Gustav Hemming, a member of the Swedish Centre Party, is a commissioner for the environment, archipelago and regional planning on the Stockholm County Council. From his room in the County Council building located on Hantverkargatan, a stone’s throw from Stockholm City Hall, he has a finger in many pies involving the future of the Stockholm region – from mass transit and new residential areas to sustainability issues and, of course, Stockholm Arlanda Airport. For Gustav Hemming, air travel is a major concern.
Gustav Hemming likes to compare Stockholm to a bumble bee. It flies even though it shouldn’t, while Stockholm is in actuality too small to be as good as it is.
“We’re the fastest growing metropolitan region in Europe. At some point between 2030 and 2040, we’ll have three million inhabitants – almost as many as Berlin. And if we include Uppsala and the Mälaren Valley in the region, that figure will be reached even faster. Stockholm will soon be not a small city but a mid-sized city. However, that’s based on us having international access, in which case Arlanda’s importance can’t be overestimated. A dynamic airport is essential for development.
“The Stockholm region has a strong business sector, with many head offices, innovative industries, a thriving research environment and an increasingly international population. If we want to have a global society and be an international and attractive city, we can’t ignore the importance of air travel. At the same time, it’s a challenge. Climate change is a vital issue, and we can’t close our eyes to the environmental impact of air travel. If any region in Europe needs air travel, it’s Stockholm, so it’s a matter of having air travel that is as environmentally efficient as possible. But the basic approach cannot be hostility to air travel. The basic approach must be that the environmental problems associated with air travel have to be solved with technological advances and planning, not by restricting an extremely important service to Sweden and the region. What happens if we destroy the essential conditions needed for social and economic sustainability? It is instead a matter of finding synergies,” says Gustav Hemming.
“The contribution that we at the Stockholm City Council can make to the development of Arlanda is to work in concrete terms with access and make sure that there’s good, environmentally-efficient mass transit. There’s low-hanging fruit here, from an environmental perspective. We can defend the need and requirements for good air links, and we can think carefully in our regional planning so that we’re not a factor that restricts Arlanda’s growth potential. We also need to have crystal-clear laws so that individual stakeholders cannot subsequently submit their views on what are essential operations to Sweden.”
“It’s important to clarify the Swedish State’s role in access. That means financial return requirements should not be such that our most vital airport doesn’t have the funds to invest in development, which enables it to compete with Copenhagen and Helsinki Airports. The expansion now under way is positive, but Arlanda should be seen as a national resource, whose profits come not from airport charges but from growing tax revenue from growing and successful companies. The State should also have to give government agencies an even more explicit task to work for increased access. Perhaps we can set up partnerships that provide increased support for direct flights to Asia, for instance.”
“In order for us to strengthen the infrastructure around Arlanda, public sector actors have a responsibility. Regarding the expansion of underground railway lines, we’ve signed agreements with local authorities in which some of the revenue from constructing housing can be linked to co-financing for the underground system and other infrastructure investments. In the same way, revenue generated from the development of residential and office properties in the vicinity of Arlanda could fund other efforts to promote access.
“The development of the Stockholm region is not just an issue for Stockholm. I’m convinced that a strong capital city with good access is a really good foundation for the development of Sweden as a whole. One of the reasons that the head offices of Sweden’s basic industries and export sector are still located in this country is that Stockholm is a well-functioning capital. Growth in Stockholm and growth in Sweden are intertwined in a large ecosystem.”
ARLANDA IN TEN YEARS
“Since Bromma Stockholm’s licence expires in 2038, I think Arlanda has become the most important airport in Sweden. There are problems with noise exposure, which prevents residential construction in attractive parts of the region, and in that case I think it’s better to instead combine all air travel at one airport with good access. This also means that we need to start planning for a fourth runway, and the study carried out on behalf of the government indicates that the work must begin soon in order for it to be completed in time.
“In ten years, Arlanda will have direct service to a number of important cities in eastern Asia, a region that is constantly growing in importance to us. We’ve signed an agreement that gives us access to preclearance, so that travellers to America can pass through US border control while they are still at Arlanda. The work on a new runway, or perhaps even two new runways for take-off, has to get going. Mass transit options for getting to the airport have improved, especially once the new four-track railway between Stockholm and Uppsala is completed. That aspect is moving forward a little too slowly right now,” Gustav Hemming believes.
“Arlanda also matches the best airports in the world in terms of the range of products and services on offer and level of comfort. Today the airport is pleasant but ranks below Copenhagen and Helsinki in terms of its freshness of décor and international feel.”
ARLANDA IN 50 YEARS
“After 2060, there may be four million people living in the region, surpassing Copenhagen. We won’t be a megacity like London or Paris, but we’ll be the perfect size without the disadvantages of a megacity in terms of distances and crowding. In 2070, Arlanda will be an even more important crossroads than today and also an important showcase – in fact, a really fine showcase. People arriving here and people flying out will think Arlanda is an exciting, fun place to be. If we’re to achieve this, visions and major efforts are needed – patching and mending bit by bit won’t be enough.”
BORN:1972 in Skinnskatteberg, Sweden
OCCUPATION: Politician, Centre Party
CURRENTLY: Commissioner for the environment, archipelago and regional planning on the Stockholm County Council
TRAVELS: to South Korea and Seoul
When I travel on my own
“I really like to travel by train, so I choose that when I travel in Sweden. I prefer to fly for trips abroad. Right now I don’t have a car, although I got my driving licence in 2011. When I travel in the county of Stockholm, I take public transport or bike if I can. I live near Fridhemsplan in central Stockholm, and there’s also really good bus service from there. The last domestic flight I took was to Kiruna in the north, but I actually took the train one way to see how the railway network functioned.
“Since I’m really tall, I would appreciate more flexible seats on planes. Instead of having to pay for Business Class, I would like to be able to buy leg room by the centimetre. That would be good.”
“There are many really fine cities, but I think by far the most fun thing is to see new places. A while ago, I was on a business trip to Seoul and had a day to myself. I thought South Korea and Seoul were both different and fantastically exciting, in fact more exciting than Japan, so I’ll go back. And we should also have direct flights there from Arlanda.”