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Finnish lessons – Key takeaways from Beijing airport staff’s exchange programme in Finland

Article published
14.3.2018 at 11:27
Employees from the world’s second largest airport visited Helsinki and Rovaniemi to learn from Finnish airport know-how.

The cooperation between Finavia and Chinese airports continued in 2017, as staff from Beijing Capital International Airport familiarised themselves with Helsinki and Rovaniemi airports.

The two-week exchange programme, which took place in early December 2017, is part of a multi-year cooperation agreement between Finavia and Capital Airports Holding Company, which operates over 40 airports in China. Helsinki Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport became sister airports in 2016.

In 2016, Finavia staff members spent two weeks in Beijing, learning about Chinese service culture. Last year, it was time for their counterparts from Beijing to pay a visit to Finland and gain insight into Finnish airport operations.

“During the two weeks, the visitors had the opportunity to learn about Helsinki and Rovaniemi airports from several different angles,” says Sami Laine, HR Partner at Finavia, who was in charge of the exchange programme in Finland.

These are some of the things the visitors from Beijing discovered in Finland:

Finnish winter maintenance and snow-how

One of the most interesting parts of the visit at both Helsinki and Rovaniemi airports involved winter maintenance and Finnish snow-how.

“The guests got to know our de-icing systems and snow removal vehicles. We offered them practical information and experiences from Helsinki Airport’s winter maintenance,” says Mika Järvinen, Apron Control Manager from Helsinki Airport.

The guests even got to ride on the brushblower vehicles on a snow removal run, and heard about the environmental aspects of the operations, such as how de-icing fluids are collected and treated.

“The guests seemed impressed with our winter maintenance, our fleets and the weather monitoring system we use to keep the runways in the right condition in any weather,” adds Johan Juujärvi, Head of Rovaniemi Airport “Our rescue service operations during the winter months were also interesting to the visitors.”

Simplicity in design and lifestyle

Beijing Capital Airport’s HR Assistant Lingling Dai was one of the staff members who visited Finland. She says one of the most memorable parts of her trip was the down-to-earth nature of Finnish design and the Finnish lifestyle.

”Simplicity is the ultimate luxury. Everywhere we went the furniture and décor were simple, beautiful and functional. Finns also seem to know how to enjoy life and find a balance between work and life,” Dai says.

“We visited Rovaniemi right before Christmas and the atmosphere and decorations were great. It almost seemed like Santa himself was running the airport.”

Efficiency in flight connections and customer service

Dai says she and the other guests from Beijing took note of the hard work Finavia and its partners do to make transferring as smooth as possible at Helsinki Airport.

“Collaboration is what makes travel smooth. Apart from Finavia staff from different departments, authorities and other stakeholders at the airport must also work together to keep the connecting times short and transfer processes smooth, from runway maintenance to border control and environmental issues,” says Dai.

She also pointed out Finavia’s customer service development, especially relating to Chinese passengers.

“It was nice to find that our colleagues from Finavia who visited Beijing for an exchange programme last year had brought back lots of service products customized for Chinese travellers, such as hot water suppliers and luxury brands in the commercial area.”

Collaboration between Finnish and Chinese airports continues

Though the two airports differ quite a lot in size – Helsinki Airport closed 2017 with 18.9 million passengers while Beijing Capital International Airport served over 95 million passengers – Dai believes that the cooperation can help both operators improve their services.

“We in Beijing can learn from how the different stakeholders in Finland stick firmly to one shared mission,” shares Dai. “On the other hand, Finavia staff can benefit from our in-depth knowledge of Chinese travellers and their needs.”

The exchange programme between Finavia and Capital Airports Holding Company continues in 2018, with a group of Finavia staff members visiting Beijing.

Read more about Finavia’s year 2017