Finland’s national airline is a popular choice with Business Traveller readers thanks to easy transfers at Helsinki and keen pricing.
Now comes news that Finnair will almost certainly expand its Asian network in the not-too-distant future.
Because according to a report by respected Swiss aviation website ch-aviation.com, the Russian government has granted Finnair additional overflying rights.
It means Finnair can, if it so wishes, operate as many as 80 flights a week via the Trans-Siberian route to Asia as against 65 at present.
Of course Finnair executives will not openly comment on its plans for commercial reasons. But, as surely as night follows day, we can expect Finnair to increase flight frequency if the demand is there.
Why are Russian overflying rights so important?
Because Russia, along with mainland China, are two of the countries who have the authority to deny airlines the right to overfly. These countries never signed the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) agreement of 1944.
Airlines who secure Trans-Siberian overflying rights gain access to a much shorter air corridor between Europe and Asia.
However in return the Russians demand royalty payments (the amount of which is a secret between the airlines and the Russian government).
Finnair was the first airline back in 1988 to link Europe with Beijing via the Trans-Siberian route. It was followed soon after by Scandinavian Airlines. Overflying Russia enabled flight schedules between Europe and China to be reduced from 24 to a mere eight or 10 hours.
In fact taking the Trans-Siberian route means a flight between Europe and Beijing would take roughly the same time as a flight between Europe and the US East Coast.
Finnair currently flies to Seoul (South Korea) in addition to numerous cities in mainland China and Japan.