FINNAIR is preparing to launch its two new routes to Asia next month, but further expansion to this region is likely limited in the near future.
The airline will kick off thrice-weekly flights to Xi’an and Hanoi (TTG Asia e-Daily, November 29, 2012), becoming the first European airline to connect these cities and bumping up its Asian destinations to 13.
In addition, Qatar Airways’ and SriLankan Airlines’ upcoming entry into Oneworld will also spell opportunities for Finnair to extend its reach, said Finnair’s senior vice president commercial, Allister Paterson, at a press conference at Helsinki Airport.
However, expansion in Asia will be restricted until the airline starts to take delivery of its 11 Airbus A350 aircraft order in 2015, Paterson revealed. The airline’s executives declined to reveal new destinations on the company’s radar.
Said Finnair deputy CEO, Ville Iho: “North Asia-North Europe is the sweet spot for Finnair. Going via Helsinki saves four hours on average, an important consideration for business travellers.”
Added Paterson: “The Asia-centric approach works better for the Far East markets. We are seeing good load factor on our Asian routes, although they are lower on developing markets like Chongqing and Xi’an…Not everyone knows the Polar route, so we need to teach geography (to the travel trade). There is a lot of growth left in Asia, which we plan to grow.
“For almost all of our Asian destinations, our location in Helsinki enables us to make a round trip within 24 hours, allowing us to optimise daily schedules and drive up aircraft utilisation.”
Finnair has outlined plans to double its revenue from Asia-Europe traffic by 2020 from a 2010 baseline (TTG Asia e-Daily, September 15, 2011).