Via Helsinki – more efficient and enjoyable connections

muumit via Helsinki
Next week, on Thursday 27 August, the first phase of a new 150 million euro terminal complex will be opened at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport to serve long-haul route and non-Schengen customers.

This is the first step towards a big change that will lies ahead in the autumn. Next Thursday, a customer arriving at the terminal will see more spacious waiting areas and expanded toilet facilities, and two new gates (33 and 36) will also be taken into use. The first company to open in the new, bright waiting area will be R-kioski, offering a wide selection of reading material among its product range.

The next stage in the terminal transformation will take place on 15 September, when more shops and the My City Helsinki restaurant world will open in the new area.

At this point, new service areas will speed up our customers’ connection-flight formalities and improve their general enjoyment of Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.

A fine innovation in the restaurant world is a video theatre for the smaller members of the family, including an ice-cream bar with a tempting range of flavours. A further two new gates (34 and 35) will also be brought into use.

For the smooth passage of Finnair customers, an essential advance will be the opening on 15 September of a new 7-line security check area for arriving transit passengers. I am really pleased about this, because we will now be able for the first time to guide transit passengers, using clear display screens, to security check according to the time available to complete connections. We and the customers have long awaited the opportunity to do this.

Further changes will take place during the autumn, when passport checking points for departing traffic as well as the Transfer Service 3 point will be transferred closer to the new terminal extension.

The final stage will be completed on 11 December with the opening of the end section of the terminal extension. A new, stylish 1,000 m2 Via Lounge, able to accommodate around 250 customers, will open. The services provided will include six private shower rooms, a snack buffet, a well-stocked wine bar and relaxation areas. Business customers, of course, will also have the opportunity to work, via a free WLAN network, for example.

At this time a nearly 600 m2 Via Spa environment for around 100 customers will also open – something quite unique in the world of airports. Via Spa will offer four different saunas, a spruce sauna from the Alps, a stone sauna, a steam sauna and a traditional Finnish sauna, which will provide a view over a mineral water pool to the aircraft taxiways. A paddling pool, reminiscent of a stream bed, will relax the tired feet of transit passengers in cool water. The planning of various care services is currently being finalised for advance marketing. The objective is construct them so that even the busy transit passenger can relax for a moment, free of stress.

All these innovations are part of the joint goal-directed development work of Finnair and Finavia. The number of Europe-Asia transit passengers has fallen during 2009, but only by a few percentage points, compared with a general decline in passenger numbers of nearly ten per cent.

Finnair’s chosen strategy seems to be helping the company to come through the current difficult operating year. The future-oriented terminal extension work presently under way will contribute to improving our competitive position, particularly as economic conditions start to recover.

Soon new experiences await us as we travel!

Markku Remes

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