MIAMI – Sweden has quietly announced the closure of Bromma Airport (BMA), its third-largest airport and the nearest one to the capital, Stockholm.

The reasons behind the decision are multiple. However, the devastating effects of the pandemic on air travel and a particularly Swedish growing social sentiment coined ‘flygskam’, or flight shame, a movement led by environmental activist Greta Thunberg, are two of them.

The news was reported by the French newspaper Le Figaro Economie, which compared the Swedish decision to a French one when the latter temporarily closed down Paris-Orly (ORY) airport. BMA lies just 7 km from downtown Stockholm. The airport has been in operation since 1936 when Sweden King Gustav V inaugurated the first European airport. The airport had a paved runway from its very beginning.

"The airport is no more commercially viable." Swedavia, speaking about Bromma Airport Click To Tweet
Photo: Bromma Airport

Dismal Numbers at BMA

Until 2019, BMA airport had 2.4 million passenger traffic, placing it in third place nationally. BMA was mostly dedicated to domestic flights. Today’s BMA is only a shadow of what it used to be with only a few daily flights to Malmö (MMX), Gotland Island Visby (VBY), or Angelholm (AGH).

“The airport is no more commercially viable,” says Swedavia, a public enterprise that manages the ten most important airports in Sweden, citing 2020 traffic at only 480,000 passengers. Even worse, the figures for March 2021 show only 6,000 travelers transiting BMA, a fall of 97% compared to 2019.

Stockholm-Arlanda Airport – Photo : Creative Commons Attribution

As previously stated, the decline at BMA is not only due to the coronavirus. The “flygskam” movement has played a predominant role in the airport’s demise, as it finger-points those who chose to travel by air and thus contribute to a negative carbon print.

Already in 2018, the movement had brought down domestic air traffic by 3% and to 9% in 2019 combined with a 2% downturn on international travel.

Today, BMA traffic stands at the same level registered in 1980. This convinced the Minister for Environment, Per Bolund, along with his colleague Tomas Eneroth who is in charge of Infrastructure, that the closure of BMA was inevitable.

Air traffic can be absorbed by Stockholm-Arlanda International Airport (ARN) 40km away from the capital city.

The closure of BMA has also gained support from the Sweden Green party, which sees it as a step toward making Sweden carbon-neutral by 2045, and strangely enough, from Braathens Regional Airways (TF), which operates domestic services and is based at BMA.

Braathens Regional Atr72-500 SE-MDI – Photo: John Leivaditis/Airways

What’s to Come?

The decision does not make everyone happy, though. BMA was the beneficiary of US$162m in investments and a new terminal was recently added. The now-defunct plans were to close the airport in 2038 when ARN would get a second runway. In the words of Jan Olsson, a financial analyst, “Bromma has been a milking cow for over 85 years.”

The actual date of the closure of BMA will be published after a public inquiry is carried out. As for its future, the airport may become a new and well situated residential area only a few kilometers away from the city.

Featured image: Stockholm-Bromma AZirport. Photo: Tomas er, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons