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Timo Järvelä, VP passenger experience, and Katja Siberg, SVP marketing, congratulate passenger 20 million (photo: Ville Vappula / Finavia)

Helsinki breaks the 20 million barrier

Finland’s fast-growing air transport hub has achieved another record, surpassing 20 million passengers.

The 20 millionth passenger of the year visited Helsinki Airport yesterday, which it claimed as “a historical milestone” and the climax of unprecedented growth in the last few years.

Helsinki Airport’s passenger no. 20 million was Pia Inhilä, who was flying to Shanghai with flag carrier Finnair, and Finnish citizen Santa Claus himself turned up to welcome her together with airport officials from HEL.

“This is a momentous occasion for Helsinki Airport and the entire Finnish aviation industry,” said Joni Sundelin, director of Helsinki Airport.

“The number of passengers has been growing faster than we predicted a few years ago. Back then, we talked about 20 million passengers in 2020. But we hit that mark already this year.”

Up to 21 million passengers are expected to pass through the airport by the end of the year. The corresponding figure last year was 18.9 million.

Next: 30 million
An ongoing development programme budgeted at €1 billion is now aimed at helping the airport prepare for even greater volumes – up to 30 million passengers a year.

The rising tide of passengers is due to the growth of international transit traffic, the airport claims, as well as the attractiveness of Finland as a travel destination and Finns’ increased tendency to travel by plane.

“All areas of our operations have grown. The majority of traffic is still within Europe, but Asian transit traffic in particular has been growing more rapidly than expected,” said Sundelin.

The growth of international traffic “has continued to be stronger than at the other main Nordic airports”, he added.

“We are currently among the most rapidly growing air traffic hubs in Europe. We have established our status as a hub of transit traffic between Europe and Asia.”

The airlines with the biggest market share at HEL, Finnair and Norwegian, have increased their range of services considerably this year, according to operator Finavia, but there are new airlines this year too, such as FlyDubai.

“Hopefully, we will continue to acquire more clients next year,” says Sundelin. “We expect Helsinki Airport to continue its strong growth, but we also assume that the rate of growth will become more moderate in the coming years.”

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