Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Helsinki Airport

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Airport type

Helsinki, Finland

1952 (1952)


+358 200 14636



01531 Vantaa, Finland

55 m

Pekka Salminen

Helsinki Airport

Hub for
CityJet (on behalf of SAS) Finnair Norra Jet Time Norwegian Air Shuttle TUIfly Nordic


Helsinki airport in finland hel inside helsinki vantaa airport

Helsinki Airport or Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (IATA: HEL, ICAO: EFHK; Finnish: Helsinki-Vantaan lentoasema, Swedish: Helsingfors-Vanda flygplats) is the main international airport of the Helsinki metropolitan region. The airport is located in the city of Vantaa, about 5 kilometres (3 mi) west of Tikkurila, the administrative centre of Vantaa and 9.2 NM (17.0 km; 10.6 mi) north of Helsinki city center. The airport is operated by Finavia. Helsinki Airport is the leading long-haul airport in Northern Europe.


The airport is the main international gateway to Finland and the biggest airport in the country. It is the 31st largest airport in Europe and 4th largest in the Nordic countries in terms of passenger numbers. About 90% of Finland's international air traffic passes through Helsinki Airport. The airport handled 17.2 million passengers in 2016, including 14.5 million international passengers and 2.7 million domestic passengers. The airport handled 165,430 tonnes of cargo in 2015. On average, the airport handles around 350 departures a day.

The airport is the main hub for Finnair, the flag carrier of Finland, and its subsidiary Nordic Regional Airlines. It is also the hub for CityJet (on behalf of SAS), Jet Time, TUIfly Nordic and operating base for Norwegian Air Shuttle and Primera Air. The airport is also a focus city for Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia. Helsinki Airport handles around 40 airlines, including 28 scheduled and 13 charter airlines, while offering scheduled and charter flights to over 130 destinations in 45 countries worldwide. The airport offers a total of 21 direct long-haul routes to Asia and North America and numerous long-haul charter destinations. Currently Helsinki Airport has two terminals with a total of 27 jet bridges and numerous remote parking stands.

Visit to the helsinki vantaa airport helsinki airport


Originally built for the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, the airport is today the fourth busiest airport in the Nordic countries, with 16,422,266 passengers having used the airport in 2015. This number makes up for around 90% of the total number of passengers in Finland's 21 commercial airports combined (around 20 million) making it the busiest airport in Finland by far. It provides jobs for 20,000 people and there are 1,500 companies that operate at this airport. The airport is operated by Finavia, the state-owned enterprise that operates Finland's airports.

As of February 2015, there has been a proposal to rename the airport as "Sibelius Airport" after Jean Sibelius, Finland's most famous composer. The proposal stems from the project group of Jean Sibelius's anniversary year 2015, the foundation for the Sibelius birth city foundation and the Sibelius society. The Finnish government ministers Alexander Stubb, Antti Rinne and Paula Risikko have expressed positive feedback for the proposal.

Opening and early years

Plans for a new airport at Helsinki had begun as early as the 1940s, when it had become evident that the old airport at Malmi could not handle the increasing number of passengers or the new, heavier aircraft.

Helsinki Airport was originally built for the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. The first two Aero Oy DC-3 aircraft, OH-LCC and OH-LCD, landed on 26 June 1952. While Aero (now Finnair) used Helsinki-Malmi Airport, charter flights were directed to the new airport on 26 October 1952. The airport originally had a single runway, the second runway being built four years later in 1956. Regular jet flight operations began in 1959. The year 1973 saw the first security checks being carried out for international flights. A new terminal opened in 1969, while the first transatlantic service to New York was inaugurated on 15 May 1969.


The name Helsinki-Vantaa Airport was taken in use in 1977. In 1983, the airport began offering the first non-stop service from Western Europe to Japan as Finnair commenced regular service between Helsinki and Tokyo with a single McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30ER. In the 1970s, Pan Am operated flights from Helsinki to the US. The passenger terminal was expanded for the first time in 1983 and five years later, in 1988, the airport handled over six million passengers annually. In 1991, Delta Air Lines commenced its operations at the airport. A new terminal was constructed for domestic flights in 1993. In 1996 the international terminal was expanded and merged with the domestic terminal. At the same time, the new control tower was completed. In November 1999, the international terminal was further expanded and the lobby for arriving and departing passengers was built.


In 2000, the airport handled over 10 million passengers for the first time in its history. The third runway was inaugurated on 28 November 2002 and the first user was Finnair's McDonnell Douglas MD-11 en route to New York. In 2004, the international terminal was again expanded and a new shopping area was opened for long-haul passengers. In 2009, the latest expansion of Terminal 2 was completed. The total floor area was 43,908 square metres (472,620 sq ft). The same year witnessed the opening of a new shopping area and spa for passengers on long-haul flights, the removal of a terminal-specific division between domestic and international flights, and the renovation of Terminal 1 for international flights. In the same year TAP Portugal commenced service between Helsinki and Lisbon.

During the 2010s, Helsinki Airport has experienced large increases in number of the annual passengers. In April 2010, Norwegian Air Shuttle opened its first routes to Oslo and Stockholm using Boeing 737 jets. Now the airline is the one of the largest operators at the airport with around 30 destinations.

In 2011, Helsinki Airport saw its biggest growth in a single year in number of passengers. The amount of annual passengers was increased by 2 million passengers and the airport reached the milestone of 14 million passengers. As of 2008, easyJet had operated three routes from Helsinki to Manchester, London–Gatwick and Paris–Charles de Gaulle. However the low-cost carrier cancelled these routes in 2011, citing weak demand at the Helsinki end of the routes. In May 2011, American Airlines opened summer seasonal service between Helsinki and Chicago, United States using Boeing 767 jetliners. However, the airline cancelled service in 2014 as the route was converted to Finnair. In November 2011, Austrian Airlines cancelled its Vienna-Helsinki operations. In 2012, Helsinki Airport got its another daily service to Tokyo as Japan Airlines commenced service to Helsinki using Boeing 787 Dreamliners. In the same year, Czech Airlines ceased its Helsinki operations due to low demand. A year later, LOT Polish Airlines cancelled its service to Helsinki. In 2014, a number of airlines cancelled their operations. In that year Aer Lingus and Germanwings as well as S7 Airlines and Wizz Air that also started operations in that year, cancelled services to Helsinki.

In the beginning of 2015, the renovation and construction work related to development of Helsinki Airport started. For example, the Baggage Claim Hall 2B and Arrival Hall 2A were renovated and in July 2015, train operation on the Ring Rail Line and connection to Helsinki Central Railway Station were opened. In March 2015, Swiss International Air Lines started operations to Helsinki but cancelled it a year after. In late 2015, Blue1 ceased all operations from Helsinki which was the airline's only base. The airline flew to 28 destinations in Europe. Scandinavian Airlines sold Blue1 to CityJet, which continues to operate the company on behalf of SAS as part of a larger relationship. In 2015, the airport handled up to 16 million passengers for the first time. In March 2016, Czech Airlines resumed flights from Prague to Helsinki using Airbus A319, Boeing 737-400 and Boeing 737-700 aircraft. On 10 October 2016, the first Gulf carrier Qatar Airways commenced operations at the airport. On 27 October 2016, Norwegian Air Shuttle announced to double its flights from Helsinki within next five years and plans also launch long haul flights from the airport.


The airport is nominally divided into two terminals, located 250 metres (820 ft) apart and linked by an internal pedestrian connection both airside and landside. In practice, however, the airside parts of the terminal buildings are not divided into Terminal 1 (the former domestic terminal) and Terminal 2 (the former international terminal) but to Schengen and non-Schengen areas. The terminal capacity of the airport is approximately 16–17 million passengers per year.

Domestic flights as well as flights to European Schengen countries are operated from gates 11–31. Long-haul and European non-Schengen flights are operated from gates 31–38. As the terminal extension is completed, the airport will have 60 gates altogether with 19 gates in Terminal 1 and 41 in Terminal 2.

In 2014, Helsinki airport introduced the world's first passenger tracking system, which automatically monitors crowd congestion and prevents bottlenecks at the two-terminal airport.

Terminal 1

Terminal 1 (gates 5–15) has 11 gates of which four are equipped with jet bridges. The terminal opened in 1952 and is the first terminal at the airport. It is used by Star Alliance carriers, such as Aegean Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, and TAP Portugal. In addition to Star Alliance members, airBaltic and Vueling also operate flights from this terminal. Previously, Icelandair operated its services to Reykjavík from this terminal but moved to Terminal 2 on 13 April 2015. Currently, no carriers operate long-haul flights from Terminal 1. The terminal has a train connection to Helsinki Central railway station.

Terminal 1 passenger facilities include tax-free shops, free wireless Internet access, power sockets, and lockers. There are also several restaurants, cafés and the SAS Business Lounge.

Terminal 2

Terminal 2 (gates 16–60) opened in 1969 for international operations and, at present, also serves domestic flights. It is the largest of the two passenger terminals at the airport. All intercontinental flights operate from Terminal 2. The non-Schengen area of Terminal 2 has been enlarged in 2009 enabling the airport to accommodate eight wide-body aircraft at gates simultaneously while a new shopping area and a spa were opened for passengers on long-distance flights and the division between domestic and international flights was removed. Terminal 2 has many restaurants, bars and shopping areas. The terminal is equipped with 26 aircraft parking stands with passenger bridges. The terminal has a train connection to Helsinki Central railway station.

Terminal 2 passenger facilities include: numerous tax-free shops, Avis, Europcar and Hertz-car rentals, free wireless Internet access, power sockets, lockers, sleeping pods and transfer service desks. Currency exchange, cash machines (ATM), tourist information, an Alepa grocery store and pharmacy are also available. For children, there are also several playrooms. Dining facilities include Burger King and O'Learys Sports Bar as well as numerous other restaurants and cafés. Terminal 2 also includes two Finnair lounges: Finnair Lounge in the Schengen-area and Finnair Premium Lounge in the non-Schengen area.

Terminal 2 is used by member airlines of Oneworld and Skyteam airline alliances. Turkish Airlines makes an exception among Star Alliance airlines by using Terminal 2. In addition to the scheduled services listed, almost all charter flights are handled at Terminal 2. The current airlines using Terminal 2 are Aeroflot, Air Berlin, Air Europa, Airest, Arkia, Belavia, British Airways, Budapest Aircraft Service, Corendon Airlines, Czech Airlines, Finnair, Nordic Regional Airlines, Freebird Airlines, Iberia, Iberia Express, Jet Time, Icelandair, Japan Airlines, KLM, Nextjet, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Nouvelair Tunisie, Onur Air, Primera Air Scandinavia, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, Sun Express, Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia, TUIfly, TUIfly Nordic, Thomson Airways, Transavia (from 27 March 2017), Turkish Airlines, Ukraine International Airlines and Ural Airlines, Wamos Air.

Other buildings

There are several airport hotels and office buildings on the grounds of the airport. The Aviapolis is a new international business park adjacent to the Helsinki airport area, already hosting the operations of numerous companies around the airport. In 2013, Finnair opened its new head office, known as House of Travel and Transportation (or "HOTT"). The construction of HOTT began in July 2011 and finished on time in June 2013.

Cargo facilities

Helsinki Airport has extensive cargo flight activity. There is a cargo area with cargo terminals and cargo transit facilities in the southeastern part of the airport area. ASL Airlines Belgium (formerly TNT Airways) and DHL have their own cargo terminals at the airport. At the airport there is a new cargo terminal under construction for Finnair Cargo that is the largest operator for passenger and cargo operations at the airport. Currently scheduled cargo operating airlines are AirBridgeCargo Airlines operated with Boeing 747 cargo aircraft, ASL Airlines Belgium, DHL Aviation operated by EAT Leipzig and IAG Cargo and FedEx, UPS Airlines. Turkish Airlines operates its cargo services to HEL with Airbus A310 and A330 cargo aircraft (sometimes operated by ULS Airlines Cargo and MASkargo). In addition to scheduled cargo operations many other cargo airlines such as Emirates SkyCargo, Kalitta Air and Lufthansa Cargo have random operations at Helsinki Airport.

Ground handling

The following handling agents provide ground handling services for airlines: Airpro, Aviator and Swissport.


Helsinki Airport has three runways: Runway 1 (04R/22L), Runway 2 (04L/22R) and Runway 3 (15/33). Runway 1 is 3,500 metres (11,483 ft), Runway 2 is 3,060 metres (10,039 ft) long and Runway 3 is 2,901 metres (9,518 ft) long. The runways can handle take-offs and landings of the heaviest aircraft in use today such as Airbus A380. The airport's three runways provide a platform for future growth while the airport is capable of accommodating wide-body aircraft. The use of three runways allows two runways to be kept open when clearing of snow and ice is needed (if one runway at a time is being cleared).

Principles of using runways

There are about twenty different runway combinations in use. The primary runway for landings is Runway 2 (15) from northwest, i.e. from the direction of Nurmijärvi, or Runway 1 (22L) from northeast, i.e. from the direction of Kerava, while the primary runway for take-offs is Runway 3 (22R) towards southwest, in the direction of Western Vantaa and Espoo. Aircraft with low noise can take off from Runway 1 (22L) towards the south at the same time. When the wind is from the north or east, Runway 3 (04L) or Runway 1 (04R) are usually used for landings, i.e. for approaches from south-west, the direction of Western Vantaa and Espoo, while take-offs are made from Runway 1 (04R) towards northeast in the direction of Kerava. At night-time, landings are primarily made using Runway 2 (15) from northwest, i.e. from the direction of Nurmijärvi, and take-offs using Runway 3 (22R) towards southwest, in the direction of Espoo. Jet plane landings to Runway 2 (33) from the southeast and take-offs from Runway 2 (15) towards the southeast are avoided due to dense population in the affected areas. At night-time, propeller plane operations towards the southeast are also prohibited unless otherwise dictated by air traffic safety. Air traffic safety is the main reason for not always being able to choose the optimal runway for noise control.

Main airlines

The following airlines maintain hub or base operations at Helsinki Airport:

  • Finnair is the largest airline operating at the airport, with an all-Airbus fleet of 48 aircraft (excluding Norra) based at Helsinki, providing scheduled services to the Middle East, Asia, Europe and North-America. Finnair operates flights from Helsinki to over 100 destinations, including around 20 intercontinental routes. All flights are operated from Terminal 2.
  • Jet Time is a charter airline that operates several flights from Helsinki to Europe.
  • Nordic Regional Airlines (Norra), a subsidiary of Finnair that operates to around 30 destinations in Europe. Norra has a fleet of 23 ATR and Embraer aircraft, all operated for Finnair. This airline operates from Terminal 2.
  • Norwegian Air Shuttle, a low-cost airline which operates to over 30 destinations from Helsinki to Europe and the Middle East, operating from Terminal 2. The airline is the biggest operator at the airport after Finnair (including Norra) and has served over 10 million passengers from 2010.
  • Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia uses Helsinki Airport as a focus city with many charter flights to Southeast Asia and Europe. The airline operates from Terminal 2.
  • TUIfly Nordic, a charter airline that operates to Southeast Asia, Europe and Caribbean in North-America. The airline operates from Terminal 2.
  • Long-haul traffic

    Currently 27 intercontinental routes to Asia, North America and the Middle East operate from Helsinki Airport. As of December 2017, there will be 8 destinations in North America, 19 in Asia and 4 in the Middle-East, altogether 31 routes with scheduled traffic. The airport saw its first intercontinental route on 15 May 1969 when Finnair commenced flights to New York City via Copenhagen and Amsterdam. First non-stop routes to Eastern Asia was commenced in 1983 with Finnair's flight to Tokyo, and Beijing five years after. In total, there are 19 destinations in Asia connected directly to Helsinki Airport with a total of over 100 weekly frequencies by Finnair, Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways. All these long-haul airlines will operate from September 2017 their Helsinki flights utilizing larger than Boeing 787 Dreamliner wide-body aircraft. Thomas Cook Scandinavia and Thomson Airways also operate charter routes to the South-Eastern Asia. In October 2016, Norwegian Air Shuttle announced that the low-cost airline would start long-haul operations from the airport in 2018.

    Development timeline

    In 2013 Finavia announced plans to expand the airport to serve up to 20 million passengers by 2020. The construction is set to begin in 2014 by adding capacity to check-in and transit areas at Terminal 2. The expansion project is estimated to cost 900 million euros. Among the completed and planned projects are:

    Completed projects

  • Renewal of Baggage Claim Hall 2B (Completed as of January 2015)
  • Renovation of Arrival Hall 2A (Completed as of June 2015)
  • Train connection (Completed as of July 2015)
  • Renovation of Runway 1 (Completed as of August 2015)
  • New bus terminal for remote aircraft stand operations (completed as of June 2016)
  • 3,000 new parking spaces (Completed as of August 2016)
  • New aircraft engine test site (Completed as of October 2016)
  • Planned projects

  • Finnair's new cargo terminal (March 2017)
  • The new southern wing (August 2017)
  • The new central plaza (Late 2018)
  • The new western wing (Summer 2020)
  • Expansion of Terminal 2

    Helsinki Airport has the capacity of about 16-17 million passengers annually. However the capacity was passed in 2016 as the airport handled over 17 million passengers. Finavia decided to expand the current terminal building to respond to the expected passenger growth within next few years.

    Part of the plan was to build a satellite terminal next to Terminal 2 but the plan was cancelled in favor of expansion under a single terminal building. In September 2014 Finavia revealed more detailed plans for the future expansion that will take place between 2014 and 2020. According to the plan Terminals 1 and 2 will be combined and expanded under one roof. This expansion work is one of Finland's largest construction projects. The expansion was designed by the Finnish architects’ office PES-Architects. The same office designed the previous Helsinki Airport expansions completed in 1996 and 1999, as well as the circular parking buildings in front of the terminal. The surface area will increase by 45%, luggage handling capacity will increase by 50%. The entire surface area of the terminal in 2020 will be approximately 250,000 square metres (2,700,000 sq ft)

    Terminal 2 will have new gates (8 additional gates to Terminal 2) and aircraft stands on the apron. All gates for long-haul flights will have double jet bridges (such as the ones at Incheon International Airport) to enable handling larger aircraft more efficiently. Finavia has made a contract with Thyssen Krupp Airport Systems for 16 wide-body aircraft stands with up to 33 new jet bridges. The first new jet bridges being installed to gate 38. Gate 49 will be able to accommodate the Airbus A380 superjumbo and there will be new aircraft stands on the apron accommodating the A380. Five of the gates will be able to accommodate two regional jets, such as Boeing 737s or Airbus A320s, simultaneously at a single gate.

    In June 2016, the new bus terminal for remote aircraft stand operations was opened to increase airport's capacity with gates 36A-M.

    On 20 September 2016, the construction on the west wing begun, even though it was expected to start in summer 2017. The construction of the west wing is expected to be finished in 2020. The west wing represents some EUR 300 million of Finavia's substantial total investment of EUR 900 million. The first part of the west wing to be built is the large central plaza, which is scheduled to open in late 2018. It will bring 25,000 square metres (270,000 sq ft) of new passenger and baggage facilities to the airport.

    The Helsinki Airport development programme also includes plans to expand Terminal 2 to the area currently used for parking and public transport. This would provide more space for check-in, security control and baggage operations, allowing the airport to concentrate all departure and arrival services to a single terminal.

    Construction of the southern wing of Terminal 2 started on 4 January 2016. Once the southern wing is completed in summer 2017, the floor area of the terminal will increase by a total of 7,850 square metres (84,500 sq ft). There will be two floors: one for arriving passengers, the other for departures. The area of the apron to be renovated covers a total of 157,000 square metres (1,690,000 sq ft).

    New cargo terminal

    The construction of a new freight terminal (35,000 m2 or 380,000 sq ft) began in March 2015. The capacity of the terminal is being expanded to accommodate the growing freight capacity that will be provided by Finnair's Airbus A350 XWB fleet. Finnair's freight operations will continue in the current location until relocation to the new freight terminal in spring 2017.

    Planned third terminal

    In addition to the terminal expansion, Finavia has also contemplated building a third terminal at Helsinki Airport. According to Finavia's tentative plan, the new terminal would be located between runways 04R/22L and 04L/22R, while runway 15/33 would be removed. The terminal would be the principal terminal at the airport but the check-in area would stay in the current terminal building. The decision to build the third terminal has not been done yet.


    Helsinki Airport offers scheduled and charter flights to over 150 destinations in 50 countries around the world. The following airlines offer scheduled flights at Helsinki Airport:


    ^1 Some flights operated by Danish Air Transport.



    ^2 Some flights operated by MASkargo or ULS Airlines Cargo.

    Busiest routes

    30 busiest European routes by passengers handled:

    19 busiest intercontinental scheduled routes by passengers handled:

  • ^1 Passenger volume of Helsinki – Chongqing route is from 2014 as a comparison. No data found for 2015 so far.
  • 10 busiest domestic routes by passengers handled:

    Countries with most handled passengers
    to/from Helsinki Airport, excluding charters (2016)

    Airline market share

  • ^1 Includes Nordic Regional Airlines
  • Passengers

    Overall Helsinki Airport has served up to 107,462,215 passengers in the 2010s (2010-2016) and 122,043,499 passengers in the 2000s (2000-2009)


    The Ring Rail Line railway link to the airport opened for traffic in July 2015. The new railway serves local commuter trains running at 10-minute intervals at peak periods, although capacity problems have prevented dedicated airport express style trains. The westbound commuter line "I" runs to Helsinki Central station via Huopalahti, while the eastbound commuter line "P" runs to Helsinki Central station via Tikkurila. The trip from the airport underground station to Helsinki Central station takes about 30 minutes and costs 5,50 euros. Eastbound trains stop at Tikkurila (8 minutes away) where passengers can transfer to trains going away from Helsinki, in the directions of Tampere and Lahti, including lines to Saint Petersburg and Moscow.


    Taxi ranks are located outside Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.


    There is regular bus service provided by the bus line 615 from the airport to the Helsinki Central railway station in 30–55 minutes, and major hotels and railway stations in the Greater Helsinki Area in 15–120 minutes. The chief operator of these services is the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority. A direct coach service by Finnair is also available to and from the city center (usually about 30 min). On 1 June 2016, the new bus terminal opened. It is located between Terminal 2 and Hilton-hotel.

    Coach connections, daytime and overnight, to all parts of Finland are provided by Matkahuolto and ExpressBus. They depart from the airport coach terminal.


    Helsinki Airport Wikipedia

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