Transforming Helsinki Airport into the smartest airport in the world

Finavia Animation Artboard 1

Transferring between flights can be dreadful – running through crowds to a far-away gate only to miss your departure; then spending the night alone in a grimy airport hotel, waiting for that next red-eye out of town – yet the experience is far from it at Helsinki Airport, the pleasantly efficient transport hub of the Finnish capital region.

Finavia, which runs all of Finland’s 21 airports, including the Helsinki flagship, commissioned Reaktor to harness the airport's abundant passenger data. The result – a state-of-the-art contextual engine fueled by artificial intelligence – marks the evolution of Helsinki Airport into the world’s smartest transportation hub.

“Finavia and Reaktor have made connections a slick experience.”

Monocle 2018 Transport Survey

Project highlights

  • Facilitating exponential growth: Traffic at Helsinki Airport hit a record high of 18.9 million passengers in 2017 and is now on track to surpass the 20 million mark – almost four times the population of Finland. Yet the airport has never been more efficient.
  • Moving masses across terminals: Most of the passenger flow in Helsinki is en route someplace else; it centers on peak times, making the airport more packed during its rush hour than London’s Heathrow. Still the airport never feels too crowded.
  • One of its kind and a game changer for the aviation industry: Our work at Helsinki Airport was named one of the Top 10 transportation innovations of 2018 by Monocle magazine.
  • Fast and nimble: Truly agile, and continuously tested, improved, and refined to ensure optimal efficiency, the contextual engine is scalable to airports around the world and a living organism that feeds off of personalization.

A flying visit

How Helsinki Airport mastered the art of the connecting flight


The contextual engine ensures the smooth transfer of passengers from A to Z, or any gate or terminal to an other, and makes sense as Helsinki Airport grows at an ever-quickening pace.

Just look at the numbers: Connecting passengers are now a major business focus for Helsinki Airport, one that has in recent years become a transfer hub – smack right between Europe and Asia. Most of the passenger flow in Helsinki is en route someplace else, and there are more visitors passing through the airport than ever before.

This past year, traffic reached a record 18.9 million passengers, and it is on track to surpass the 20 million mark in 2018. That will be almost four times the population of Finland. It is important for the airport’s business that transferring passengers are able to move through with ease and that their experience at the airport is a positive one.

This is the way to smoothly transfer big masses of people in a relatively small space. The personalized guidance from the contextual engine means that the airport never feels too crowded, slow, or inefficient. Helsinki Airport continues to be voted the best airport of its size in the world.

Taking off

The technology and design behind our trailblazing engine

The vision for the customer journey at Helsinki Airport is one that is optimized to ensure passengers have all the information they need before they even think to ask for it.

The data for the contextual engine comes from flight schedules, simulation, and boarding passes that are scanned as transfer flyers arrive in the airport. That grouped data reveals surprisingly much about the travellers without breaching any single passenger’s privacy.

The engine is data-mining at its most helpful: it can tell where the most recent planes have arrived from and where their passengers are going next, but also what nationality those passengers are, whether they’re flying business class or economy, and even what their native tongue might be.

The AI machine then uses and analyses that information to show those passengers immediately relevant information to their needs as they move through the airport.

Hit the ground running

Curated connecting flights

Instead of having to comb through a list of hundreds of different connecting flights, arriving passengers are able to see on screens around them a shortlist of the five connections most pertinent to their flight.

Speedy security checks

Digitalized guidance shows each passenger how long it’ll take them to walk over to their gates.

добро пожаловать, ようこそ

Digital signs at terminals change languages according to the nationalities passing through: Russian for Russians, Japanese for Japanese.

Seductive shopping

Roadmaps tell passengers which airport restaurant to go for a quick bite of rye bread with smoked salmon or where to purchase that beautiful piece of quintessential Finnish design.

Spotless sanitation

Passengers are able to provide real-time feedback on the state of all facilities, from restrooms to vending machines.

Better targeting

Airport vendors and advertisers can tailor their offerings to match transfer traffic: Sunscreen for those en route to Spain or winter coats for travelers to Lapland.

“We wanted to do something to give the passengers peace of mind before they jet back home to Tokyo, Bangkok, or Moscow. With the help of Reaktor's AI-fueled contextual engine we are able to provide passengers with personalized information and help them optimize their time at the airport.”

Carita Närvänen, Development Manager, Finavia

Our contributions

  • Product roadmapping
  • User research
  • Design
  • Branding
  • Development
  • Software Application Architecture


Let's make ideas fly.

Konsta Hansson

Managing Director, Reaktor Aero

Get in touch