Historical collaboration: Finavia staff learning at Asia’s largest airport

People & Aviation
Published
17.10.2016 - 07:00
Press release
Finavia and Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) with its 90 million annual passengers have launched a staff exchange programme in October. The goal is to learn about Chinese service culture and deploy this new knowledge at Helsinki Airport services. Chinese passengers are the fastest growing passenger group at Helsinki Airport and a significant source of growth for Finavia.

- It is fantastic for our staff to visit the world’s second largest airport and to see its day-to-day work and practices first-hand. We’re looking forward to a unique, useful and unforgettable experience, says Kaarina Soikkanen, Director of Administration and Personnel at Finavia.

Finavia staff will spend two weeks learning the Chinese service culture at BCIA.

- Our staff will participate in practical tasks in several units and thus get to know the Chinese service culture and the needs of Chinese passengers from varying points of view. We hope to bring home new insights and practical skills on how we can better serve Chinese passengers at Helsinki Airport and our other airports, for example in Lapland, says Soikkanen.

Finavia and Capital Airports Holding Company (CAH), operating over 40 airports in China, entered into a cooperation agreement in January 2016, under which Helsinki and Beijing Airports became sister airports.

This staff exchange is among the first, concrete actions arising from the agreement and the first exchange to include operational airport staff for both Finavia and BCIA.

- Beijing Airport staff will, in turn, visit Finland during spring 2017. The next Finavia group will visit Beijing in approximately one year from now, says Soikkanen.

Focus on services for the Chinese

Finavia’s growth is heavily focused on Asia, China especially. The number of Chinese passengers at Helsinki Airport increased by approximately 50 percent in 2014-2015. Helsinki Airport is a significant hub for air travel between Europe and Asia, providing the fastest and shortest route between the two continents.

- Our aim is to make our Chinese passengers’ visit as easy and smooth as possible. One of the main challenges has been the language barrier, as not all Chinese tourists speak English, says Helsinki Airport Director Ville Haapasaari from Finavia.

"It has become significantly easier for Chinese passengers to navigate at the airport as they have become able to communicate in their own language."

Finavia launched a Chinese-speaking guide service in June 2016 at Helsinki Airport. The service has been very well received – in only two months, over 20,000 Chinese passengers received personal service in their own language.

- It has become significantly easier for Chinese passengers to navigate at the airport as they have become able to communicate in their own language, says Haapasaari.

Finavia has also provided Helsinki Airport staff with cultural courses.

- Our airport staff has an admirable service attitude. Many have studied different cultures also independently in order to serve all nationalities the best possible way. A big part of our success is because of our airport staff, Haapasaari says.

In addition, Finavia has focused on adding Chinese signage and increasing the amount of Chinese-speaking store staff at Helsinki Airport. In addition, the airport’s website is available in Chinese. Even more, Helsinki Airport has social media accounts in the Chinese services, Weibo and Youku.

Helsinki Airport, operated by Finavia, ranks as the fifth largest in Europe by the number of Asian connections. In 2016, Helsinki Airport services 17 direct destinations in Asia. Five of those destinations are in China: Chongqing, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an.