Construction has now begun on the west wing of Helsinki Airport. Its new passenger facilities will be the heart of the terminal expansion.The west wing represents some EUR 300 million of the Finnish airport operator Finavia’s substantial total investment of EUR 900 million. The first part of the west wing to be built is the large central plaza, which is scheduled to open in late 2018. It will bring 25,000 square metres of new passenger and baggage facilities to the airport.
“The magnificent central plaza to be built in the west wing will be the heart of the expanded terminal. It will be used by departing and arriving long-haul passengers. Various facilities, such as modern security control, shops, restaurants and new services, will be located around the plaza,” says Ville Haapasaari, Airport Director and SVP at Finavia.
Haapasaari promises the central plaza will be an architecturally impressive space. Decorated with Finnish wood, its rugged wall and ceiling structures will set an imposing stage for many kinds of events and phenomena.
“We want to not only provide our passengers with a smooth, pleasant and straightforward customer experience, but also to create experiences. Our aim is to establish a setting for an unforgettable and significant travel experience that lives long in the memory and strengthens the Helsinki Airport brand,” Haapasaari explains.
Investment decisions on the subsequent stages of the west wing’s development will be made later. Finavia’s expansion programme will proceed in stages due to reasons including the need to manage risks related to the project and business development. This allows Finavia to react to changes in market conditions in a flexible manner.
Helsinki Airport has seen favourable market development in recent years. The number of transfer connections has increased by more than 75% within the last 10 years.
“Helsinki Airport has become one of the key air traffic hubs in Europe. In terms of routes to Japan, for example, Helsinki Airport is the largest airport in Europe at the moment,” Haapasaari adds.
Helsinki Airport is a tour de force of Finnish architecture and design
The terminal expansion consists of two areas, of which the west wing will be completed in 2020. Construction is already well underway on the south wing, which is scheduled to open in summer 2017.
The expansion was designed by the internationally recognised Finnish architects’ office PES-Architects. The same office designed the previous Helsinki Airport expansions completed in 1996 and 1999, as well as the circular parking buildings in front of the terminal.
“The designs incorporate elements that allow Helsinki Airport to set itself apart from other airports around the world. We will highlight Finnish expertise and architectural style. The abundant use of glass and wood will provide brightness and create a sense of being close to nature,” says architect Tuomas Silvennoinen at PES-Architects.
Plans for the development programme move to the area in front of Terminal 2
The Helsinki Airport development programme also includes plans to expand Terminal 2 to the area currently used for parking and public transport. This would provide more space for check-in, security control and baggage operations, allowing the airport to concentrate all departure and arrival services to a single terminal.
Finavia is currently making preparations to launch a design competition related to the development of Terminal 2 and the area in front of it. The potential construction work would begin within a couple of years at the earliest.
The project would make it possible to improve the existing parking and public transport arrangements and develop enhanced connections between the airport and other modes of transport. Helsinki Airport has established itself as an important European air traffic hub and is also one of the largest bus and train interchanges in Finland, offering road and sea links to Russia, Tallinn and the Nordic and Baltic countries.
The aim of Finavia’s nearly one-billion-euro development programme is to strengthen Helsinki Airport’s position in both the international competition between airports and as a significant airline hub between Europe and Asia.
The expansion will allow the airport to serve 20 million passengers annually in the year 2020. Helsinki Airport’s strengths include short transfer times, friendly staff and innovative world-class services. Finavia is determined to maintain these strengths even as passenger numbers grow.