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Helsinki Airport celebrates its 70th anniversary – from a modest wooden barrack to a calling card for Finland

Article published
20.7.2022 at 08:41
Vanha kuva Helsinki-Vantaan ensimmäisestä parakkiterminaalista
In 70 years, Helsinki Airport has grown from a simple airport built in a formerly wooded area into one of the world’s leading airports in terms of its service quality.

Located in Vantaa, the airport was first opened to serve visitors to the Helsinki Olympics held in the summer of 1952. The finishing touches were completed after the Games, and the new Helsinki Airport was officially inaugurated on 24 October 1952.

Helsinki Airport initially consisted of a single runway, an apron and a wooden barrack to shelter passengers from the weather. The permanent airport terminal building was completed in 1969. Passenger volumes grew, flights were introduced to a growing number of locations, the terminal was expanded and services were improved from one year to the next.

By the late 1990s, Helsinki Airport had made it to the heavyweight category of airports: it was first selected as the world’s best airport in terms of service quality in 1998, and it has won many more awards since then. Most recently, Helsinki Airport was selected as the Best Airport in Northern Europe in 2022.

Helsinki Airport emerged as a significant European airport in the 2010s. It had grown into one of Europe’s leading airports for long-haul traffic and a popular transfer airport between Asia and Europe.

“In the early 2010s, we started to seriously think about our vision of the future and how to prepare for it. When we launched Finavia’s investment programme at Helsinki Airport in 2013, we decided to make this a world-class airport that serves as Finland’s calling card to the world,” says Ulla Lettijeff, Director of Helsinki Airport.

The focus is always on the customer and feedback is appreciated

The investment programme has expanded Helsinki Airport while also giving the airport a more memorable appearance along with plenty of new and renovated facilities and services. In addition to advanced technical functionality and inspiring architecture, the customer experience at the airport is also an essential area of development.

“It is not enough for us that Helsinki Airport to look great. Everything also has to function impeccably. We always think about the wishes of our customers, including both passengers and airlines.”

Customer feedback is collected continuously. The airport gets particularly good feedback on being clear and having beautiful architecture as well as good services. The feedback also reflects passengers’ high expectations for a world-class airport.

“Going on a trip is often the most highly awaited moment of the year, so passengers want everything to go smoothly. Customer encounters and direct feedback are very valuable to us. They enable us to further improve our operations.

Success is built on passion and cooperation

The Helsinki Airport Development Programme has lasted for nearly a decade. The project has involved not only Finavia but also all of the businesses and authorities that operate at the airport. All of the airport’s personnel have played an important role in the programme.

“We work together very well. The key to success is engaging everyone in the process.”

The investment programme is in its final stages, but the development of Helsinki Airport will continue

Finavia’s 10-year, €1 billion investment programme will be completed in summer 2023. By then, the completely renovated baggage claim hall will be in service. The development of the airport will continue even after the programme has ended.

“An airport is never finished. There is always something that can be improved. We also need to look after our runways and other infrastructure, for example, and we always need to be ready to move quickly.”

Read more about the history of Helsinki Airport.

Photo: Börje Hielm / Finnish Aviation Museum.

People & Aviation