Finnair to sell more Indian destinations through Kingfisher
Finnair, which flies daily between Helsinki and New Delhi, is looking forward to selling more Indian destinations through One World partner Kingfisher Airlines, but in the long-term wants to launch its own direct services to other metros.
With Kingfisher Airlines joining the One World airline alliance, Finnair, which started services to India in 2006, can offer its passengers onward connectivity to destinations such as Mumbai, Chennai or any other city that the Indian carrier flies to, Finnair's India sub-continent director Kari Stalbow said in New Delhi.
Under the present bilateral air services agreement between India and Finland, Finnair can operate daily services to three Indian cities. Finnair discontinued services on the Mumbai route in April 2008 due to poor demand for flights originating from Helsinki.
Much before the Icelandic ash clouds hit the airline industry and even before the 2008 global economic crisis, Finnair was looking at covering a third city in India. It can now offer those routes through One World partner Kingfisher Airlines.
Finnair can now sell other Indian destinations through Kingfisher. So, in the short-term the airline is not looking at adding new destinations. But the long-term plan is to offer direct services to more Indian cities, as part of a plan to carry traffic between India and the US, Stalbow said.
Finnair estimates that a typical Mumbai-New York flight via Helsinki would take just 17 hours and 10 minutes, while non-stop flights take 16 hours and 15 minutes to cover the 12,563 km distance. Stop-over flights usually take 20-22 hours, including stops of over two hours at intermediate airports depending on the airline. Stalbow said that while flights from India to Europe are nearly full, there was still not much demand on the return route.
However, traffic growth in May has returned to the healthy levels seen in March. In April, the European airspace was closed due to the eruption of a volcano in Iceland that spewed ash clouds. Finnair witnessed 16 per cent growth in its scheduled traffic in May 2010, compared to the year-ago period. The scheduled traffic in Asia climbed 28 per cent.
In May, passenger numbers touched 590,000, a rise of three per cent against the same period a year ago. "It's excellent that demand returned after the problems of April (when Icelandic ash clouds grounded flights for several weeks). Scheduled traffic demand and the passenger load factor are again moving in the right direction, but aircraft still have room for additional demand," Finnair Senior Vice President (Communications) Christer Haglund said in a statement.