FINLAND. Helsinki Airport posted a +4.9% year-on-year increase in traffic in 2019 to reach 21.9 million.

Operator Finavia reported a “moderate” overall +4.2% traffic increase across its network in Finland (to 26 million), as it announced new store and restaurant openings at Lapland airports Rovaniemi, Ivalo and Kemi-Tornio [see box below].

Helsinki Airport saw traffic to and from China and Japan increase significantly in 2019. Photo by Jussi Hellsten

The number of passengers transferring from one international flight to another at Helsinki Airport increased by +16.7%, Finavia said. Flights to and from Japan, Germany, China and Sweden had the most international transfer passengers. Last year, international transfer passengers amounted to 38.6% of all passengers passing through Helsinki Airport.

Passenger traffic on flights to and from China – a market Helsinki Airport has been particularly keen to tap into – increased +18.2%, to 659,000. Traffic on routes to Japan was up +11.2%, to 837,000. The airport currently operates flights to nine destinations in China, and five in Japan – the most among European airports. Helsinki began thrice-weekly flights to Beijing’s new Daxing International Airport last autumn. In December, Helsinki Airport opened Europe’s only direct connection to Sapporo, Japan.

Looking at traffic to and from other destinations, there was a -1.6% decline for Sweden (to 1,644,000) but increases for Russia (+15.2% to 594,000), North America (+30.5% to 439,000) and Estonia (+9.4% to 323,000).

Finavia described 2019 as a year of moderate growth, with traffic up +4.9% at Helsinki Airport

“2019 was a year of more moderate growth and a good year overall: air traffic still increased at a rate higher than the long-term average. At Helsinki Airport, we opened Aukio, which is the new heart of Non-Schengen area, and the new West Pier serving passengers on long-haul flights and wide-bodied aircrafts,” commented Finavia Vice President, Sales and Route Development Petri Vuori.

“Helsinki Airport is still very successful in attracting passengers. Asian transfer passengers form a significant user group at Helsinki Airport as Finland’s geographic location between Asia and Europe is ideal for transfers.

The new West Pier was among the openings at Helsinki in 2019

“During the 2020 summer season, 53 weekly flights to China and 45 weekly flights to Japan will be operated from Helsinki Airport. The smooth travel and the high quality of customer service give us a competitive advantage. For example, many services are available in Chinese both at the airport and in our digital environments.

“It is also worth noting that our growth and development has been carried out sustainably. We are a pioneer in the development of more sustainable airport operations – all of Finavia’s 21 airports are already carbon neutral.”

The construction of a new entrance to the airport and the arrivals and departure halls has begun as planned, Finavia noted. New shops and restaurants will be opened in the gate area during the spring.

Ahkio opened at Rovaniemi Airport in November and offers local dishes and flavours

Developing Lapland’s airports

Some 1.5 million passengers used Finavia’s airports in Lapland in 2019, a year-on-year increase of +1.5%. The company completed a €55 million development programme to improve customer experience and raise the level of service before the beginning of the 2019 Christmas season.

New restaurant Ahkio opened at Rovaniemi Airport in November in the terminal building after security. It offers an assortment of warm dishes packed with local flavours. Other Lapland specialities are being offered at the recently-opened Napapiirin Lahja, which features a selection of interior design items, clothes and souvenirs.

Unique Design Center recently opened two new stores at Ivalo Airport. Finnish design items from Aarikka to Marimekko are offered in addition to pieces created by the couple who run the shop.

New café Sulo has also opened at Kemi-Tornio Airport.

Finavia Vice President, Business Development (Airport Network) Olli Väyrynen said passenger numbers at Lapland’s airports had increased significantly and so the new stores and services were very welcome. “Our customer base consists of Finnish passengers, but we also serve Asian and Central European tourists who expect our airports to offer local selections,” he said.