Finland’s flag carrier, Finnair, has recorded high passenger demand for February 2023. The airline carried over 823,500 passengers, 85.9 per cent more than in February 2022 and 0.9 per cent more than in January 2023.
Why Did Finnair Record High Passenger Demand?
Following the lifting of travel restrictions in Europe after the Covid-19 pandemic, many airlines have seen a boost in passenger numbers.
Finnair’s overall capacity, measured in Available Seat Kilometres (ASK), increased in February by 24.8% year-on-year but decreased by 7.7% month-on-month.
Available Seat Kilometres is a measure of passenger carrying capacity. It is equal to the number of seats available multiplied by the number of miles or kilometres travelled by the airline.
Finnair’s traffic, measured in Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKs), increased by 114.0% year-on-year but decreased by 3.8% month-on-month.
Revenue Passenger Kilometres are calculated by multiplying the number of revenue-paying passengers aboard an aircraft by the distance the plane travelled.
The Passenger Load Factor (PLF) increased by 31.4% points year-on-year and by 3.1% points month-on-month to 75.2%.
PLFs are calculated by multiplying the number of seats on board by the miles travelled. Passenger miles are the product of the number of miles travelled and the number of passengers carried.
In February, the Passenger Load Factor (PLF) improved, particularly in Asian traffic, with 76.1% and 59.5% in North Atlantic. The PLF was 79%, 78.1%, and 73% in European, Middle Eastern, and domestic traffic, respectively.
Passenger numbers increased in Asian traffic by 222.3% year-on-year and in North Atlantic traffic by 27.1%. In European traffic, passenger numbers increased by 72.3%, Middle Eastern traffic by 623.4%, and domestic traffic by 61.4%.
In February, 79.7% of all Finnair flights arrived on time.
Closure of Russian Airspace
In 2022, Russia closed its airspace, which negatively impacted Finnair. This affected the airline’s Asian service as most of Finnair’s flights between Europe and Asia use the route over Russia as it is the shortest and most environmentally friendly.
Winds or jet streams play a significant role when planning the detour around Russia.
Perttu Jolma, Head of Finnair’s traffic planning team, said: “Depending on the winds, we fly either the southern or northern way around Russia to Japan.”
“There are a lot of calculations to be done when planning the detour around Russian airspace. The longer route means more fuel burn, changes to the number of crew and their working hours, and all of this impacts the costs.”
Finnair resumed flights to Japan in March 2022 after suspending service following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The route avoiding Russian airspace will increase the flight time from 9 hr. 30 min. to 13 hours.
A Brief History of Finnair
The airline is one of the oldest operating airlines in the world. The airline was founded in 1923 and is known as Aero. The aircraft’s maiden commercial flight was to carry mail from Helsinki to Tallinn.
In 1949 Aero became a member of IATA (the International Air Transport Association) and received its airline code AY, which Finnair still uses today.
In 1983, Finnair was the first airline to fly non-stop from Europe to Japan, flying over the North Pole.
Since the airline was founded in 1923, the airline has recorded overall growth despite complex challenges.
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