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Kimmo Mäki / Finavia

Finavia CEO equates airports with freedom

“For me, the airport has always signified freedom,” Finavia’s new chief executive Kimmo Mäki says in an interview.

The Finnish airport operator Finavia presents a profile of its new chief executive, Kimmo Mäki, who took over at the beginning of January, emerging from a position as CEO of the Port of Helsinki.

His office is close to Terminal 2, and he drops by the airport several times a week to see how things work.

“I want to see things for myself and discuss with the people whose work is related to them, so I can get an overview of the situation. […] You learn best from the people who do the actual work.”

Mäki, 43, is aiming to visit all 21 of Finavia’s airports by the end of the year. So far he has made business trips to the airports in Rovaniemi, Kittilä, Kuusamo, Vaasa, Kokkola and Kuopio.

“Visiting network airports has helped me to understand how complex our airport network is. Each airport holds a unique position and carries significance in its area, but they all share the objective of operating as safely as possible and investing in customer service.”

Remote but connected
Growing up in his native town of Kokkola, it was Kokkola-Pietarsaari Airport that represented a gateway to the world. The airport, which was called Kruunupyy Airport back then, is located 19 kilometres from Kokkola.

“For me, the airport has always stood for freedom. Living in small, remote Finland has never limited the opportunity to be part of the world at large.”

Today, Mäki lives in an eastern suburb of Helsinki, and Helsinki Airport is now his gateway to the world.

“The airport is an environment where people experience strong emotions, whether they are arriving or departing. That makes it such a fascinating place,” he says.

Inspired by Schiphol
He takes much of his inspiration from Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, where he noticed how spacious and functional the airport was despite having 68.4 million passengers last year.

The number of passengers is growing in Finland too, and this year Helsinki is likely to hit a record 20 million.

A €900 million investment programme began in 2014, “aiming at strengthening the competitive position of Finland’s primary airport in relation to international competitors”, Finavia writes.

“The growing number of passengers brings about challenges, but it also gives us an opportunity to develop our operations. We must work hard for it, but this is a great starting point.”

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