Finnair will introduce a new year-round service connecting Helsinki and Sapporo, the capital city of Japan’s northernmost Hokkaido prefecture.

Finnair first announced the launch of the new Sapporo route in January this year as a twice-weekly seasonal service that will operate from December 15 this year until March 27, 2020.

The Finnish national airline said the extension of the service is “part of its strategy of sustainable profitable growth” in a press release.

The twice-weekly year-round Helsinki-Sapporo service will begin on December 15 this year on an Airbus A330-300 aircraft, and the flight time is about nine hours. During the winter season, outbound flights from Helsinki will depart on Sundays and Thursdays, while the return flights will leave Sapporo on Mondays and Fridays.

Below is the winter schedule on the route:

Flight No. From To Departs Arrives Days
AY65 Helsinki Vantaa (HEL) Sapporo New Chitose (CTS) 1705 0905 (+1) Sunday, Thursday
AY66 Sapporo New Chitose (CTS) Helsinki Vantaa (HEL) 1135 1410 Monday, Friday

In the summer season, Finnair will fly on Sundays and Wednesdays from Helsinki, and Mondays and Thursdays from Sapporo.

Finnair said it is the only European airline to operate direct scheduled flights between Sapporo and Europe.

Sapporo is Finnair’s fifth destination in Japan, following Tokyo Narita, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka. It is the capital city of Hokkaido, which is the largest and northernmost prefecture of Japan. Hokkaido is a popular winter and skiing destination, and is famous for its seafood, ramen and Japanese onsen – hot spring spas.

“Adding Sapporo to our network is very exciting,” says Christian Lesjak, senior vice president, network and resource management.

“Japan is Finnair’s largest market outside our home market Finland, and with five key Japanese cities in our network, we are now the largest European airline flying to Japan.”

Finnair is a member of Siberian Joint Venture together with Japan Airlines, British Airways and Iberia.

Recently, Finnair has announced the launch of a new route connecting Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and Helsinki in March 2020. Japan Airlines will also introduce its own service between Tokyo Haneda and Helsinki, which will follow a different schedule. The service is a result of a codeshare agreement with Finnair.

In addition to this Haneda service, Finnair also flies daily to Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

The airline said it will also add two weekly flights on its Helsinki-Osaka route at the start of the 2020 summer season, and this will increase the total number of Finnair’s weekly flights on the route to 12.

Both Finnair’s Helsinki-Sapporo and Helsinki-Osaka routes will be operated in codeshare with Japan Airlines as well.

In other news, Finnair now flies three times weekly to Beijing’s new Daxing Airport, and will start flying non-stop from Helsinki to the South Korean city of Busan in March next year.