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NEWS Last modified on January 8, 2016

Finavia signs sister agreement with Beijing Capital International Airport

Finavia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Establishment of A Sister Airport Relationship with the operator of Beijing Capital International Airport.

Finavia operates 25 gateways across Finland while Capital Airports Holding Company (CAH) manages Beijing Capital, Asia's biggest airport and the second busiest gateway in the world aftter Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta.

The MOU establishes extensive collaboration between Finavia and CAH, the first action being a sister airport agreement between Helsinki Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport.

Finavia is the first European airport operator to conclude such an agreement with CAH.

According to Finavia, the MOU will help Helsinki Airport in its goal to become the number one transfer airport for passengers flying between Europe and Asia.

“Co-operation with the largest airport operator in China is no doubt a remarkable milestone for us," enthuses Finavia Corporation CEO, Kari Savolainen.
"It will contribute to the attractiveness of both operators’ airports and to the development opportunities of the Finland-China routes.

"For Helsinki Airport, it represents an outstanding opportunity to develop a competitive edge regarding the Asian and especially the Chinese market in comparison to other airports in Northern Europe." 

Asian connections

Finland's capital city gateway is already the leading transfer airport in Northern Europe for long-haul traffic and it connects Europe and Asia with the shortest route.

And measured by the number of flights to Asia, Finland’s main airport is the fifth largest airport in Europe.

In 2016, Helsinki Airport offer connections to over 130 destinations, including 17 direct routes to Asia and further destinations to almost all major European cities.

The MOU allows both parties to strengthen and develop the connection between Finland and China and, in particular, between Helsinki and Beijing.

"We value high the establishment of sister airport relationship with Finavia," notes Liu Xuesong, president and CEO of CAH and chairman of Beijing Capital International Airport Co Ltd. (BCIA).

"We see Finavia as one of the leading and most competent airport groups.

"Helsinki Airport is a leading hub between China and Europe due to the shorter flying distance and MCT (Minimum connecting time), as well as its first class performance in safety, security and customer service. We look forward to our co-operation." 

Sister act

The sisterhood strengthens the relationship between the two countries and airports in many ways, says Finavia.

It states: "The objectives of the co-operation are benchmarking best practices and sharing knowledge, creating co-marketing activities in respective home markets, exchanging personnel and building competence.

"The staff exchange activities between Helsinki Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport is expected to begin in 2016."
Helsinki Airport

Savolainen adds: “The smooth air bridge between Europe and Asia brings foreign tourists to Finland where tourism has significant growth potential.

"According to statistics recently published by the Finnish Hospitality Association, the number of Asian tourists in Finland is currently increasing. For instance, the number of Chinese visitors staying overnight has increased substantially."

The appeal of China

Flights between Helsinki and Beijing started in 1988 and today Helsinki Airport’s home carrier, Finnair, operates daily long-haul services with the Airbus A350 aircraft.

It also operates a direct flight between Helsinki and Chongqing Airport, also managed by CAH.

“We have already done a great deal in order to make transfer via Helsinki smooth and comfortable for our Chinese customers," reveals Savolainen.
"Our website, mobile app and signage are available in Chinese and we have Chinese-speaking personnel at the airport, for example.

"We are looking forward to exchanging ideas and best practices with both CAH and BCIA in order to improve services for Asian and European passengers even further,” he says. 

Getting ready for 20 million passengers

Helsinki Airport is curently undertaking a €900 million development programme, which will equip it to handle upto 20mppa by 2020.

Finavia claims that the upgrade will "produce completely new services while integrating digitalisation into the renewed customer experience through the use of the latest technologies".

In 2015 annual passenger volumes exceeded 16 million for the first time in the history of the airport.

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Joe Bates

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