Improved accessibility, new food court as Helsinki celebrates 70 years

Bernie Baldwin

Finland’s primary international aviation hub continues to refine its offer.

As part of Helsinki Airport’s development programme, Finavia has taken into account those with special needs, ensuring that accessibility solutions will be available to all who need them when the work is completed in summer 2023.

Every year, tens of thousands of passengers with reduced mobility, eyesight or hearing, or requiring special assistance for other reasons travel through Helsinki Airport. Hanna Hämäläinen, head of passenger services and development at Finavia, explains, “Everyone must have equal opportunities to travel. Good accessibility solutions are not only important for special groups, but serve all passengers equally.”

Nina Vainioranta, service manager at Finavia’s Assistance Services, picks up the theme. “The new terminal is designed to make it as easy as possible for all passengers to move around. The distances have been kept as short as possible, everything is accessible with a wheelchair or other assistive device, the instructions are clear, and public transport is especially easy to access from the terminal,” she elaborates.

In connection with the terminal renewal, Finavia has opened a new assistance service point in Helsinki Airport’s departures hall. There are also call points for assistance services located around the airport, including in front of the terminal, at the train station, in the bus terminal and in the parking garages. At these points, the customer can contact employees, who provide them with the necessary assistance.

In developing this spectrum of assistance services, Finavia has discussed requirements with its airline customers, as well as with regulatory and governmental authorities, and organisations for people with special needs.

Once implemented at Helsinki Airport, Finavia aims to continuously improve the assistance services it provides aided by customer feedback and observations.

One place that Finavia hopes all passengers will want to go is the new food court in Helsinki’s gate area. The airport operator has invested in this development alongside leading restaurant service provider Select Service Partner Finland, which has been providing such services at Helsinki Airport for decades.

The food court, which will be completed in March 2023, will bring six new restaurants to Helsinki Airport and create about 40 new jobs. The customer capacity of the gate area will be increased by nearly 400. The new restaurants will be announced in October 2022.

All this is occurring as Helsinki Airport celebrates its 70th anniversary. Planning for a new airport to serve Finland’s capital began in the 1940s. The actual date when the first passenger aircraft landed at Helsinki Airport – carrying athletes and guests for the Olympic Games – was 5 July 1952. However, after the airport was used for Olympic traffic for a month and a half, construction work continued apace and air traffic proper officially began on 26 October 1952.

The Helsinki Airport terminal covers more than 200,000 m2 and has capacity to welcome as many as 30 million passengers annually. The airport has three runways and its entire area is 1,800 hectares, the same as Helsinki city centre.

As noted, Finavia will complete its 10-year investment programme – the largest project ever implemented at Helsinki Airport – in 2023. As well as the development of infrastructure and services, Finavia has been investing to reduce the airport’s environmental impact, with numerous measures already successfully taken to reduce emissions.

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