A new southern wing of the Helsinki-Vantaa airport was formally inaugurated on Thursday, enormously increasing the handling capacity of the airport.
The total number of the gates would grow from 38 to 60. The annex will improve services to long haul flights in particular. One of the practical improvements for passengers is the first three such gates where ingoing and outgoing customers can use two separate doors of the aircraft at the same time.
Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila said at the opening ceremony that expanding the airport would surely improve its position in international competition.
Commenting on the inauguration, director of the airport Ville Haapasaari told newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that the most important reason for the expansion of the airport is the boom of travel in Asia, where the standard of living has rising rapidly.
He also mentioned Finnair’s strategic focus on Asian markets. Finnair operates six flights to China and four flights to Japan.
Last year 17.2 million customers used the airport. Haapasaari said the airport operator Finavia has set 2020 as the target for reaching 20 million passengers annually, but now it looks like it will be attained earlier.
In the past July, travelers to and from Asia grew 21 percent compared to 2016. Sixty airlines are operating at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport.
The expansion project will continue with the completion of another wing in 2020. Haapasaari gave the total cost as 400 million euros.
The airport was transferred to the current location in 1952 for the Helsinki Olympics. It was known for decades as the Seutula airport, on the basis of the village where it was built. The current official name Helsinki-Vantaa combines the names of two cities — the Finnish capital and its neighbouring Vantaa, where the airport is actually located