This year Finnair celebrates 90 years of operation. Mr. Nick Naung Naung, Finnair’s Country Sales Manager based in Singapore, shares the airline’s vision and its success story.
With a long history of nine decades, Finnair is one of the world’s oldest operating airlines. The company started its operation on 1 November 1923 under the name of Aero O/Y with a Junkers F 13 servicing the Helsinki route. Today, Finnair has over 60 aircrafts servicing over 60 destinations in Europe, 13 cities in Asia with a total of more than 70 flights between Asia and Europe.
Mr. Nick Naung Naung joined Finnair as Country Sales Manager – Singapore, Malaysia Indonesia, in February 2011. He has over ten years’ experience in the travel tourism industry, and prior to joining Finnair he was the Trade Account Manager for Air France KLM. Specialising in flights between Asia and Europe, Finnair is one of the most innovative and safest airlines in the world, he says.
“I have this wonderful opportunity to work for a company like Finnair which has a clear vision of what it wants to be, the direction it is taking, goals and more,” says Nick.
Finnair’s vision is to be the number one airline in the Nordic countries, the most desired or preferred option among passengers in Asia, and to be among the top three in terms of transit traffic between Asia and Europe.
“I am proud that every day we try to bring to life our customer promise of being an airline that is ‘Designed For You’, through offering quality and being fresh and creative in everything we do,” says Nick.
He believes that these are some of the company’s core success factors that help distinguish Finnair from the other airlines in the field.
“I want to be a part of Finnair’s ongoing journey towards achieving its vision and being the best in its class and more,” he says.
Finnair’s history and growth
Nick tells us that in 1923 Finnair started its operation with a Junkers F 13, a single engine monoplane, equipped with a closed cabin and seats for four passengers. The crew consisted of a pilot and a mechanic. And it served only the Helsinki route.
Long-haul expansion to the United States began in 1969 with flights from Helsinki via Copenhagen and Amsterdam to New York. In 1975 Finnair received its first wide-bodied aircraft, the DC-10s, which could carry nearly 300 passengers.
Finnair’s Far Eastern expansion began with the start of the company’s direct flights to Bangkok in November 1976. On 22 April 1983, Finnair opened non-stop flights from Helsinki to Tokyo, the only European airline to offer such a service at that time. Direct flights to Beijing began on 2 June 1988, making Finnair the first Western European airline to have a non-stop route between Europe and China.
The airline currently has more than 60 aircrafts. The long-haul fleet comprises of 15 wide-bodied aircrafts. The present operating scheduled flights to 12 long-haul destinations include Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Delhi, Seoul, Singapore and New York.
“We are moving toward an Asia-focused strategy, the biggest markets will be Japan and Greater China, and of course our own market in Finland,” says Nick.
For Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, Finnair has special arrangement with its partner airlines so passengers flying to Europe can connect to direct flights from cities like Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong.
In the summer of 2013, Nick says that the company will introduce non-stop flights to Xian and Hanoi. According to him, part of Finnair’s 2020 vision is to double its revenues from Asia by adding markets and increasing frequencies between Asia and Europe.
Nick reveals that the foundation of Finnair’s growth strategy includes the growing Asian markets, fast flight connections and its competitiveness in the industry.
“We offer a ‘shortcut’ between Asia and Europe. Finnair flies the short, northern route with optimal business travel timetables and smooth transfers via a highly efficient HelsinkiAirport where transfer times are relatively short compared to other major European airports,” says Nick.
“This helps save time for our passengers, both business and leisure travellers,” he adds.
Finnair’s achievements in Singapore
Nick says there have been several achievements since the launch of the daily direct flight from Helsinki to Singapore on 31 May 2011. In September that year, Finnair partnered with Rovio Entertainment to organise the first Angry Birds Asian Challenge event where participating fans played the game at an altitude of 10,000 metres – in Finnair’s plane which was painted with Angry Birds’ characters.
Moreover, Finnair has recently won the inaugural Best Marketing award given by the Changi Airport Group. In November 2012, the company held a celebration at ChangiAirport to welcome its 100,000th passenger on the Helsinki-Singapore route.
“We surprised Finnair’s passengers by having ‘Santa’ and his elves giving out Marimekko tote bags while they were waiting at the carousel to pick up their bags,” says Nick.
In terms of load factor and revenue on the Singapore route, Nick says that the company is pleased with its performance as they have both exceeded expectations.
“We are getting more corporate clients, leisure travellers and support from other Southeast Asian countries. I am confident that we will continue to fulfill and even exceed our expected traffic and revenue goals,” says Nick.
At the moment, Finnair offers a daily flight on the Helsinki to Singapore route, except during the winter period where a schedule of four flights a week takes place.
Nick shared with us some of Finnair’s innovative marketing programs responding to customer demands and the growing market.
As of 28 November 2012 Finnair has introduced Fare branding – five new ticket types that will simplify the purchasing of flight tickets. He says that Finnair’s frequent flyer program, Finnair Plus, has also been renewed to make it more rewarding than ever before. The new ticket types are BUSINESS, BUSINESS SAVER in Business Class and PRO, VALUE and BASIC in Economy Class. The goal is to improve clarity in ticket pricing and offer fares to all segments of customers in the fast-growing air travel market, he says.
Finnair and renowned Finnish design house Marimekko have also teamed up to enhance the air travel experience with a new design partnership. From spring 2013, all Finnair aircraft will feature a Marimekko for Finnair collection of textiles and tableware, featuring Marimekko’s classic patterns. Nick says that the Marimekko for Finnair collection is specially designed to add a light and fresh visual and tactile dimension to the onboard experience, while lightening the airline’s carbon footprint.
Skytrax, the world’s leading airline and airport reviews site, has renewed Finnair’s four-star rating status as a seal of quality approval for the airline’s good quality performance. In fact, Finnair was named the best airline in Northern Europe at the 2012 Skytrax World Airline Awards. This is the third time that Finnair has come out top in this category.
Celebrating 90 years
To celebrate its 90th Anniversary this year, Finnair plans several marketing activities. For Singapore, the 90th Anniversary fares to Europe promotion has been launched, with prices from as low as SGD 1,029 in economy class and SGD 4,845 in business class. Travellers are suggested to check Finnair’s latest promotional fares on www.finnair.sg
“I am proud to be working for one of the world’s oldest operating airlines. Its long history is a strong reflection of the company’s ability to be innovative, flexible and nimble to respond to changing passenger demands and business environment,” says Nick.