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NEWS Last modified on November 8, 2016

Huge demand for Shannon's Santa flights as Lapland's airports prepare for the Xmas rush

It is that most wonderful time of the year when our thoughts begin to turn to Christmas, and Santa clearly remains a firm favourite among kids around the world with Shannon Airport reporting huge demand for its annual Xmas flights and Lapland's airports preparing for a record number of visitors.

As of today, Shannon Airport reveals that it has attracted 90,000 applications for just 2,000 seats on its very special services to meet Santa in the sky on December 3rd and 4th.

Applications have been received from right across the country, flooding in from each one of the 32 counties and, indeed, from as far afield as the UK.

The top ten counties in terms of applications include Clare, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Tipperary, accounting for over 60% of the applications.

Matthew Thomas, CEO of airport operator Shannon Group, says: “We are delighted at the incredible demand for these flights but can’t say we’re entirely surprised. Is there really a better draw than Santa?

“Airports are a magical place at Christmas as they are where homecomings really begin for so many families at this special time of year, not least at Shannon with such a large percentage of passengers flying in to spend time with families from Cork right up to the North West.

“But for us, Christmas really begins on the first weekend of December when we will welcome children and adults from far and wide for the Santa flights. It would be impossible to satisfy the demand but not far off 2,000 children will go away extremely happy that weekend from here and that’s a lot of happy young faces.”

A nominal price of €9.99 applies for each Santa Flight seat, which are still available on the airport’s website www.shannonairport.ie  until midnight tomorrow, after which the lucky winners with the winners chosen by lottery.

The event acts a fundraiser for the Shannon Group’s designated charities – this year they are Galway’s Ábalta Special School for children with autism and complex needs and the Irish Children’s Arthritis Network (iCAN).
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Meanwhile in Finland, Finavia's airports in Lapland are preparing for the winter season when they are expected to welcome 500 charter and scheduled flights in December alone, making it the busiest Xmas period since 2007.

Measured by the number of charter flights, the busiest airports of the month will once again be Kittilä (150) and Rovaniemi (140).

Elsewhere, Finavia reveals that the number of charter services to Ivalo is expected to grow "significantly" from 57 in 2015 to 93 this year. Fellow Lap gateways Enontekiö and Kuusamo are also anticipating 58 and 11 charter flights respectively.

The majority of tourists will come from Britain with high numbers also expected from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, France and Spain.
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"Attracting new routes has been successful in Lapland," admits Joni Sundelin, senior vice president of Finavia.

"Finland is now trending in many ways: Lonely Planet selected Finland among the top three travel destinations in 2017.

"We have an excellent opportunity to offer such wonderful service experiences to travellers that they want to come back and also recommend Finland to their friends."

Finavia has invested €35 million on upgrading its Lapland airports over the last two years in addition to stepping up its marketing efforts with the airlines and tour operators. 

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Joe Bates

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