The government will now appoint an inquiry to look into how the airport can close “as soon as possible”, Environment Minister Per Bolund, of the Green Party, and Social Democrat Infrastructure Minister Tomas Eneroth told a press conference on Wednesday.
A report is set to be presented in August, and the government would make a decision based on that. But the TT newswire writes that it is unclear whether such a decision would come ahead of the 2022 election, and the ministers did not offer a timeline.
Bromma was, after it opened in 1936, Stockholm’s main airport until Arlanda Airport was built further north of the city for international flights in the 1960s, and later took over most of the domestic traffic, too.
In 2019, when around 2.3 million people travelled via Bromma, it was Sweden’s third busiest airport, behind Arlanda and Gothenburg’s Landvetter. Those passenger figures dropped to 479,000 during the pandemic year of 2020, which hit Bromma the hardest out of Sweden’s airports (year-on-year traffic in January 2021 was down 98 percent).
The Green Party has long been pushing for a shutdown of Bromma. The Social Democrats have been reluctant, but last year a report by Sweden’s main airport operator Swedavia found no viable business reasons to keep it open, and suggested closing the aiport.
But the plans did not escape criticism on Wednesday.
“I find it difficult to understand the government’s reasoning. It’s not to do with climate and noise, because those are challenges the aviation industry will face. It’s not about the economy, because there are private stakeholders who are willing to take over Bromma from Swedavia. I can only interpret this as another sign of the government lacking a comprehensive aviation policy,” said Fredrik Kämpfe of the Swedish Confederation of Transport Enterprises, an umbrella organisation for transport firms in Sweden.
Bromma Airport is located just north-west of central Stockholm. Screenshot: GoogleMaps
The government inquiry will also look into how capacity could be increased at Arlanda Airport, including improving connections between the airport and central Stockholm. The fastest way of reaching Arlanda Airport is currently the Arlanda Express train, which takes 18 minutes but costs 299 kronor for an adult single ticket.
Bolund said that flights are at overcapacity today, and that there were good business reasons for gathering all of Stockholm’s air traffic in one place, rather than two airports. He argued that even before the pandemic Swedes were travelling more by train and demand for domestic flights had gone down, with 2018 being the turning point.
“There has never been a better moment for moving traffic to Arlanda,” he said.
It is unclear when and if Bromma will close, with the contract between Stockholm City and Swedavia currently running until 2038.
The government’s main opponents, the conservative Moderate Party, said that if they win the next election, they will try to ensure that the airport can continue operating until then.
“The decision is a catastrophe for domestic flights,” the Moderates’ traffic spokesperson Maria Stockhaus told TT.