Developments are underway to turn Helsinki into a transport hub of the future. The gateway between Asia and the west. Find out how business is already capitalizing on this emerging ecosystem.

“Connecting Flights,” reads a large neon sign in languages including: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Arabic. A group of Japanese businessmen rush past me as I stop to look.

I am standing inside the Helsinki Airport, which has grown significantly over the past decade.

The transport hub between Asia and Europe accommodates more than 15 million connecting passengers each year. Growth continues.

“We expect the passenger numbers to increase up to 20 million by 2020,” says Ville Haapasaari, Airport Director from Finavia.

Business ready to board

More than 61 per cent of Amcham members say development of the air-travel gateway between Asia, America and Europe, is key to their own growth, a recent TNS Gallup survey shows.

The sentiment is already being put into practice. Companies, including Amcham members, are setting up shop in the vicinity.

“There are more 20,000 people working around the airport and the number of jobs will increase as air traffic volume increases,” says Haapasaari.

An increase in passenger volume to 20 million, is estimated to create 5,000 jobs over ten years.

Finnair is one company leading the way; making growth targets a reality.

“The more visible Helsinki is as a truly international hub, with comprehensive direct flight connections and logistics, the more attractive it becomes as a place to meet, conduct business and base operations,” says Allister Paterson, Finnair’s Chief Commercial Officer.

The company is increasing North Atlantic traffic through its oneworld alliance with partner airlines. A similar joint business venture with Japan takes effect as of April 1st.

“If we meet or exceed growth targets, we can contribute to transforming possibilities for Finnish firms – opening up Finland to more investment from abroad.”

An airport to write home about

Engineering, design, relaxation and keeping all queues under 15 minutes, contribute to the changing Helsinki Airport experience, says Haapasaari.

The Airport Cluster Finland, a joint venture of service providers, is helping deliver the experience to travelers.

Services such as state of the art relaxation areas and technology designed to handle severe weather conditions.

“We are willing to share all that know-how, experience, and tailor made service packages with rest of the world,” says the group’s Director Mikko Sjöberg.

Transport developments not only sky high

Air travel is just piece of the international transport hub puzzle. On the ground, a significant railway infrastructure project is being planned. With a €3.6 billion investment, the Rail Baltica project will connect Helsinki to Berlin.

The project’s European Coordinator Pavel Telička says it’s an overdue step to integrate the Baltic region into the European Rail market.

Speaking at a recent Amcham event, he described it as the “transport policy of the 21stcentury” providing real opportunities for business integration.

“The EU recognizes it as a priority project that will connect the Baltic region to Europe’s biggest ports,” he told the international gathering, urging business to put a united case forward to Brussels.

Read more about Rail Baltica project here.