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Companies at the quiet Helsinki Airport: we want to serve our customers

Article published
27.4.2020 at 10:32
A closed restaurant at the airport terminal
Over the course of just a few weeks, the average number of potential customers per day fell from 60,000 to around one thousand. Finavia has supported its tenants in many ways during the exceptional times caused by the coronavirus.

The purpose shared by all companies operating at Helsinki Airport is to offer the passenger customers the best service possible. Helsinki Airport is home to a large number of Finnish and international restaurants, shops, lounges, hotels and points of service, and their clientele is entirely composed of air passengers. As in the rest of Finland, nearly all customers disappeared in just a few weeks. Finavia and the tenants at the airport are facing a situation unlike anything they have dealt with before.

Good cooperation and openness provide support for the entire airport community

Finnish kiosk chain R-kioski has several points of service at Helsinki Airport. The decrease in the number of flights and passenger volumes has made it necessary to change the way the terminals and their space are used; as a result, it has been necessary to close some of the kiosks, while others are operating with reduced opening hours. Mikko Arosilta, Development Director at R-kioski, praises the entrepreneurs of the kiosks.

“Our entrepreneurs at the airport all have to worry about their employees, as almost all of them have been temporarily laid off. At the same time, they have gone into fighting mode, working to identify exactly which products the customers at the airport currently want, changing and adapting their range of products based on customers’ wishes. Our kiosks are really striving to serve their customers and adapt to the needs of the current situation!”

Finavia has announced that it will waive April’s rent for all tenants that have not been able to conduct their business due to the reduced air traffic. The rent required from tenants with some business opportunities has been reduced considerably. In addition, Finavia has been flexible with many contractual terms to the tenants’ benefit, including service hours and joint marketing efforts. The companies at the airport will continue to receive support until the situation returns to normal.

“We will always find solutions as long as we are working together to serve the passengers as well as we can, until the very end. The situation escalated quickly for everyone and new information became obsolete almost immediately, forcing us to adapt to changes time and again. Finavia’s has communicated really well with us regarding the situation. We have been confident in Finavia’s ability to make the right decisions at the airport,” Arosilta continues.

Good partners prove their worth in a crisis

The coronavirus pandemic rewrote all plans made by Helsinki Airport’s new company, Metsä/Skogen. In February, the news was that the new Metsä/Skogen concept store would allow you to go visit the woods at Helsinki Airport. Carita Peltonen, the CEO of Metsä/Skogen, is relieved to see how responsible and proactive Finavia has been towards its tenants.

“As an entrepreneur, I was terrified. I had just signed the rental agreement for my premises when the coronavirus pandemic really hit. I had booked workers for the renovation and all the plans for the store were ready. I shouldn’t have worried so much, as Finavia has proved to be an exemplary partner from the very beginning.

I really appreciate how well Finavia understood our situation and kept actively in touch with us entrepreneurs. It’s easy to tell good partners apart from bad ones in a crisis. I feel like we are in this together and that good cooperation with Finavia will help us make it through,” says Peltonen.

When passenger volumes began to fall, Finavia did not wait: they contacted each tenant to discuss how to get through the challenging situation.

“Responsibility is about your actions, and your actions are a measure of your responsibility. In a moment of need, Finavia made concrete suggestions and showed that they are on our side, and I really value that. Metsä/Skogen will be opened once air traffic returns to normal and passengers come back to Helsinki Airport. We are ready and hopeful about the future,” Peltonen continues.

Making use of the exceptional situation: renovating the Lindroos shops

The traditional watchmaking and jeweller’s company Lindroos has three shops at Helsinki Airport. Tanja Keisu-Mäkinen, Director in charge of Lindroos’ airport operations, says that the company is taking advantage of the exceptional situation. The Lindroos shops are currently undergoing a small facelift, which would be more difficult under normal circumstances.

“We have been forced to temporarily lay off Lindroos’ entire personnel at the airport – that means all our shops have been closed since late March. Finavia’s flexibility with rent payments and marketing charges has been essential to us. We are aiming to open our shops as soon as possible.

Our personnel have been thankful for the quick solutions, and they played a big part in making them happen. People have been very understanding – it’s a new situation for everyone, after all. And everybody is affected by it. Thankfully, our personnel stayed healthy while they were still working and nobody fell ill. Now we are setting our sights on the future and the return of the passengers.”

The future of shops, services and restaurants at Helsinki Airport after the pandemic

The support Finavia has provided to its tenants will leave a large hole in its finances. The reductions in rent payments amount to tens of millions, but Finavia is hoping that their flexibility will enable the businesses to reopen their services quickly after passenger volumes at the airports return to normal.

“The health of our passengers and personnel is what matters. We all hope that the impacts of the crisis will be brief and travel restrictions can be lifted already during the summer. It is clear that the degree to which companies are affected is directly linked to the duration of the crisis. However, we are confident in our strong, vibrant partner network and believe that the vast majority of them will be able to successfully continue their business after the crisis is over. Of course, we also hope that the financial support issued by the government will find those of our partners who need it to make it through. It is beneficial to us all that entrepreneurs receive support and businesses are not allowed to go bankrupt due to an external crisis and exceptional situation that we cannot affect,” says Nora Immonen, Director of Commercial Services at Helsinki Airport.

Finavia is monitoring the pandemic situation closely, especially with regards to the travel instructions issued by different countries and the air traffic plans made by airlines.

“Our aim is to have commercial services operating normally as soon as possible once the air traffic passenger volumes start to increase again. We are constantly monitoring the customer satisfaction rates of our services, and we will keep developing our services in accordance with customer needs, taking advantage of the opportunities brought about by the Helsinki Airport development programme", Immonen continues.

The companies at the airport are prepared to get things running again as soon as the circumstances allow it.

“In our view, the role of R-kioski’s services in the lives of the passengers has not changed. We have to keep on smiling and encouraging one another, cheering people up during these hard times. Please come and bring your business to our kiosks; our entrepreneurs are doing everything they can. Every single euro helps in this situation,” Mikko Arojuuri states.

Tanja Keisu-Mäkinen from Lindroos continues:

“I believe that this shared experience will bring us all closer to one another. I’m sure all the companies and personnel will be delighted to serve their customers and meet one another when the time comes.”