Finnair passengers turning up at Helsinki for a flight to New York next month may be in for a surprise.
Instead of the rostered A330-300 they could well find themselves on board a B787 Dreamliner operated by LOT Polish Airlines.
Reports in the Polish media suggest that LOT will shortly sign an agreement with Finnair to lease one of its surplus B787s complete with crew.
If the deal does take place, the leased B787 will operate Finnair flights AY005 and AY006 between Helsinki and New York starting in December.
A Finnair spokesperson confirmed that the airline needed to lease a wide-bodied plane for a short period in December and January to cover flight operations while some of its fleet is retrofitted with new business class seats. “But no final decision has been made,” claims the spokesperson.
The above arrangement, should it proceed, would be ideal for LOT which is anxious to make more use of its B787 fleet. Poland’s national airline ordered eight of these planes (five of which are now in service) for an ambitious expansion plan which, because of LOT’s financial predicament (see news, January 6), never materialised.
But if Finnair were to lease a LOT B787 it would have to cope with reduced business class capacity on the New York route plus the fact that economy class passengers would have to adapt to less comfortable seating.
Finnair's A330s accommodate 42 business and 221 economy class passengers. It does not offer a premium economy cabin. By contrast LOT’s B787s carry 18 business, 21 premium economy and 213 economy class passengers.
LOT’s B787s offer proper flat bed seating in business class but the economy seats are configured 3-3-3 and are only 16.9 inches wide.
Finnair’s A330s have angled lie-flat seats in business class. But economy is disposed 2-4-2 with seats meeting Airbus' 18 inches industry standard (see news, October 28).