Over the past fifteen years, Finnair has been steadily, but surely, building a niche as the European airline that provides the most efficient link between Europe and Asia via its hub in Helsinki.
In 2000, Finnair served just three destinations in Asia. Now, it serves 15 destinations. Finnair also serves a number of cities without direct links to London including Chongqing and Xi’an in China and Nagoya and Osaka in Japan.
Unfortunately, this has yet to translate into long term profitability for the airline. On Friday, Finnair joined the list of European airlines to issue a profit warning.
However, the airline is committed to its strategy and aims to double revenues from Asia by 2020. This week, Finnair revealed the interiors for its new Airbus A350 aircraft which will replace its quad-engine Airbus A340 aircraft and ply routes from Helsinki to Asia from mid 2015.
The airline has 11 firm orders for Airbus A350 aircraft, and a further 8 options.
The aircraft will initially be deployed on flights to Shanghai, Bangkok and Beijing in 2015. Hong Kong and Singapore will be served by the A350 in 2016.
In business class, Finnair has opted for the Zodiac Cirrus III seat which American Airlines (Boeing 777-300 flights only), Air France and Cathay Pacific have also adopted.
This seat provides both a fully flat bed and direct aisle access for all passengers, which is increasingly becoming standard for business class cabins. Finnair’s seat will also include touchscreen in flight entertainment and AC and USB power sockets. There will be a total of 46 seats in the cabin.
Finnair has decided not to follow Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines in introducing a premium economy cabin. It seems the rationale is that Finnair does not consider there to be sufficient demand for a price premium that a traditional premium economy cabin would command. Instead, Finnair will offer an “economy comfort” cabin which will feature no less than 43 economy seats with a 35″ seat pitch, a more comfortable headrest and better headphones. (It will be interesting to see how unsold economy comfort seats are allocated to members of Oneworld frequent flyer programmes).
In economy, the seats will be in a 3-3-3 configuration with a 31″ seat pitch. All seats in economy include an 11″ touch screen inflight entertainment system and USB power outlets.
Passengers in all cabins will benefit from in flight WiFi and a dynamic ambient LED lighting which Finnair assures will adjust according to the time of day, route and season.
The new cabin certainly looks bright and impressive and the business class cabin will certainly be one of the most competitive amongst European airlines.
There is no indication from Finnair that the new cabins will be retrofitted onto its existing fleet of Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft which do not feature the above cabins.