Finnair has signed a lease agreement with fellow oneworld carrier Qantas, for two of its Airbus A330 aircraft.

The deal will see an initial two-year wet lease period (where the aircraft are leased with Finnair crew), followed by a further two and a half year dry lease (with the aircraft being leased without crew).

The wet lease of the first aircraft will start in October 2023, followed by the second in early 2024.

During the wet lease period Finnair will operate its own scheduled flights from Helsinki to Bangkok and Singapore, with the pilots then continuing onto scheduled Qantas flights to Sydney.

The agreement helps Finnair “to ensure the optimal use of its A330 fleet” which is currently limited in its deployment across Finnair’s own long-haul operations due to the closure of Russian airspace.

For Qantas customers it means that when travelling on flights between Bangkok / Singapore and Sydney, they may experience Finnair’s new premium economy and innovative business class cabins, which are in the process of being retrofitted to the carrier’s A350 and A330 aircraft.

Finnair launches new business and premium economy seating

A spokesperson for Finnair confirmed that barring operational changes “Both Singapore and Bangkok are routes currently operated by Finnair’s refurbished aircraft, so the Qantas wet-lease will see those aircraft continue on from there”.

Finnair expects to complete the refurbishment of all of its long-haul aircraft by early 2024, at which point Qantas passengers on relevant flights would be guaranteed the new seats.

For our reviews of Finnair’s new business class seat on both the A330 and A350, click here.

The carrier’s focus on connecting Europe and Asia has been significantly affected due to the closure of Russian airspace, which has forced it to suspend some services and take longer routings on others.

In September last year Finnair announced plans to move towards “a geographically more balanced network connecting Europe to Asia, India and the Middle East, and North America via Finnair’s home hub Helsinki”, as well as reducing its fleet.

Finnair to reduce fleet and adjust network following closure of Russian airspace

Commenting on the agreement Antti Tolvanen, senior vice president, network and revenue management at Finnair, said:

“We are delighted to expand our collaboration with our oneworld partner Qantas. This agreement enables us to fully deploy our A330 fleet in profitable operations.”

However the Australian and International Pilots Association has criticized the move, with Captain Tony Lucas stating that the decision was “shocking, bitterly disappointing and could have been avoided with more effective management decisions”.

Quoted in Lucas said:

“It beggars’ belief that Qantas is outsourcing the Spirit of Australia while simultaneously converting two of our own A330 passenger aircraft into freighters.”

“The decision to wet lease illustrates the failures of the fleet planning processes of the last five years and certainly recent decisions made during the pandemic recovery.”

“Not only is it disappointing for our hardworking and dedicated pilots but it is also disappointing for loyal Qantas passengers.”

“Using the words of Qantas, stepping onto one of its aircraft is supposed to “feel like home”. Sadly this won’t be the case for passengers on these flights.”

“Getting another carrier to operate our routes is also significantly more expensive than operating the services within Qantas. This is a sad day for our great airline.”,