Finavia Corporation and Capital Airports Holding Company (CAH), the largest airport operator in China, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the ‘Establishment of a sister airport relationship (MOU)’ in Beijing on 7 January 2016. Finavia is the first European airport operator doing so.
The collaboration is described as extensive, where the first action is a sister airport agreement between Helsinki Airport and the biggest airport in Asia, Beijing Capital International Airport.
The sisterhood strengthens the relationship between the two countries and airports in many ways. The objectives are benchmarking best practices and sharing knowledge, creating co-marketing activities in respective home markets, exchanging personnel and building competence. The staff exchange activities between Helsinki Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport is expected to begin in 2016.
The MOU contributes to Helsinki Airport’s target to be the number one transfer airport for passengers flying between Europe and Asia. Helsinki Airport is already the leading transfer airport in Northern Europe for long-haul traffic and it connects Europe and Asia with the shortest route.
Measured by the number of flights to Asia, Finland’s main airport is the fifth largest airport in Europe. In 2016, Helsinki Airport provides connections to over 130 destinations, including 17 direct routes to Asia and further destinations to almost all major European cities.
“We see Finavia as one of the leading and most competent airport groups. Helsinki Airport is a leading hub between China and Europe due to the shorter flying distance and minimum connecting time, as well as its first class performance in safety, security and customer service.”
“We value high the establishment of sister airport relationship with Finavia. We see Finavia as one of the leading and most competent airport groups. Helsinki Airport is a leading hub between China and Europe due to the shorter flying distance and MCT (Minimum connecting time), as well as its first class performance in safety, security and customer service. We look forward to our cooperation,” says Mr. Liu Xuesong, President and CEO of CAH, Chairman of Beijing Capital International Airport Co. Ltd. (BCIA).
The MOU allows both parties to strengthen and develop the connection between Finland and China and, in particular, between Helsinki and Beijing.
“Cooperation with the largest airport operator in China is no doubt a remarkable milestone for us. It will contribute to the attractiveness of both operators’ airports and to the development opportunities of the Finland-China routes. For Helsinki Airport, it represents an outstanding opportunity to develop a competitive edge regarding the Asian and especially the Chinese market in comparison to other airports in Northern Europe,” says Mr. Kari Savolainen, CEO of Finavia Corporation.
“The smooth air bridge between Europe and Asia brings foreign tourists to Finland where tourism has significant growth potential. According to statistics recently published by the Finnish Hospitality Association, the number of Asian tourists in Finland is currently increasing. For instance, the number of Chinese visitors staying overnight has increased substantially,” Savolainen says.
The route flying between Helsinki and Beijing has started operation since 1988. Finnair, Helsinki Airport’s home carrier, connects Helsinki and Beijing by offering a daily long-haul service with the Airbus A350 aircraft. It also operates a direct flight between Helsinki and Chongqing Airport, also managed by CAH.
Helsinki Airport is going through an extensive development programme worth EUR 900 million, during which Finavia will produce completely new services while integrating digitalization into the renewed customer experience through the use of the latest technologies.
In December 2015, a new milestone was reached when the annual passenger volume exceeded 16 million for the first time in the history of the airport. Thanks to the terminal extension created by the development programme, the airport can serve 20 million passengers annually in 2020.
Despite the extension plans, Helsinki Airport’s indisputable strengths of compactness and convenience will remain. All airport services will remain under one roof, distances will be kept short and services easily accessible.
CAH, affiliated to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), manages more than 40 airports in three municipalities, four provinces and one autonomous region of China, covering a population of 300 million people which accounts for 25 percent of the total GDP in China. Among all these airports, Beijing Capital International Airport is the busiest in Asia, and the second busiest in the world, in terms of passenger volume. CAH is also responsible for the construction and management of Beijing New Airport, which is scheduled to be put into operation in 2019.