Helsinki Airport – Airport of tomorrow
Helsinki Airport is a gleaming, modern, carbon net zero mini-city, welcoming and inspiring 30 million passengers annually.
Helsinki Airport’s dynamic ten-year plan reaches its completion this year. Looking further ahead, the plan is guided by a balanced combination of safe, comfortable ambience for people and efficient, sustainable processes — and the right premises to ensure both.
Passengers are directed through unified, brightly-lit terminal facilities with ample and coordinated arrival and departure spaces, providing especially fast and easy links to and from the railway station, bus station, taxi rank, and car and cycle parks.
Continuously enhancing the passenger experience
An airport handles all kinds of customers from all sorts of different cultures, including groups, families, single passengers, and couples.
“Passenger needs and behaviour are always changing,” says senior vice president, Helsinki Airport director, Ulla Lettijeff. “We have to take account of how service levels will evolve in the future.”
The Maja Living Room in the non-Schengen area, a calm space for interdenominational prayer or quiet meditation, is an example of how this sensitivity is realised. In terms of eliminating pre-flight stress, the customer experience is hugely improved by 3D scanners at security control: passengers don’t need to unpack liquids and electronic devices from their cabin luggage, although some bags might be inspected after scanning.
The ultra-modern security control isn’t the only thing that’s changed — recently, both Departures and Arrivals halls have been renewed, including a more efficient baggage claim and check-in areas.
“Finavia’s extensive development programme at Helsinki Airport is nearing completion,” says Lettijeff. “We are immensely proud of our work so far. And the results speak for themselves. Helsinki Airport was named the best airport in Europe of its size in 2023.”
World’s first secondhand store at an airport
Another example of adapting to passengers’ preferences is seen in the airport’s commercial selection. In a collaboration with the Finnish family firm Relove, Finavia is bringing a local secondhand concept store to Helsinki Airport. It’s the world’s first secondhand shop in an airport.
“It’s an example of how we are continuously following trends and developing our selection to meet the wishes of our passengers,” says Lettijeff.
The secondhand store and a café will be opened in the former departures hall of Helsinki Airport, which has become part of the airside gate area as a result of the development programme.
The hall will receive a completely new look when the conversion work is completed. Finnish architecture and unique brands will make the area an exciting meeting place at the heart of the gate area.
Calling card for Finland
“For many people, Helsinki Airport is their first and possibly only impression of Finland,” says Henri Hansson, senior vice president, safety, security & sustainability, Finavia.
State-of-the-art, advanced and fast check-in, baggage drop, security, and baggage collection processes positively contribute to the upbeat impression referred to by Henri Hansson. Efficient processes at every stage and a clean, stylish environment convey a pleasant ambience that reflects positively on Finland as the host country.
Predominantly wood-based — and very Finnish — design features, such as the elegant and award-winning entrance canopy and departure hall ceiling, as well as the Aukio skylight in the non-Schengen area, create a sense of nature-infused style, space, and calm.
As well as ahead-of-the-game technology, such as the new X-ray screening system that reduces stress and speeds up the departure security process, many of the airport’s unique features are related to environmental considerations.
An underground wetland — a sealed, gravel-filled basin — serves as a filter for storm water, for example. Solar panels for on-site power cover the south-facing walls of one car park, in which there are also hundreds of charging points for electric vehicles. Energy efficiency is taken into account with terminal lighting and heat efficient windows.
In the future, all airports may be as advanced and well-equipped as this. Meanwhile, Helsinki Airport continues to lead the pack into and beyond a Golden Age of airports, where stress is minimised and the pleasure of air travel guaranteed.