Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, the gateway to Finland, the connecting hub to Asia and the home to oneworld member Finnair is being rebranded as simply HELSINKI AIRPORT. This name change is targeted to identify the airport on the international market, as a modern, international hub.
Helsinki, the capital of Finland currently has two airports, Helsinki-Vantaa and Helsinki-Malmi. Opened in 1938, Malmi was the original airport and served as the only such facility of Helsinki until 1952, when the new airport was opened for the 1952 Helsinki Summer Olympics, near the small suburban city of Vantaa. Since 1952, Malmi has been operating as a small, local airport and is the home for most Finnish pilot schools and flying clubs.
Helsinki-Vantaa with 3 runways and approximately 20.000 employees on the other hand has grown to be an international hub of oneworld member Finnair and a main connecting hub for passengers flying to Asia from Europe or the East Coast of North-America. In 2009 more than 13 million passengers have visited the airport, with more than 80% of them flying on international routes and more than 1 million connecting to Asian destinations. The airport itself is only 17 kms away from Helsinki’s city center, and only 5 kms from the center of Vantaa, thus the now legacy name.
Finavia, the state-owned operator of 25 of Finland’s 27 commercial airports, has now rebranded Helsinki-Vantaa as Helsinki Airport in a EUR 30,000 (USD 43,200) marketing initiative. The rebranding is intended to reinforce the message that Helsinki is a modern hub with all the services of a large international airport, ideal for connections to Asia owing to its position directly over the shortest great-circle routes connecting the continents. This is fully in-line with the strategy and marketing mesage of Finnair, that advertises itself brilliantly as the airline providing the shortest and smoothest route from Europe to Asia. Helsinki Airport is also less congested as other major, larger European hubs and has been one of the most punctual airports in Europe for years.
The branding initiative actually went into effect on December 11, 2009 with the formal opening of the final phase of a EUR 143 million extension to the airport’s Terminal 2. It includes the 1,000-sq.m. Via Lounge, which is open to all passengers for a fee and to oneworld premium passengers for free. It also features the 600-sq.-m. Via Spa, featuring a range of saunas and treatments in true Finnish style. After all, they invented the sauna!!
The extension increases the number of widebody gates in Terminal 2 (T2) from five to eight and allows all long-haul flights to be handled in one terminal. Additionally, it has enabled Finnair to move all its flights to T2 along with oneworld partners British Airways and Malev Hungarian Airlines. Moving all domestic flights to T2 allows Finnair to maintain a 35-min. connecting time between any two flights, a very low time compared to minimum connection times at London Heathrow or Paris Charles de Gaulle – where I personally would never plan my connection to be less than 2.5 hours…