Ensuring smooth air traffic

The expansion of Helsinki Airport is one of the most challenging construction projects ever undertaken in Finland. The builders are expected to deliver top quality results with no compromise on safety. 

At 67 metres long, the Airbus A350, Finnair’s latest acquisition and the airline’s new flagship carrier on routes to Asia, is a true aviation giant. At the opposite end of the scale, the 36-metre-long Embraer 190 looks not much bigger than a fly.

But Lemminkäinen team is not here for plane spotting. For them, as they work hard to provide Helsinki Airport with the new capacity, all aircraft are created equal, regardless of their size.

“What really matters during this project is that we are able to work around the airport’s day-to-day operations at all times. The smooth running of the air traffic is Finavia’s key priority and the aim is to ensure that passengers do not even notice the construction work taking place around them,” explains Site Manager Mikko Kuusisto.

Work on the Helsinki Airport terminal expansion started in late 2015. We will add a total of 76,000 m2 of gross area to the terminal building, which was first completed in 2009.

“Helsinki Airport anticipates that it could be welcoming up to 30 million passengers annually. in 2015, 16 million passengers passed through the airport, with the number rising to over 17 million in 2016. During peak times, you can really sense how busy it gets,” notes Jarkko Lahti, Project Engineer.

Complex project in the unique environment

In production terms, the construction site at Helsinki Airport is truly one of a kind.  For example, when we want to bring new building materials to the site, we need to time it carefully because there is a major taxiway to cross along the way. When we have a large-scale casting operation on the go, we need to keep up the supply, but also to make sure we don’t get in the way of air traffic.

Technically speaking, this project is probably about as complex as it gets. We are using both precast and in-situ concrete. To give you a sense of the scale involved, it takes the most powerful tower crane in Europe to shift the elements, which can weigh more than 30 tonnes.

In security terms, too, the project has few equals. In fact, you could say that we are carrying out the work on the Finnish border as that is precisely what some areas within the airport are.

“Passenger aircraft pass just a few metres away from where we work. Beyond the fence is the airport’s area, which is subject to rigorous security measures,” Lahti explains. 

FACTS

  • We have been chosen by Finavia, the Finnish airport operator, to deliver an extension to Helsinki Airport’s terminal.
  • The terminal’s gross floor area is set to increase by 76,000 m2. The project comprises a new departure lounge and a new twin-winged terminal building as well as security check and retail facilities connecting the two areas.
  • The project forms part of Finavia’s transfer flights development programme, which is due to be completed in 2020.