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Steering world-class airports

15.3.2017 at 18:00
Though Finland is sparsely populated and could be considered a geographical outlier, the country is very well connected in terms of air travel. Accessibility is a key factor in the competitiveness of our nation in world markets. Likewise, Finavia’s competitive environment is international and therefore we aim for excellence on a global scale in all our operations.

Competition between airports is considerable as their efforts are directed towards the same airlines and passengers, as well as towards the opening of new routes. Competitive trump cards include a high level of service, cost efficiency and responsible operations. Helsinki Airport has ranked remarkably in recent polls. In a Travellink passenger survey it ranked number one in the world, and in a corresponding poll by Skytrax, it finished 15th globally and thus the best in the Nordics.

As air travel is expected to significantly increase in the coming years, all airport operators have opportunities for growth and a strong desire to better their operations. To prepare for this growth, in 2014 Finavia launched an extensive investment programme, which extends from Helsinki Airport to airports in Lapland, and from runways to the development of the passenger experience. The idea is that our main airport, Helsinki Airport, can alone serve 20 million passengers per annum from 2020 onwards, whereas currently that figure corresponds to nearly all the traffic across all of Finavia’s 21 airports.

A commercial and social actor  

According to a survey conducted at the end of 2015, 69 per cent of Finns think that Finavia operates partly or wholly on tax revenue. Finavia is a state-run, but completely commercial operator; the company does not benefit from tax revenue. Finavia's turnover, which in 2016 was a substantial EUR 381 million, comprises services offered to airlines and passengers. This past year promises good things for the company moving forward, as both passenger volumes and profitability rose to record levels. 

Airports are key to Finland’s accessibility and competitiveness.

Finavia has a socially significant role as an employer and tax payer. In addition, airports have an invaluable impact on the accessibility and competitiveness of Finland, as extensive and reliable connections are critical prerequisites for business and tourism. The movement of people and goods within, between and through nations is only increasing, and no other mode of transportation offers international connections that are as fast as flying.  

Broad route options and expectations exceeding service

The role of Helsinki Airport is essential to Finavia’s success. First, its crucial function as a transit airport between Europe and Asia ensures exceptional international flight connections in relation to the size of our country; Helsinki Airport operates flights to 17 Asian destinations. Second, the revenue generated by Helsinki Airport is used to finance a broad network of regional airports, making the entire country easily accessible.  

From a passenger’s perspective, the airport is not only appealing because of its accessibility and route options, but also due to its smooth operations and high standards of service. Passengers with a connecting flight appreciate the compact nature of the airport and its short transfer times. However, as passengers tend to spend some time at the airport regardless, it goes without saying that a proper meal and pleasantly furnished waiting lounge wins over a snack from the vending machine and grey corridors. Finavia has invested significantly in their airports to offer passengers everything from artisan cafés and specialty stores, to play areas and GoSleep sleeping pods. 

The role of Helsinki Airport is crucial to the success of Finavia.

The airport's operational reliability, efficiency and affordability are important factors for airline customers. Despite varying weather conditions and the harsh and long winters in the north, Finland’s airports are always open. Our internationally renowned SnowHow and maintenance expertise are based on foresight, equipment and cooperation. Turnaround times for planes at our airports are at a record low, thereby improving cost efficiency and enabling low-cost airport charges. Out of Europe’s major airports, Helsinki Airport is the fourth least expensive for airlines. 

A customer experience made up of several elements

Since Finavia’s objective is to strengthen its competitive position as part of the best of the best when it comes to airports, performance and effectiveness are continuously fine-tuned. It is equally important for us to do so with regard to responsibility as well. Finavia's goal is to achieve carbon neutrality and we are working even harder to reduce emissions. In addition to the expansion and improvement works that are part of the investment programme, we are also focusing on improving the customer experience.

The smoothness of operations and different types of passenger requirements are the focal points of the development of our digital solutions and of our staff’s service training. No airport staff member merely works at the airport: A willingness to serve is part of the job description that applies to all those working at the airport.

The idea, and what we strive for, is that a passenger can ask for assistance from a security control officer, a shop clerk and a baggage handler and receive the same high quality response. For Smooth Travelling is a service promise carried out by all airport professionals to ensure that our passengers’ travel experience is as safe, pleasurable and cost effective as possible. 

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Developing Helsinki Airport as a leading transit airport is at the core of Finavia's strategy. This, in turn, benefits our network of airports and the entire country. The company’s strong results allow us to further improve our performance capacity, accountability and customer focus.

This article is part of Finavia’s annual report 2016. Click here to view the full annual report.