This means that the number of regularly operated intercontinental destinations will be as high as 20. Of these, 15 are in Asia, 4 are in North America, and 1 is in the Middle East. The total number of direct scheduled and charter connections to global destinations is 130.
"The number of frequent, regular scheduled connections is an important indicator when assessing the international significance of an airport", says Joni Sundelin, business director at Finavia.
According to Mr Sundelin, once-a-week charter flights are a vital part of traffic. However, route flights, operated several times per week and on a daily basis, without making a stop, build the foundation for the long-term development of the airport as well as to the well-functioning and reliable connections of Finns to destinations all around the world.
At the moment, approximately 60 airlines operate at Helsinki Airport. The seven largest operators are the route airlines Finnair, Flybe, Norwegian, SAS, Lufthansa and KLM, and the holiday flight airline TUI Group. Every day, about 500 aeroplanes depart from or arrive at the airport.
"Last year, we passed the milestone of 15 million passengers. This means that Helsinki Airport is currently wrestling in the league of medium-sized international airports when measured both in the number of destinations and passengers" says Ville Haapasaari, airport director at Finavia.
Haapasaari's estimate is that the number of passengers in about five or six years could be almost 20 million. The majority of the growth comes from transfer travel. Last year, more than 25% were transfer passengers.
"Helsinki Airport is Finland's hub for international traffic." 84% of the airport's passengers fly abroad. This is also indicated in the passenger profile, as 45% of passengers are foreigners. This change has taken place in ten years", says Mr Haapasaari.
The competition between airports over passengers, and especially over the Asian traffic, is becoming increasingly intense. Finavia has launched an extensive development scheme of about one billion euros with the goal of retaining Finland's good flight connections and improve the competitiveness of Helsinki Airport.
The first phase of the development scheme, i.e. increasing the check-in and security control capacity of Helsinki Airport, will be completed before the summer holiday season. Improvement work at network airports, worth about €35 million, will also be in progress in the spring and summer.