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AIRLINES Finnair


Helsinki edges further ahead


Helsinki Airport is being developed to consolidate its competitive advantage as the ideal transit point for travel between Asia and Europe. All the work is being done under


the “one roof” concept. In essence, all passenger services are in one building, under one roof. Distances will remain short, facilities easily accessible and seamless travel brought that little bit closer. Transit traffic obviously benefits the most with passengers easily moving from one gate to another, making short connection times possible. Construction is taking place in distinct phases.


The expansion of the south wing of the terminal, which serves long haul or non-Schengen flights, has just been completed. The terminal surface area has increased by 7,850 m sq while 157,000 m sq of apron has been renovated. There are four parking stands for wide-bodied aircraft and an additional three passenger bridges. The west wing is also being developed, between


gates 34–36. This project includes a new 25,000 m sq central plaza. Various facilities, like transfer passengers’ security control, shops and restaurants will be located around the plaza. Ultimately, the airport’s upgrade will make it


possible to serve 20 million passengers by 2020. And there are further expansions in the pipeline. The far end of Terminal 1 is being earmarked for an upgrade to boost customer service for European and domestic flights. And Terminal 2 will be expanded into areas currently used for car parking and public transport to add check-in, security and baggage drop services. Car parking and


public transport would not be neglected, as the aim is to develop enhanced connections between the airport and other modes of transport. Helsinki Airport is already the largest bus and train interchange in Finland, offering road and sea links to Russia, Estonia and the Nordic and Baltic countries.


26 ISSUE 5 ROUTES NEWS 2017 routesonline.com


audience and this year Finnair became the first airline in the world to launch Alipay – a mobile and online payment platform – on board its aircraft. In addition, successful face recognition trials have been conducted at Helsinki Airport check-in with Finnair frequent fliers, which will be another boon to the speedy travel ethos. It has been reported that technological


advances may eventually extend to a reimagined onboard experience for Finnair passengers. The seat would recognise who you are, remember your preferred seat settings and even set up your entertainment based on personal preferences. Much else is being done or considered. Finnair has collaborated with top chefs in its long-haul Business Class cabins, for instance, and those cabins now feature lie-flat seats. Meanwhile, interior lighting is intended to ease jetlag and the lounge experience has been enhanced through new partnerships. Such improvements will be crucial to


Finnair’s ongoing success. But developing the network remains the foundation stone for achieving some tough financial targets. The airline is tight-lipped about new routes, with Christensen only admitting that Finnair is “constantly looking and investigating new possible destinations”.


Biannual review and five-year plan Specifics may not be known but the thinking behind any decisions is clear. “We have a biannual process where we analyse and review existing and potential new routes for the upcoming seasons,” explains Christensen. “On top of the biannual process, we also have a five-year plan. “When we evaluate and analyse


potential new routes, we look into market demand and traffic flows, but then it also depends on route profile. In established markets, we tend to pay more attention to existing market flows, slot constraints, hub connections and so forth. For unserved markets, we look into GDP, proxy routes and passport data. And for leisure markets, we explore information like hotel capacity/ constraints and tour operator demand.” Whatever the market, meeting the


growing, diverse needs of Finnish and international customers is possible only if Finnair’s network is competitive and profitable in the long term. The airline has long based its planning on Asian connections. It has been a successful policy – Finnair has been voted Best Airline in Northern Europe by a Skytrax survey eight years in a row – and seems set to continue in that vein. However, the airline is not resting on its


laurels. New fleet, new global destinations and a constantly revamped passenger experience might just make it nine in a row next year. £


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