Exclusive interview: a look behind the scenes at Helsinki Airport’s latest retail development

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Helsinki Airport in Finland will open 17 restaurants and shops during the summer and autumn of 2023. Approximately 3,000m2  of additional retail space will be completed, which will expand the total retail space in the terminal to 29,000m2. Passenger Terminal World speaks to Nora Immonen, vice president and director of the commercial services business unit at Helsinki Airport, to find out more about the development.

What design considerations did the airport take into account when creating the space?
Helsinki Airport has gone through extensive changes during Finavia’s 10-year development program, which is currently being finalized and will end this autumn. We have been remodeling almost the entire Helsinki Airport during the last couple of years.

In designing the new service and meeting area, as well as other areas of Helsinki Airport, our plan has been to create intuitive flows and visibility to the apron as well as some intimacy – something that is always not so typical for terminal buildings. The space needs to be easily navigated and the passengers should feel confident in doing so. We also want to give passengers a quintessential Finnish experience. We have used a lot of Finnish design elements and brought in pieces of Finnish nature inside the terminal.

Pic: PES Architects and Finavia Corp

What prompted the airport’s decision to open 17 new restaurants and shops?
We are always looking to improve the passenger experience at our airports. The opening of the new services comes as a part of Helsinki Airport’s extensive development program, which has seen the airport improve in not only the services provided but operational efficiency as well.

We believe that eating and shopping at the airport is a part of the whole travel experience and the passenger’s journey at the airport. We also want to bring forward local Finnish brands and trends, both in retail and in food and beverages.

How are the latest additions expected to affect airport operations?
The recently opened spaces, premises and services have received a very warm welcome and we believe they will have a positive impact on Helsinki Airport’s overall performance. Helsinki Airport was recently honored as the best airport in Europe in its size category, receiving the airport service quality (ASQ) award granted by Airports Council International. This year we have also received the Skytrax award for the best airport in Northern Europe. We aim to build upon this success and continue improving the world-class service Helsinki Airport has become known for.

In your view, what are the most important trends shaping the commercial services sector of the industry?
Ease and convenience – but also positive encounters – are the cornerstones, now and in the future. Helsinki Airport wants to be a calling card for Finland and a place Finns can be proud to call their airport. We have strong Finnish entrepreneurs and brands, and we are proud to strongly put forward new trends in eco-shops as well as sustainability and recycling.

As part of this push for sustainable development, we are proud to welcome the Finnish family firm Relove to Helsinki Airport. When opened in the autumn, Relove will become the world’s first second-hand concept store located at an airport.

To find out more about the industry’s latest retail updates, read the latest issue of Passenger Terminal World, here

Pic: PES Architects and Finavia Corp

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