The National Bureau of Investigation has launched a preliminary investigation into suspicions of bribery involving National Conciliator Juhani Salonius and Veikko Sievänen, executive of the Finnish airline, in connection with a recent holiday flight to Thailand according to Finish Newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.
The request for an investigation came from the Finnish Airline Pilots’ Association, which suspects that a Finnair representative tried to influence the outcome of mediation in a labour dispute by upgrading Salonius to business class.
The decision to move Salonius to business class was made by Sievänen. He is also a representative of the employer’s side in the dispute with the pilots. The price difference between business class and tourist class is often significant. For instance, a one-way business class ticket from Helsinki to Bangkok at the beginning of next week cost nearly EUR 800 more than a seat in tourist class.
According to Finnair, Salonius had bought a ticket for a package tour from a travel agency, and asked to be assigned a seat row at an emergency exit. Salonius has a hip injury, and would have liked more sitting space for that reason. However, security regulations would not allow for him to sit at an exit row, and he was moved up to business class instead.
Salonius took himself off the mediation effort between the flight crew and Finnair management when the complaint was lodged against him. He has been replaced in the mediation effort by his deputy Esa Lonka.