ASIA could account for as much as 80 per cent of Finnair's revenue by 2020, up from the current 60 to 65 per cent, according to CEO Mika Vehvilainen, who revealed a vision 2020 for the carrier to be “the most desired alternative” between Asia and Europe.
Finnair plans to double the number of departures into Asia to 140 per week, from 74 now, by 2020. Vehvilainen told TTG Asia e-Daily that this would be a combination of new destinations in China, Japan and South-east Asia, and additional frequencies on existing routes, although he would not be more specific with details.
The airline flies to 10 Asian destinations, the latest being direct flight Helsinki-Singapore flights launched a few months ago (TTG Asia e-Daily, March 4). The 11th Asian destination, Chongqing, China, will be launched in July next year (TTG Asia e-Daily, July 6).
Since 1995, Finnair has been building its case as the ‘shortcut between Asia and Europe’, with flight time to Helsinki being less than 10 hours from all its Asian destinations except Singapore (11.5 hours). With two-hour transfers from Helsinki to more than 50 European destinations, it has been able to siphon off business travellers between the two continents, and now aims to be among the top three in transit traffic between Asia and Europe by 2020.
“Of 30 million passengers between Asia and Europe, half can fly direct, hub to hub, e.g. Frankfurt to Shanghai, London to Beijing, etc. The other half must transit (due to an absence of direct flights) – that is the market we're after,” Vehvilainen explained.
Vehvilainen said the future was not so much in European corporate travel going into Asia, but Asian business travel going into Europe.
The biggest limitation to expansion in Asia was aircraft capacity, Vehvilainen said. But Finnair has 11 Airbus A350 aircraft on order, with an option for eight more. A “very large part” of the additional capacity from the new A350s, which will take to the skies from 2014, will be deployed to Asia, he said.
“We've had an Asian strategy since 1995. Without Asia, we would not exist today...certainly Finnair wouldn't be the size and scale it is today without Asia,” he said.
- Full report in TTG Asia, September 30 issue