Air transport | Heidi Härö arrived at Helsinki-Vantaa more than three hours before her flight – Goals cannot be reached on the field that has undergone hundreds of millions of euros of renovation

The renovated Helsinki-Vantaa airport has seen long queues throughout the summer.

Hard ones congestion plagues Europe’s major airports, and Helsinki-Vantaa has not been spared from the accumulation of queues. Longer than normal queues have been reported throughout the summer at the airport, which has recently undergone a renovation worth hundreds of millions of euros.

The queue continued on the field also when HS visited there on Tuesday. At three o’clock in the afternoon, a line of more than a hundred meters wound in front of the security check.

Employees dressed in attention vests guided the astonished people to the back of the queue. According to the staff, the estimated waiting time for the security check was about 25 minutes.

Before the security check line, however, many people had already queued for a long time for check-in.

Queued at Turkish Airlines check-in Heidi Härö said that he had already stood in the check-in line for half an hour. However, Härö, who is on his way to Malaysia, said that he was prepared for traffic jams. At the time of the interview, there was still three hours until the departure of the flight.

Was in the same line on the way to Istanbul Reda Ben Ahmad again said that he had already been in line for 45 minutes.

Finavian according to Helsinki-Vantaa, the longest queue times for security checks were around 30–45 minutes in June. The target time for the duration of the security check in Helsinki-Vantaa is 15 minutes.

Passengers have been asked to arrive at the airport on time, as there are plenty of holiday travelers on the move.

Finavia predicts that the queues will continue in July as well. The most passengers are on the move in the morning between 5 and 8 and in the afternoon between 2 and 6 p.m. Queues can form especially on Sundays.

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During the summer holiday season, many European airports have drifted into downright chaos. The fields have not coped with the increased number of passengers, as their staff has been exhausted following the pandemic. There have been difficulties in Sweden, Great Britain and the Netherlands, for example.

Read more: Queuing chaos continues at many European airports, operations at Helsinki-Vantaa are already “quite smooth” – Finnair gives three tips to avoid congestion

In addition, on Tuesday, the SAS pilots’ strike led to several flight cancellations in Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

Read more: “SAS pilots” regret in the Copenhagen subway that they cannot take the Danes on their summer holidays – HS monitored the effects of the strike at Kastrup airport

to Helsinki-Vantaa the airport switched to a one-terminal model at the end of June. Now all flights depart and arrive from the renovated terminal. The renovated terminal was previously known as Terminal 2.

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport Director Ulla Lettijeff presented the renovated T2 terminal at the end of November last year.

The airport’s Terminal 1 security check was closed at the end of June, when all the last airlines switched to flying from the new terminal.

Airport security has also gone through major upheavals.

The security check of the terminal now uses new device technology, the goal of which is to enable a faster security check than before.

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Read more: At Helsinki-Vantaa airport, liquid bags are no longer separated

However, the reforms have not been enough to guarantee smooth travel. Part of the reason is the lack of staff in Helsinki-Vantaa as well.

HS asked Finavia about queues and renovations.

Airport manager Ulla Lettijeff, how long has the queue for the security check been the longest in the summer?

“Half an hour. Momentary congestion is due to the fact that there are many flights in a short period of time in the morning and afternoon. In the afternoons, the peak of congestion is harder than usual and it usually lasts for about an hour, after which the situation calms down. Of course, I would like to urge passengers to arrive at the airport on time, especially in the mornings and afternoons.”

“Our goal at the security check is for the passenger to get through smoothly. Of course, sometimes there will be longer queues when there are more passengers than we have predicted.”

What are the reasons for the queues at the security check?

“Usually because there are so many passengers at once. It is normal for queues to form at the airport. We are sometimes short of staff on duty and on some days the staff may be on sick leave, which makes queues longer. This is daily.”

You mentioned security screening resources. Is there ongoing recruitment for the security check and have there been difficulties in getting manpower for the security check?

“The service provider recruits new staff all the time. This has been happening since last August. I don’t know exactly the details, but it’s good to recognize that you don’t just come to work for a security check, but that training and security clearances take time. If the service provider hadn’t purposefully recruited since August, the queues wouldn’t be half an hour at most, and we would be closer to the situation at some European airports.”

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Has the renewed terminal and security inspection proved to be sufficient in capacity?

“Yes. The queues are not a matter of the facilities’ capacity. When we get the planned personnel in place, the queues drag well. The new security check technology is much faster, more efficient and more passenger-friendly than the old one, as there is no need to remove electronics or liquids from the bags, it speeds up the whole process.”

Has the closing of the old terminal 1 security check affected congestion?

“Concentrating the security check in one terminal with new technology has helped. The use of more efficient machines benefits the passenger experience. The staff has moved from Terminal 1 to the new terminal.”

Are there special provisions for rush hour during the summer?

“We have prepared normally. We constantly monitor our passenger forecast. We look at daily forecasts and try to measure resources at the right time. We predict that there will be 1.4 million passengers in July, and we are very satisfied with this.”

Is the size of the new terminal sufficient?

“Yes. Queuing tapes are added as queues increase so people know where to go. The new devices are efficient in such a way that the queues move all the time.”

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