Helsinki-Vantaa confident of role as Asian gateway

Finland's main international airport, Helsinki-Vantaa, is confident that it can retain its position as a leading gateway between Europe and Asia, despite the opening of new facilities in nearby Saint Petersburg.

Image: Finavia

Competition on routes between Europe and the Far East was notched up this week with the Wednesday opening of a new terminal at Pulkovo International Airport which serves Saint Petersburg, Russia. Several airlines based in Asia and Persian Gulf states are reported to have negotiated the opening of new direct flights to and from Pulkovo.

According to Finnish airport operator Finavia, development projects at Helsinki-Vantaa have now taken on an even greater role with the sharper competition for transit passengers.

"We have long been aware of the plans for Pulkovo. This is the first stage, raising capacity from 13 million passengers to 17 million. Saint Petersburg has set the ambitious goal of drawing 25 million annual passengers by the year 2025," says Finavia Senior Vice President and Airport Director Ville Haapasaari.

A few aces

Haapasaari adds that in this game, the aces held by Helsinki-Vantaa are cost efficiency and the level of its services.

"The prices we charge airlines are lower than those in Russia or charged by other large European airports. We have also worked long and hard to make transit traffic flow smoothly. Here, passengers are able to change flights quickly," Ville Haapasaari explains.

While currently confident, in the long term, Pulkovo could be a threat to Helsinki-Vantaa's transit passenger business. This year already, nearly 13 million passengers are expected to move through Pulkovo, only about two million fewer than through Helsinki-Vantaa.