Finnair’s Silk Road from Helsinki to the Far East

Kuala Lumpur will in May 2007 be added to Finnair’s Asian destinations. Vietnam may soon get on the list of destinations too! And there will be more flights on the existing Bangkok and Singapore route.
“Starting December 4th we will increase our flights to Singapore via Bangkok from 7 flights a week to 13 flights a week due to high demand from both leisure and business travelers,” says Markku Oravainen, Finnair’s Sales Director South East Asia & Australia.
By he end of this year Finnair will also introduce the new fuel efficient Airbus 340 to replace our current MD-11’s on this sector, he adds.
Finnairs Asia expansion started with scheduled Helsinki-Bangkok flights some twenty years ago followed by Singapore, which resulted in a rather unique advertising campaign: From Sin to Hel fly Finnair.
“We are negotiating landing rights in Seoul, Korea and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam. Finnish companies have a strong presence in Vietnam since the last twenty years,” Mr. Markku Remes, Finnair Product Manager, Intercontinental routes, explains to ScandAsia.
“Flights to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, via Bangkok will start in May 2007 with three flights a week. This will bring the total number of Finnair flights to Asia from eight flights to ten,” he elaborates.
Today, Finnair ranks third in terms of passenger numbers between Europe and Asia, exceeded only by the big players Lufthansa and Air France/KLM. 
“In 2005 Finnair flew totally 708 000 passengers to Asia and 70 percent of our passengers are non Finnish nationals,” Christer Haglund, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications Finnair told ScandAsia during a recent interview in Helsinki.
“Our Asia market share has grown with 30 percent last two years. Our balance sheet is strong and we are one of the few debt-free airline companies with over 9,000 employees. Our passenger load factor was 73 percent last year,” Mr. Haglund elaborates.
“A key part of Finnair’s Asia strategy is Helsinki’s geophysical position; closer to the North Pole than the Equator. Closer to Asia than Europe. Helsinki is unique as a link between East and West Europe,” says Christer Haglund.
“Another factor is our super short transfer times – approximately 35 minutes from gate to gate – from intercontinental to inter European flights. This is what makes Helsinki International Airport Vantaa and Finnair the fastest and most direct connection between Europe and Asia.”

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