The closure of Russian airspace to European carriers has hit Finland harder than most.

For Helsinki Airport, which recently announced the completion of its 10 year-long development programme including a 45% increase in the terminal’s floor area, the airspace closure has been particularly problematic.

But the airport’s senior vice president says the expansion is a long-term project that will benefit Helsinki for decades into the future.

Speaking to FINN from Routes World 2023, Ulla Lettijeff said: “It hit us badly to have Russian airspace close, but on the other hand, we always make our investments for the very long term.

“We haven’t built anything for next year or 2028 or something, we have built our airport for the coming decades.

“We strongly believe that it has been the right decision to make because we need it. When the war is over, and when the airspace can open, we are ready for it.”

The investment of over one billion euros at Helsinki Airport means it is now ready to welcome 30 million passengers annually.

The airport’s design aims to showcase Finnish design and expertise, not only in terminal architecture and material choices but also in its service offerings.

Helsinki Airport expansion

As a result of the development programme, the terminal’s floor area has increased by 45%, allowing for new, modern airport facilities to be introduced.

The departure and arrival halls were completely renovated, and the airport transitioned into a single-terminal model.

Additionally, the security control, shops, restaurants, services and parking and public transportation arrangements were comprehensively updated.

Commenting on the improved green credentials of the airport, Lettijeff said: “Sustainability has been the core of our thinking. It’s also a very Finnish thing. It has been at the fore of every decision, all the time.

“For example, we have built our energy system at the airport extremely efficiently. We are building all the time more electric power.

“We have three solar panel factories on our walls and on our roof to feed the energy for us. One parking area is covered by solar panels and the building is only using that energy.”

In June 2023, the international airport organization ACI (Airports Council International) awarded Helsinki Airport the recognition of the best airport in Europe in its size category.

Criteria for selection included sustainability efforts, operational efficiency, innovation and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Helsinki Airport has also been chosen as the best airport in Northern Europe five times (2016–2023). In addition, the airport has received numerous international awards and recognitions for project management, construction, BIM (Building Information Modeling) implementation at various project stages, architecture and design, restaurant services and certifications for responsible construction.
Subscribe to the FINN weekly newsletter

You may also be interested in:

Turkish Airlines’ hub IGA seeks new airlines to reach 200m pax