Finnair is launching a new seasonal service to Sapporo, Japan this winter that will operate twice a week from December 15, 2019 until March 27, 2020.
The new non-stop service to Sapporo, Finnair’s fifth destination in Japan after Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka, will take around nine hours depending on the direction, according to the airline’s online schedule. This notably reduces travel time on the route by a minimum of three hours and cuts out the need for stopovers – mostly in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya – and transfers to flights operated by partner carrier Japan Airlines.
Describing Japan as a “key market” for the Finnish carrier, Christian Lesjack, senior vice president of network and resource management at Finnair, said: “Finnair is the only European airline to fly a scheduled route to Sapporo, and with five key Japanese cities in our network, we are now the largest European carrier flying to Japan.”
Flight AY065 will depart Helsinki on Thursdays and Sundays at 1705 and arrive in Sapporo at 0900 the following day, while the return AY066 leaves the Japanese city at 1135 on Mondays and Fridays before arriving back in the Finnish capital at 1410 the same day.
Finnair’s schedule shows that it will fly its Airbus A330-300 on the route rather than its newer A350-900, which operates a number of the carrier’s services to Asia-Pacific.
The A330 has two configurations offering either 32 or 45 seats in the business class cabin. The 45-seat configuration is split into two sections of 32 and 13 seats.
The seat product Finnair uses on its A330 is different to the herringbone seat used on the A350, and not all seats offer direct aisle access. Seats are forward facing and laid out in a staggered, alternating 2-2-1 and 1-2-1 pattern, making A seats in odd-numbered rows the least preferable, as those are stuck between the window and a neighbour. Optimal seats are the L seats on even-numbered rows, which are positioned closer to the window but have nobody next to them.
Business class seats have a 60-inch pitch (legroom) and a width of 20 inches, and are able to recline 180 degrees to form a fully flat bed. At the time of writing, return business class fares start from €4,709 (US$5,407) including tax and surcharges.
Seats in the economy class cabin, meanwhile, are laid out in a 2-4-2 configuration offering a pitch of 31-32 inches and a width of 18 inches. There are also five rows of Economy Comfort seats that offer slightly more legroom – between 35 and 37 inches.
Finnair doesn’t offer a premium economy option on board any of its aircraft, though in November the airline announced it would be introducing the cabin class across its entire long-haul fleet in 2021.
The Finnish carrier has been expanding its operations in Asia-Pacific recently, most notably signing a new codeshare agreement with former Skyteam member China Southern.
Finnair also has been boosting its frequency on its Hong Kong route and plans to operate double daily flights to and from the city from the beginning of April.