Data always points you in the way of valuable insights, and as the year comes to an end, we’ve found the data that confirms the whereabouts of Santa Claus - well at least where lots of airlines and presumably passengers believe he lives for most of the year. An airport with the coordinates of 025.49.49E Longitude and 66.33.53N Latitude might give some a clue as to the location and its remoteness. Another clue is in the fact that it is effectively unused from March through to November each year. Rovaniemi Airport (RVN) is where all the seasonal holiday action seems to be, and the airport experiences a very short period of intense activity as families flock to catch Santa at home before he heads out on Christmas Eve.
An Airport With No International Summer Demand
It’s very unusual to find any airport in the world where there is no international summer demand but Rovaniemi is not a usual airport. As the data below shows there are no scheduled flights to the airport throughout the traditional peak months in Western Europe. However, by December there are 50,000 seats operated, a dramatic change in airline capacity that obviously requires meticulous planning.
But why the sudden increase in capacity? We're sure we can leave that to your imagination.
Whatever the reason for the seasonal short period of international capacity, UK visitors seem most attracted to Rovaniemi, accounting for around 40% of all flights operated. Assuming that every flight is full in December, around 23,000 passengers will fly to the capital city of the Arctic Circle.
Typical flight times from the nine UK airports that have flights to Rovaniemi are around three and a half hours. Tui, easyJet and Ryanair are the three airlines operating, which gives you an idea of the market. Slightly longer flights of over four hours are required from Italy, the second largest market where once again Ryanair and easyJet have a significant proportion of capacity. The longest sector - at over five hours - is operated by Iberia from Madrid to the Arctic Circle. Not surprisingly, Saturdays are the busiest days of the week as twenty-nine flights are operated; both easyjet and Ryanair operating five flights, and Finnair with their domestic service up to eleven flights making the airport extremely busy for at least four weekends a year.
Aside from international capacity, there is of course a regular service to Helsinki operated by Finnair, but even they reduce frequency in the summer season as demand slips away and capacity is allocated elsewhere across Europe. As the map below shows scheduled services are very much on a “North South” basis.
Rovaniemi Network Map, December 2023
We think that there are very few airports in the world such as Rovaniemi that cater for such a niche market, or indeed one very special person. Hopefully at the end of the year we’ve “sleighed” you with some interesting data!