At the same time, 188,000 fewer passengers took internal flights: a drop of three percent.
“It’s still growing, certainly, but not as much as previously,” Jean-Marie Skoglund, from the Swedish Transport Agency’s sea and air transport division, told Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT.
She said that more people were now conscious of the environmental impact of taking flights, and suggested that the flight tax could have had an effect.
“Private people are weighing up their travel in a completely different way from what they were doing previously,” she said. “Then we don’t yet know what effect the flight tax brought in in April has had.”
Skoglund said that the bankruptcy of NextJets, which operated business flights between Stockholm and many of Sweden’s smaller cities, had played a role in the drop in the number of internal flights.
Sweden’s flight tax, which came into effect on April 1, was set deliberately low, with all flights departing Swedish airports charged 60 SEK to 400 SEK per person, depending on the destination.
According to a poll for Dagens Nyheter, 53 percent of Swedes were in the favour of the new tax at the time it came in.
The four percent rise in the number of international flights still adds up to a significant 850,000 extra passengers, but this compares to the additional 1.7m passengers seen in previous years.
Erik Glans, an economist for Sweden’s National Institute of Economic Research, said that weather had also had an impact.
“We believe that the warm summer meant that people stayed home in Sweden to a greater extent than they usually do,” he said.