Finnair will add more flights to India, Japan and mainland China this summer. At the same time the Helsinki-based carrier will stop serving Singapore and will abandon plans to inaugurate flights to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
The highlight of Finnair's expansion is the launch of a five times a week service to Mumbai during June. In addition, the current three times a week link to Delhi (launched only a couple of months ago) will move to a daily frequency (see Business Traveller's review of the Helsinki-Delhi route in the February 2007 print edition).
Taking the bold step of operating 12 flights a week to India demonstrates that Finnair is planning for the future.
"It will be extremely hard, if not impossible, for airlines to secure new arrival and departure slots at Indian airports in coming years," says Henrik Arle, Finnair's deputy CEO for scheduled passenger traffic. "By adding to our Indian scheduled traffic now, Finnair is ensuring its presence in these fast-growing markets."
Other expansion plans for mid-May call for Guangzhou in mainland China to see a fourth weekly flight while Hong Kong (presently served four times a week) will move to daily. At the same time the popular service linking Helsinki with Osaka (known as the Manchester of Japan) will go from four a week to daily. Then in mid-June, Finnair will boost its Nagoya service from three to four flights a week.
"With 15 flights a week it will make Finnair the third largest Western airline operating between Europe and Japan," says Petteri Kostermaa, Finnair's VP for network strategies and management.
But at the same time Singapore (currently served as a continuation of the Helsinki-Bangkok route) will be dropped, and plans to launch a new service to Kuala Lumpur are to be abandoned.
The exact start date of the Mumbai service has still to be announced. But schedules show flight AY029 departing Helsinki at 2000 arriving in Mumbai at 0610 the next morning. Return flight AY030 will leave Mumbai at 0815 reaching Helsinki at 1350.
Finnair is acquiring two Airbus A340-300s during May and June for its long-haul network. These planes will operate alongside its existing MD-11s.
Good connections will be available at Helsinki for connecting passengers coming from cities in Scandinavia and mainland Europe.
For more information go to finnair.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter