Finavia, Finland’s national airport operator, is to invest $1.1bn in upgrading its infrastructure in order to encourage tourism and to position the country as a hub between Europe and Asia.Â Â
The aim is to maintain Helsinki Airport’s strong competitive position, especially in transfer traffic between Europe and Asia, and to maintain good flight connections in Finland– Kari Savolainen, Finavia’s chief executive
Among the projects that will be undertaken over the next five years is a $1bn development programme at Helsinki Airport (pictured above). According to Finavia’s development report, the airport has reached its 15 million passenger-a-year capacity. The goal is to increase that to 20 million by 2020.
About $220m of the investment needed to achieve this aim will be provided by the Finnish government. Under EU rules, Finavia must repay that loan from its operating income.
Kari Savolainen, Finavia’s chief executive, told Airport Business magazine: "The aim is to bring all the services offered to transfer passengers into a single terminal building. This way many of our strengths as a relatively small and compact airport, such as short distances and easily accessible services, can be maintained to continue providing a customer-friendly airport experience. Transferring from one gate to another is easy and quick, as it will be done in one terminal."
For passengers who are travelling to Helsinki, a long-awaited Ring Rail Line will offer a convenient link to the city. In addition, passengers from St Petersburg can travel by rail all the way from the Russian city’s Finland Station to the airport.
As with most large airport expansion schemes around the world, Helsinki Airport’s development programme will be executed in phases, and work may be accelerated or postponed depending on changes in the aviation market. The first phase is focused on increasing transit capacity, during which facilities for long-haul passengers will be expanded and aircraft stands for wide-bodied aircraft increased. Construction work is expected to start in 2016.
Rovaniemi airport, the gateway to Lapland for winter tourists (source: Finavia)
Savolainen said: "The aim is to maintain Helsinki Airport’s strong competitive position, especially in transfer traffic between Europe and Asia, and to maintain good flight connections in Finland. We also want to provide our airline customers the kind of facilities and capacity where they can focus on growing their business."Â
He added: "Studies show that one third of passengers choose their flight route based on the transfer airport. In order to keep up and maintain our strong position in the tough competition, we must develop and improve all the time."Â Â
As well as the $1bn development programme at Helsinki, £100m is to be put into modernising Finland’s regional airports. Terminal renovation projects are being launched at Turku, Ivalo and Tampere-Pikkala, with work expected to complete this year.Â Â
However, the focus of Finavia’s investment will be its Lapland gateways, with an eye to the winter tourist market. Improvement works will take place at Rovaniemi (pictured middle), Ivalo and KittilÃ¤ airports.
Top: Helsinki airport is going to get the lion’s share of the investment (source: Finavia)
Middle: Rovaniemi airport, the gateway to Lapland for winter tourists (source: Finavia)