Finnair isn’t Quite Finn-ished with Asia

When they decided recently to close down their Singapore route, it almost seemed as if Scandinavian Airlines was simply handing Finnair the Asiatic region on a silver platter.  Finnair, the next airline of choice, is one of the world’s oldest operating airlines with over 80 years of aviation experience in the northern skies.
Having just opened routes in main capitals of Asia such as Nagoya, Japan in June of this year and Guangzhou in China last autumn, Finnair seems to show no intention of slowing down its expansion in Asia. Further plans include introducing its services into New Delhi later in November of this year and Kuala Lumpur next May.
These additions, together with existing locations, will mean Finnair has the fastest connections to eleven of the most prominent destinations in Asia.  Finnair’s connections will be via the Helsinki gateway, the easiest gateway from Asia to Europe. They will have one direct route instead of the usual and painstakingly long transition from one plane to another at a different airport.
With the annual rate of travelling between Asia and Europe growing steadily by seven percent, Finnair is keenly aware of  Singapore’s growing potential in travel rates.  One of Finnair’s key Asian strategies is to start flying double daily from Singapore to Helsinki with excellent connections from 29 October 2006 to 25 March 2007.
“The two daily flights from Singapore to Helsinki and Europe is a significant strategy to increase our market share and traffic to Northern & Eastern European, Russian and Baltic regions which are our core markets” says Mr Jere Tala, Country Manager Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia of Finnair Plc.
“We will be offering our passengers a choice of a day or night flight to Helsinki” he added. “They can then continue with our fast transfer connection to over 30 European destinations”.
Last year alone Finnair carried more than 8.5 million passengers on its Asiatic routes. It is no wonder that a partnership for the double daily angle with Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways was made possible. Europe-bound passengers can choose one of the three airlines from Singapore to Bangkok and then proceed from Bangkok to Helsinki.
However one of the biggest challenges that Finnair faces, notwithstanding its excellent flight strategies, is to raise awareness of its services within the Asian market. Specifically Singapore may prove to be slightly difficult, as Singapore Airlines has one of the strongest presence in Asia as well as being a major player on the competitive ‘Kangaroo route’ between Europe and Oceania.
“What we try to do is educate the travel agents on our services” Mr. Tala responded. “The internet is also an extremely strong selling tool that we utilize to great extent knowing the usage of online surfing is huge in Singapore”.
According to Mr. Tala, internet sales are heavily promoted by Finnair who uses the latest technology to develop services such as internet ticket office. Travellers can book their flights without the hassle of waiting or the worry of misplacing or losing their tickets. It is also the cheapest method to get tickets since the service fees are subjected to nett prices.  Travel agencies that are commonly used to purchase tickets, even with promotions, may have hidden costs.
Other Finnair marketing strategies to raise awareness of the airline include advertising on taxis, the internet and postcards.  The aim is to reach out to travel agencies, Finnair’s prime target audience, followed by the locals, other expatriates and trade magazines.
Finnair, a member of the world’s leading airline alliance, oneworld, with the reputation for being the most punctual airline in Europe with the highest level of Finnish service, the first Nordic airline to introduce lie-flat seats and a premium flier program in their prestigious business class flights, is a coming force to be reckoned with in the Asian market.

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