PTE Interview: How to boost capacity while maintaining the passenger experience

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Kimmo Mäki, CEO of Finavia Corporation, reveals how digitization, automation and simulation allow airports to increase capacity without negatively impacting the passenger experience, ahead of his presentation at this year’s Passenger Terminal Conference.

What will your presentation be about?

Helsinki Airport is growing extremely quickly as a gateway between East and West. To meet customer needs, Finavia has to build more airport capacity while maintaining its excellent levels of passenger service and simultaneously developing them to better meet the needs of customers in the future. Innovations and initiatives play a vital role in the development program to improve the passenger experience even further.

What are some of those innovations and initiatives?

In addition to building more airport capacity in our development program, we are developing customer experience, airline punctuality, processes and commercial services. The core of that part of development will mainly be based on using digitization and automation, together with many other stakeholders working at the airport. With open cooperation, we are able to provide – together with our partners – better and more reliable information to passengers about our services, schedules, delays and, for example, tips for wayfinding. Additionally, passengers can buy services. For example, they can book parking spaces or a table in the lounge. This can be done either by using our own app or via other digital channels.

Can you create more capacity without necessarily building more airport? 

Improving capacity utilization is one of our main targets. By developing better situational awareness and community channels, all service providers at the airport are able to focus capacity where needed and work proactively in case of sudden changes. For example, applying automation and self-service to check-in, border control and luggage handling is a key factor in improving capacity utilisation. We’ve developed new concept check-in kiosks and luggage drop-points that need less space than existing desks, so we are able to improve the capacity of our current departure hall. The same applies to parking and border control.

What is the latest on Helsinki Airport’s expansion plans – Terminal 2 in particular?

One of the most impressive new spaces at Helsinki Airport will open its doors this February. Aukio (pictured below) will be the heart of the long-haul expansion area, through which departing passengers will go to their flights and where arriving passengers will get their first impressions of Finland. As such, it will be an architecturally impressive space. Decorated with Finnish wood, its rugged wall and ceiling structures will set a striking backdrop for many kinds of events and phenomena.

Aukio is part of Helsinki Airport’s long-haul area expansion, designed by PES-Architects. Various facilities, such as modern security control, shops, restaurants and new services that provide passengers with a special experience, will be located around Aukio. It will add 25,000m2 of new passenger and baggage facilities to the airport as well as a connection to the South Pier for arriving passengers.

The opening of Aukio is part of Finavia’s ongoing development program at Helsinki Airport, which will see us invest over €1bn to expand the airport and increase its capacity. This is our largest expansion project to date, which is set to be completed by the early 2020s.

How do you engage with passengers and stakeholders regarding the expansion plan?

We will continue our long tradition of developing the airport together with our passengers, by inviting 200 volunteers to test Aukio’s new facilities and services. We also use a user-driven virtual model to better engage with our stakeholders throughout the planning of our expansion program. In this way, they will be more committed to our future and understand the changes that the expansion will bring about. Helsinki Airport is one of the first airport operators in the world to use 3D modelling on such a large scale.

Kimmo Mäki, CEO of Finavia Corporation, will present a paper titled, ‘Developing Helsinki Airport for the needs of future passengers’ at this year’s Passenger Terminal Conference, which takes place during Passenger Terminal Expo, 26, 27 and 28 March 2019, in London. Register here for your delegate pass.

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With over 20 years experience in editorial management and content creation for multiple, market-leading titles at UKi Media & Events (publisher of Passenger Terminal World), one of the UK's fastest growing publishing companies, Anthony has written articles and news covering everything from aircraft, airports and cars, to cruise ships, trains, trucks and even tires!

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