Helsinki Airport is to undergo a €900 million expansion project that is designed to strengthen its position as a hub between Europe and Asia and help it meet rising future demand.
With traffic expected to soar from the current 15mppa to 20mppa by the early 2020s, Finnish airport operator, Finavia, claims that the phased expansion programme is vital to the gateway’s future.
Improvements will focus on increasing check-in, transit travel capacity and passenger traffic arrangements.
The first stage will be completed in the summer, when a new security checkpoint will be introduced in Terminal 2, while new departure processes are scheduled to be built around May or June this year.
Additional security check capacity, a new congress area, an automated check-in and baggage drop are also expected to be constructed this year.
Airport director, Ville Haapasaari, told Airport World: “There are certain steps we will take in the beginning and the first is to improve security at departure halls.
“We have two big issues – one is the departure hall, which is too congested and the second is that we are getting more transfer traffic and widebody aircraft and need more space for them.”
As part of the revamp, check-in will be modernised and Terminal 2 will get 12 new check-in kiosks along with 10 new bag drop machines.
Haapasaari explains: “The increase in passenger volume particularly shows in the departure lobby of Terminal 2.
“We want to increase the flow and the pass-through capacity to a great extent. Our goal is that all passengers can pass through the security check in less than 15 minutes.”
Five new security lines will open to bring the number in Terminal 2 to 18 lines and the intention is to eventually increase this capacity by opening two additional lines.
Haapasaari says that during peak hours, Helsinki will be able to serve more than 3,200 passengers per hour.
The third floor departure lobby will also be extended while an additional security checkpoint will be built upstairs from the check-in area.
Conference and meeting facilities and the VIP President Terminal will also be renovated and reopened in the summer.
The airport’s entire long-haul flight area will then be renewed in winter 2014/15.
Ageing retail facilities have been torn down in preparation and a premium shop area will be introduced in April, while duty free stores and restaurants are also undergoing a transformation as part of a €30 million investment.
World Duty Free Group will start operations in March, while an agreement has been signed with airport restaurant operator HMSHost to overhaul food outlets, which will open sometime from 2014-2016.
Plans are to also build a new satellite building sometime from 2017-2019, which is scheduled to be constructed in front of the main terminal.
Haapasaari says Helsinki must expand to keep up with development of airports in the Nordic region like Oslo and Copenhagen.
“We need to keep pace and want to maintain our position as the leading transfer airport in the Nordic area,” he enthuses.
And, as airport innovations move so fast, plans will be flexible to incorporate any new digital technology, while mobile phone applications and service kiosks will be introduced.
Haapasaari adds: “The world is changing and we have to be agile, so will not have a fixed plan and must always maintain our flexibility.
“The development will be step-by-step up to 2020 as the market can change in a short time.”
The airport will benefit from a €200 million cash injection from the Finnish government, which recognises the importance of the upgrade.