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Finnair facing long-haul crisis as its Asia network is cut-off

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I am due to be in Helsinki on Friday to see and fly the new Finnair business class and premium economy seats.

Four years in the planning, the new seating is a key part of Finnair’s plan to bounce back from the pandemic. The airline was planning a rapid roll-out of the new seat, with all of long-haul aircraft to have it by the end of the year.

Finnair A350 business class seat bed

Unfortunately for Finnair, its long-haul strategy is based on flights to Asia via Russian airspace.

It is obviously impossible for the domestic Finnish market to support as many Asian routes as Finnair offers. What it has done for many years is offer competitive Business Class fares across Europe to Asia, via a connection in Helsinki. Because of where Helsinki sits geographically, it isn’t substantially slower than flying directly from the UK, Germany etc and you could make substantial savings.

Finnair new business class seat

Finnair put out a statement yesterday to say that, with the anticipated closure of Russian airspace to European airlines, its Asian network “is not economically sustainable or competitive”. The extra flying time and fuel costs required to bypass Russia would not work commercially.

The airline is able to continue with flights to North America, of course, but there is minimal demand from passengers to fly from the UK, Paris, Germany etc to Helsinki to New York unless the fares are rock bottom.

Finnair new business class A350

In a statement, Finnair’s CEO said:

Despite the massive negative financial impacts that the pandemic had on us, our cash position is still strong, c. 1.7 billion euros at the end of 2021. This includes the currently undrawn 400-million-euro hybrid loan granted by the State of Finland, which also supports our equity. The State owner has stated that Finnair is a company of strategic interest. Under these new circumstances, we as a company feel that functioning flight connections are even more important for the Finnish economy, safety and security of supply. The company is considering different solutions in case the situation prolongs, and it has an active dialogue with the State of Finland.”

Assuming my Helsinki trip goes ahead, I’ll see if we can get any further news on Friday. I am keen to try the new seat – see the pictures scattered across this article – because it doesn’t recline. It is designed to be like a big sofa chair that you can just snuggle into. Will it work? Comments in our launch article were mixed – so let’s see how it performs in practice.

Comments (63)

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  • MYL says:

    I am flying to BKK from LHR in early April, so would be interested to hear if Finnair start to cancel. The Buisness Light price was great, but comes with no refunds if I choose to cancel or change my plans. So it would be good for Finnair to force my hand and make a decision.

  • kitten says:

    Why does the third photo in the article look photoshopped? The female does not look life-sized.

    • dougzz99 says:

      It’s a 4’ 6” yoga devotee to make the seat look larger.

  • A Boi says:

    Freakin John Ollila, bless his heart, just banned me for mentioning how many more hours AY will spend on Far East routes. What even on Earth haha!..

  • MYL says:

    Anyone have their flights cancelled yet ? Mine are coming up in 5 weeks.
    So was wondering if they are cancelling ahead of time to avoid the EU261 compensation time frame.

  • MYL says:

    And the update on this is : Finnair changed the flights 31 days before we ere due to fly, and basically losing a days holiday from a 12 day trip at Easter. So non-refundable tickets were cancelled and a full refund is being processed.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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