Finnair to increase weekly flights to Asia

14 Sep 2011

Finnair is in the process of increasing flights to and from Asia all the way through to 2020, stated Mika Vehvilainen, chief executive of Finnair.

In its bid to carve out a niche for its home base as a transfer and connection hub between Europe and Asia, the boutique airline plans to launch new routes as well as consolidating partnerships across Asia. “Our target is to double our Asian revenue by 2020,” he said.

According to Vehvilainen, there are almost 30 million passengers travelling between the two continents everyday, half of which travel hub to hub. “That’s not the market we want to compete in,” he explained. Instead, Finnair has its eyes set on the other 15 million who are flying to places with stopovers.

Finnair has been targeting the Asian market since 1999. Back in 2001 and 2002, the airline had only 10 flights leaving for Asia every week.  At present, the carrier operates 74 flights weekly to the region and will eventually increase the number to 140 by 2020.

As reported earlier, the carrier will commence flights to Chongqing next year (see story here) while also “continuously scanning for new destinations within Asia.”

With regards to partnerships, the carrier revealed that it is looking at a co-operative agreement with Kingfisher Airlines in India, although there is nothing concrete yet.

Furthermore, being a oneworld airline alliance member, the carrier predicts that it will benefit from the potential joint venture agreement currently being negotiated between British Airways (BA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) (see story here and here). “I do feel that the BA and JAL venture will be an opportunity for us. I welcome that development.”

By 2014, Finnair will receive the first of its Airbus A350s, all of which will feature the carrier’s new flat bed in business class unveiled in 2009 (see story here). In total, the carrier has 11 A350 aircraft on order. 

“It makes no business sense to retrofit our A340s, which are used on some Asian routes, since we are just two years off receiving new aircraft.” These new A350 planes will replace the A340s, which are fitted with angled business class seats.

In addition to developing its market share in Asia, the carrier is also undergoing a rebranding programme involving new a customer service philosophy and uniforms. Stay tuned for exclusive images of the carrier’s new uniforms and an outline of the refreshed brand image.

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Alisha Haridasani

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