Karin Wanngård is the mayor of Stockholm, municipal commissioner for finance and chair of the City Executive Board. She also chairs Stockholm Business Region, which markets Stockholm as a place to visit and set up business operations there – and has the proud goal of soon making Stockholm the leading sustainable growth region in Europe.
For Karin Wanngård, Arlanda is, as she puts it, super-important as an airport.
“Of course, it benefits business and growth if it’s easy to get to and from Stockholm. It also makes the city a major tourist attraction. We see increasingly how tourism is on the rise. This year, it’s mostly tourists from China who are coming. Access is everything, and so is the fact that Arlanda is a major international airport. It’s an obvious factor in Stockholm working so well. Every day we work to encourage multinational companies to open offices around us, so a lot of this is dependent on air travel. This is also apparent in where they set up operations – they’re located north of the city, on the road to Arlanda. Stockholm Business Region is working to bring more direct routes here, but that requires Arlanda to function and be convenient – to have everything there that people need.”
Concerning air travel and openness
“I believe in people’s desire to be transported. I may have too much faith in this, but that’s my belief. We’re curious about seeing new parts of the world. Our companies need to work with this curiosity to attract labour from many different parts of the world. Air transport is really great since people can travel long distances in a short time. No other mode of transport can offer this. No other system is more time-efficient, and time is one of the most important things for both people and companies today.
“Aviation and travel are also excellent for getting influences. The more we travel and learn about other cultures, the greater our understanding is of what’s foreign. The fact that we move around a lot also benefits us when we discuss integration at home. Communication contributes to a more open society. The swirl of social media may give us an instant sense of things, but we only grasp them when we see reality close up. More people can find truths – it makes for a more transparent society.”
Concerning air travel and the environment
“I think it’s a problem that so far the air travel industry hasn’t been involved to any great extent in the switch to green jet fuel. This shift has gone pretty far, but the investment costs are enormous to get everything up and running. My hope, of course, is that there will still be air travel in the future but then the industry has to adopt new ways of thinking. Now there are new jumbo aircraft, and if a number of flights can be combined into one on a plane like that, it’s much better from an environmental perspective. Maybe airlines in the future can sell seats on a single aircraft instead of always having their own fleet?
“It’s also difficult to get an overall comparison of planes and trains from an environmental perspective. Then you have to compare the numbers overall, because building railways also has an environmental impact. Trains are good – not always an alternative to air travel, but a really good complement. We can only have one major airport, but then we need to have good rail links from Arlanda, so the system works as a whole,” Karin Wanngård argues.
“What I would like to see now is the development of Arlanda. I would like to see a fourth runway, and the region has to give things a push now. We’re pushing the matter, but the government also has to be involved in collaborative bodies. That doesn’t mean it has to be the minister, but clear collaboration is needed so that they understand the complexity. After all, it’s a question of starting now if we have to apply for an environmental permit for a fourth runway at Arlanda. The agreement for Bromma Stockholm runs out in 2038, and it must be completed by then. Prior to that, we have to gradually start shifting traffic and create the conditions needed to make airlines want to move their flights to Arlanda. While many ways it’s a practical airport, I’m not a big supporter of Bromma. If we are to compete in an international market and have an international airport, then we have to focus. And then domestic traffic also has to fly to Arlanda so that people can transfer right away to international flights. Both the State report from the spring of 2016 and things we are seeing in other countries point to this, so it’s good to make sure we’re developing Arlanda.”
“It’s important that the Swedish State acts and takes responsibility for the airport and the infrastructure that is needed around it. It also means that the State must fund the investments that are needed – this isn’t a local matter. So it’s important that the State has clear leadership. The key issues have to be airport operations and creating access for Sweden. Financial return requirements for the airport can’t be the overriding factor.
Arlanda in ten years “I think the airport has to be more of a place where people hang out than a place for shopping. It’s a question of attracting people with other activities. I can imagine myself going there a few hours early to work out at a gym where you rent clothes and a towel, and other services are available, like massages, if you need that. I think interest in shopping is declining as air travel becomes increasingly common. If you fly a number of times during the year, it’s no longer interesting buying perfume,” Karin Wanngård notes. “I also hope that there will a better selection of healthier food and certainly a greater focus on activities for children. It’s not easy to keep a two-year-old and a six-year-old occupied for two hours at an airport – just ask me. A bag of sweets only goes so far… And then we have the question of baggage. I would like to drop off my bags as soon as I get to the airport and also get them back just as fast when I land. It should be possible to do this more efficiently.” Arlanda in 2070
“I think it’s important that we create the right conditions together for Arlanda so that the airport can continue to compete with other airports. In ten years, access to a major international airport like Arlanda will probably be more important than today to Stockholm and the entire region,” says Karin Wanngård, who nonetheless would like to see a different range of products and services available at Arlanda in 2026.
“In 2070, Arlanda will be a bigger, more important growth engine. I also think that the trend of cities expanding, since more and more people want to live in urban areas, will make cities more important while countries as a whole will become less important in relative terms. The need for efficient, rapid transport between the airport and the city will increase, as will the need for hotels and conference facilities. Stockholm and Uppsala will continue to grow together – just look at what’s being built along the E4 motorway. I think Knivsta, north of Stockholm, is an excellent example of an area that could be exploited in an entirely different way.”
Arlanda in ten years
“I think the airport has to be more of a place where people hang out than a place for shopping. It’s a question of attracting people with other activities. I can imagine myself going there a few hours early to work out at a gym where you rent clothes and a towel, and other services are available, like massages, if you need that. I think interest in shopping is declining as air travel becomes increasingly common. If you fly a number of times during the year, it’s no longer interesting buying perfume,” Karin Wanngård notes.
“I also hope that there will a better selection of healthier food and certainly a greater focus on activities for children. It’s not easy to keep a two-year-old and a six-year-old occupied for two hours at an airport – just ask me. A bag of sweets only goes so far… And then we have the question of baggage. I would like to drop off my bags as soon as I get to the airport and also get them back just as fast when I land. It should be possible to do this more efficiently.”
Arlanda in 2070
BORN: 1975 in Ekerö, outside central Stockholm
OCCUPATION: Social Democratic politician, mayor of Stockholm, municipal counsellor for finance and chair of the City Executive Board.
CURRENTLY: Works as an opponent to a profit cap on welfare companies and as a representative promoting the Olympic Games in Stockholm in 2026
TRAVELS: to cities
When I travel on my own
“I travel a great deal in my job, and then I mostly fly to cities such as London, Paris and Brussels. It’s fun, but I really don’t manage to see very much. For leisure I travel with my family about once a year. Then it’s preferably Majorca or some other Mediterranean island and a practical, all-inclusive hotel. It’s important that the travel time isn’t too long when you travel with small children like we do, and also that there isn’t any long bus ride between the airport and the hotel. It doesn’t work to first have a flight of maybe three hours and then an hour or two in the bus before you get there.”
“I like big cities, especially European ones like London, Paris and Rome, but also New York. Of course, it would be really exciting to visit the Maldives, which of course is threatened by climate change, and maybe a country like Vietnam. Hong Kong would also be an interesting place to see.”
A fourth runway
In the study of Swedish air capacity that the government published in 2016, it was estimated that in 2040 40 million air passengers will pass through the Stockholm region, twice the volume today. That means Arlanda’s capacity needs to be expanded. One important component then, apart from enhanced infrastructure, is a new runway in the north-south direction, parallel to two of the existing runways. According to a previous study, this would increase the airport’s capacity to more than 120 aircraft movements an hour. In order to ensure Swedish air capacity, Swedavia has begun planning for a fourth runway.