Helsinki Airport expands again: EU lends 150mn for new main entrance and train station tunnel

Airport officials expect the annual passenger volume to rise from the current 20 million to around 30 million.

Look familiar? The new look is co-designed by ALA Architects, which was responsible for Helsinki's Oodi Library. Image: Arkkitehtitoimisto ALA Oy ja Arkkitehtitoimisto HKP Oy

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has approved a loan of 150 million euros to Finnish airport operator Finavia to upgrade its flagship Helsinki Airport.

The funding is for the fourth stage of the airport's long-term development programme, which is to expand Terminal 2 and improve its ground transport links. The most obvious change will be a new main entrance to the terminal, says Finavia CEO Kimmo Mäki.

"The final stage of the development programme focuses on passengers' arrival at and departure from the airport," Mäki says.

The programme, which began in 2013, is to wrap up in 2022. Its overall price tag is expected to be around a billion euros. Airport officials expect the annual passenger volume to rise from the current level of around 20 million to 30 million.

In 1998, the airport was used by 9.4 million travellers. By last year that had more than doubled to nearly 20.8 million.

"We're preparing to ensure we have more capacity for Asia-bound widebodied aircraft," says Mäki. National air carrier Finnair has seen strong growth on its Asian routes in recent years.

New train-to-the-plane links?

A new tunnel will be dug to connect Terminal 2 to the existing commuter rail station, but its design will also allow for possible future link to long-distance trains. The airport in Vantaa is about half an hour from central Helsinki, or slightly less to the Pasila mainline rail hub.

The airport's bus and taxi areas will also be redesigned, and a new parking area will offer space for 1,800 vehicles.

Finavia and the EIB signed the loan agreement on Friday in Helsinki. Signing on behalf of the bank was its Vice-President, former Finnish PM Alexander Stubb.