Finland’s Helsinki Airport has opened the first phase of its new West Pier under a €1 billion ($1.1 billion) investment program that will run to 2022.

The new 13,000 sq-m pier includes five jet bridges, a paid-access business lounge, two new restaurants and a child-care room.

“The opening of Helsinki Airport’s West Pier comes at a very good time as Finnair’s successful Asian strategy continues to increase the number of transfer passengers at our airport. In addition, the two new Chinese carriers signed by our route development team will start flights: Tibet Airlines in April and Juneyao Air[lines] in June,” Finavia executive director for Helsinki Airport Joni Sundelin said.

The pier has a natural-world theme, with wooden wall finishes made from Finnish birch and tree-like personal-device charging stations.

“We want to stand out by providing an exceptionally good customer experience and responsible operations…all our airports are carbon neutral,” Sundelin said.

Helsinki operator Finavia started the eight-year upgrade plan in 2014. Once completed in 2022, Helsinki will have 45% (103,000 sq m) more terminal space, eight additional widebody airbridge gates (doubling the current number), a refurbished 450,000 sq m apron, 50% more luggage-handling capacity, a 50% passport-control increase, 4,800 extra parking spaces and a new multimodal travel center.

“The extension project aimed at the development of transfer passenger capacity will be completed by the end of this year. July will see the opening of new premises for border control. The second phase of the West Pier, including the extension of the baggage handling facilities, will be completed during November-December,” Finavia said.

This year, the plan includes the extension of Terminal 1, the first and second phase of the West Pier, and gate and border control extensions. In 2020, this will be followed by a new indoor car park. By the end of 2021, one of the airport’s gate areas will be extended and Terminal 2 will have a new entrance, departures and arrivals halls. This will make way for the current arrivals and departure halls to be turned into a Schengen gate area in 2022.

Victoria Moores