As Finnair stated in its interim report last month, the company is planning to increase the capacity in its European feeder traffic with a view to the growth of its long-haul capacity. As the first step, Finnair will temporarily lease two A321 narrow-body aircraft including part of the flight crew. The company is also assessing its alternatives for acquiring permanent additional narrow-body capacity.
Finnair’s traffic consists largely of transit traffic between Europe and Asia or America, with a transfer in Helsinki. Finnair’s present narrow-body fleet used in its European traffic is already efficiently utilised, and the passenger loads are high. Therefore, growth in long-haul traffic also necessitates growth in feeder capacity between Helsinki and Europe.
The additional feeder traffic capacity required by the growing long-haul traffic will be acquired by replacing small narrow-body aircraft with larger ones. Hence the company is planning to downsize its Embraer fleet and retire one ATR aircraft. Initially, the necessary capacity will be replaced by leasing two Airbus aircraft. Finnair will receive these aircraft for one year from May 2016 onwards.
Finnair is also preparing to acquire permanent additional narrow-body capacity, and it is assessing the best alternatives for growth. Finnair has already begun recruiting both pilots and cabin crew.
– We are adding some capacity to our feeder traffic by upgauging our aircraft size in order to enable our growth. At the same time, some of our traffic is still served most economically by smaller aircraft. Norra continues to have a key role as the operator of regional traffic, and it continues to carry a considerable share of Finnair’s European traffic, comments Finnair CEO Pekka Vauramo.
Finnair took delivery of its first A350-900 XWB aircraft on 7 October 2015, and according to the currently anticipated delivery schedule, it will have five A350 XWB aircraft at the beginning of the second quarter of 2016, seven by the end of 2016, 11 by the end of 2017, and 19 by the end of 2023. Some of the new A350 aircraft will increase the number of aircraft operated by Finnair, while some will replace wide-body aircraft with a lower passenger capacity.
Finnair’s strategic objective is to double its traffic between Asia and Europe by 2020 from the 2010 level. The strategy is based on the growing markets in Asia, fast connections between Europe and Northeast Asia, quality service, and cost-efficient, punctual operations.