Finnish flag carrier Finnair has published a brand-new traffic programme detailing the expansion of their European network across the 2023 summer season. The frequency of short-haul flights to existing destinations will be increased, while new destinations have been announced in Norway, Slovenia, and Italy.

Finnair Aircraft
A Finnair Airbus A321. Typically used on short-haul domestic and European routes from its base, Helsinki Airport. | © Ramon Kok

European Growth

Finnair currently flies to most European capitals at least twice daily, primarily serving business travellers. Following the recent announcement, the carrier has increased frequency to a number of these capitals, including Berlin, Copenhagen, Vilnius, and Riga.

New destinations include Bodø, the second-largest city in northern Norway, which Finnair will serve with three weekly flights. Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, returns to the network with flights to the Jože Pučnik Airport (LJU). The airline has also decided to supplement existing flights to Milan Malpensa (MXP) with a new route to the better-located Milan Linate (LIN).

Ole Orvér, Finnair’s Chief Commercial Officer, said:

“Travel has recovered at a good pace so we are increasing flights to popular destinations across Europe for leisure and business travellers.”

Retaining a Strong Domestic Presence

The expansion announcement comes when Finnair continues to grapple with the closure of Russian airspace, which has severely impacted the airline’s European-Asian transit operation through its Helsinki Vantaa Airport (HEL) hub. In recent decades, the airline has relied heavily on Russia’s vast airspace as a key route for its international network.

In response to the obstacles posed by the closure, flight paths were adjusted mid-way through 2022, with the airline circumventing Russian territory via the North Pole. Impacts on fuel efficiency and flight times have been significant; the Airbus A350 now travels a staggering 13,000km in 13 hours from Helsinki to Tokyo, using 20 tonnes more fuel than it did previously.

Helsinki Airport
Helsinki-Vantaa Airport | © Finavia

In September 2022, Finnair began to consider the network changes that would be necessary to return to profitability. As part of their strategy, the carrier announced a commitment to a “geographically more balanced network connecting Europe to Asia, India and the Middle East, and North America via Finnair’s’ home hub Helsinki, including a continued strong domestic presence.”

Indeed, Finnair’s new schedule details network links to 15 provincial airports. A number of these routes are categorized as “state-subsidized traffic until 30th July 2023“, a decision which was agreed upon in October 2022, when the carrier won contracts to serve five new domestic destinations after Finland’s Transport and Communications Agency launched a public tender procedure for them.

Long-Haul Connections

Finnair’s network overhaul also includes some changes to their long-haul flights. While it plans to retain strong links to locations in the U.S., such as Dallas (DFW) and Los Angeles (LAX), the airline’s intercontinental flights will primarily serve the Asian market. In his statement, CCO Orvér commented, “the Bergen and Bodø routes are seamlessly connected to our flights to Japan.”

The Japanese flights in question will serve both Tokyo’s Haneda (HND) and Narita (NRT) airports, as well as Osaka Kansai (KIX). Other Asian destinations will include Bangkok, Delhi, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Seoul, Shanghai, and Singapore, while the Middle East will also see representation with flights to Doha and Tel Aviv.

 

What do you make of Finnair’s upcoming summer schedule? Let us know in the comments below!

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