazing wonders: for instance, the ability to tackle the winter and our Finnish snowhow are skills known all across the world.
The runway is practically always kept in summer conditions, even when it’s snowing heavily and the temperatures drop well below zero. Our most important tool and the heart of the airport is our friction cart that measures runway friction. We use the results to decide how to maintain the runway. Sometimes the runway is brushed and, if that’s not enough, we use de-icing chemicals. You only learn the right tactic through experience, and our maintenance crew has plenty of that.
Feeling safe at the airport
Finavia has a permanent staff of 13, mainly maintenance staff and service advisers. In addition to Finavia, a ground handling service also operates in Kittilä. The service takes care of check-in and gets the passengers and their luggage in and out of the planes.
Recently, health security has obviously become a priority in our job. We want to do everything we can so that people would feel safe at the airport. We try to make sure that safe distances are maintained, no bottlenecks are formed and everything goes quickly. We have a culture of helping and try to help passengers already before they even ask for help. A small airport makes this possible.
Although the Kittilä Airport serves tourism and the locals in the region of Lapland in many ways, what makes it unique in the world is the crowd-puller Levi, located only a ten-minute drive from the airport.
I’ve lived in Levi since summer 2019. It feels incredible that I get to live here; I have my own house in Levi and I can enjoy my favourite hobbies: cross-country and downhill skiing and snowmobiling. When I moved here, I knew that the ski slopes are excellent, but I was also extremely positively surprised by the cross-country ski trails in Levi. There’s a wide range of trails with varying profiles and they’re always in prime condition. That, to me, has been a real wow factor.”