Rovaniemi Airport in Finland is in the middle of large-scale improvements. The security checkpoint will receive a total facelift, passport control will be relocated, and the facilities of Customs will be renovated. Services will be upgraded with a new restaurant section and the comfort of the terminal area will receive special attention, in particular in the gate area following the security check.
– Security check lines are all but ready, and the construction of the restaurant section is well under way. The furniture in the gate area will be updated and the walls reimagined with the nature of the Arctic Circle in mind. If all goes as planned, we should be finished and ready in November, just before the start of the winter season, says Martti Oinas, Finavia's regional manager for Lapland and manager of Rovaniemi Airport.
Rovaniemi Airport is the official airport of Santa Claus.
The magic of Lapland comes alive in the airport restaurant through northern experiences: Operated by SSP Finland, the restaurant section will soon have reindeer meatballs and burgers on the menu. The restaurant will feature intriguing details like reindeer antler chandeliers. Shop selections have been designed together with the Santa Claus Foundation.
– Rovaniemi Airport serves as an important hub for tourism in Lapland, and we at Finavia wish to make our contribution. We need to improve the airport's ability to serve its customers, especially at peak times. The current upgrades will increase the level of service and remove bottlenecks from the terminal. This is our contribution that supports the efforts of the region's tourism operators, says Oinas.
There are five daily flights from Helsinki to Rovaniemi, operated by Finnair and Norwegian. During the winter season, the airport receives many charter flights with passengers who come to see the Santa Claus Village and other sights. Rovaniemi Airport is the official airport of Santa Claus.
– Right now the charter reservations are looking better than last year, but the situation may change.
First contact with Finland for international tourists
Activity at Finland's third largest airport changes with the travel seasons. Towards the end of the summer season, for example, air passengers number some 30,000 per month, whereas the peak months in winter will see as many as 100,000 passengers.
"We will offer a taste of the atmosphere of Lapland."
– More and more Asian passengers are coming in from Helsinki Airport, and just recently I flew to Rovaniemi next to a New Zealander, who was here for a conference trip. Our airport is the first contact many international passengers will have with Finland, and this first contact is now being improved to be smoother and more comfortable. We will offer a taste of the atmosphere of Lapland to the tourists who have come to experience it, says Oinas.
In addition to creating ambience, the renovations will make the terminal space more functional for both passengers and employees. One notable aspect will be the new elevator in the gate area that will improve the accessibility of the flight boarding buses for passengers with reduced mobility.
– There will be temporary airport arrangements while the work continues, but we aim to keep our services running. We do apologise for any inconvenience caused by the ongoing renovations, says Oinas.
The work will be completed before the winter season starts, but new projects are already in the making for next year. Runway surface work is planned for the summer of 2016, with simultaneous improvement of the runway lighting system. The runway project is still in its planning phases, which means that the schedule and the project's impact on traffic remain unclear.
Finavia focuses on the airports of Lapland in 2015
Finavia started a development programme of the airport network in early 2014 and the programme has continued in 2015. In 2015, the main focus has been on the development of the airports in Lapland. The investments are estimated to introduce 350 person-years' worth of employment. The major investments in 2015 go to Ivalo, Kittilä, Rovaniemi, Vaasa, Maarianhamina, and Joensuu.
Rovaniemi Airport was chosen as Airport of the Year for 2015 in May. The selection criteria emphasised the improvement of operational quality and cost efficiency as well as excellence in airport development.