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Commentary: Finavia’s investments make Finland more connected to the world

Published
4.4.2019 at 10:17
Joni Sundelin 3
The Helsinki Airport Development Programme is not just about building new premises. It is part of the strategic work that improves the international connectivity of the whole of Finland, says Joni Sundelin, Executive Director of Helsinki Airport.

In 2014, Finavia launched the Helsinki Airport Development Programme. With its investments, the airport is preparing to serve 30 million passengers annually in the future.

At the moment, passengers can see the large-scale construction work at the airport, but the project involves more than building new infrastructure. The investments make it possible for Helsinki Airport to maintain its position as an international airline hub – a position that has been achieved with hard work.

It is quite an achievement that in the last 10 years, the number of international flight routes from Helsinki has doubled. This creates whole new possibilities for Finnish business. Even as digitalisation continues to advance, global business travel isn’t showing signs of slowing down. Therefore, good connectivity is essential for Finland.

Air connections create jobs and help develop tourism

The investments have a significant effect in providing employment in Finland. Already now, Helsinki Airport employs 20,000 people, and the development programme will create 5,000 new permanent jobs. The employment impact during the construction phase is 16,600 person-years.

Air transport connections around the world create possibilities for tourism in Finland. The airport premises are also important for country image. For millions of people, Helsinki Airport is their first impression of Finland.

This has been taken into account in the planning of the non-Schengen area expansion, the new Aukio, where passengers are welcomed by an immersive spatial experience that showcases Finnish nature. The goal is for transfer passengers passing through the airport to get a positive customer experience that, in turn, sparks an interest to get to know Finland better.

The goal of the investments is a world-class airport

International competition between airports is intense, and Finavia’s strategy is to focus on transfer passengers. Here, the geographical location of Finland is our advantage. We focus especially on connections between Europe and China; traffic between the United States and Asia is also becoming increasingly important. Without the demand created by transfer passengers, the connections from Finland to the rest of the world would be significantly weaker.

The strategy shows in our investments: a large part of the development programme takes place in the non-Schengen area where we are boosting the capacity and service ability for widebody aircrafts.

Increasing capacity goes hand in hand with our determined work in improving flight connections, the passenger experience and the commercial services offering at the airport.

The success of an airport is created together with airlines. We are pleased that in addition to Finnair, Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines are also increasing their volume here and thereby making connections originating from international air hubs more easily accessible from Helsinki Airport.

From a very early stage, the customer experience is placed at the heart of planning new premises. Our focus on transfer passengers can be seen, for example, in the selection of commercial services, the selection of languages in airport signage, and personal service being available in the mother tongue of important passenger groups.

Responsible investments

The prerequisites of the investments at Helsinki Airport have been created by our profitable operations. We have doubled our operating profit, thereby creating a foundation for long-term development work. The investment projects have been efficient, meeting their timetables and budgets.

Investments in environmental protection are an important part of our responsibility. Helsinki Airport is already carbon neutral, and in 2019 all Finavia Airports will become carbon neutral. In building new premises, environmental efficiency is our target: for example, we aim to reuse the building materials acquired from demolishing the P2 parking hall in constructing new roadways and paths.

In our development work, we are not looking for short-term wins, but aim to get airline clients who are environmentally efficient and invest in modern fleets.

Responsibility is a requirement for the future of the whole industry – and therefore for the goal that decades from now, the premises currently being built at Helsinki Airport will continue to serve airline passengers.

Read the commentary by Kimmo Mäki on international emission solutions

Watch a video about Finavia’s corporate responsibility – the Sum of Good things.

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