Finnair deploys all-new fleet as traffic to India spurts

March 21st, 2010 - 12:09 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 21 (IANS) Nordic carrier Finnair has deployed an all-new fleet to India even as its passenger load factor on the Helsinki-New Delhi route has seen a major spurt this year after the turbulent past season due to the global slowdown.
“The average age of aircraft deployed to India is just four months,” said Kari Stolbow, Finnair’s director for South Asia, underscoring how India has emerged as a major destination and growth centre for the 87-year-old carrier.

“The oldest aircraft in the fleet is also just 11 months,” Stolbow told IANS.

According to the senior Finnair executive, the Helsinki-based airline was now encouraged to look at restoring its service to Mumbai, apart from looking at some additional cities such as Chennai and Bangalore.

“We saw a passenger load factor of 91 percent in January and 84 percent in February. These are encouraging signs for us. Our strategy of keeping the fares competitive, despite the difficult year that 2009 was, seems to have paid off,” said Stolbow.

“In March we were pleasantly surprised when we found a passenger load factor as high as 97 percent during the first 15 days,” Stolbow said. “So the first logical step would be to make the Helksinki-Delhi service a seven-day operation.”

Finnair currently flies six days a week to and out of the capital. While there is no service from Helsinki to the national capital on Mondays, there is no flight out of here on Tuesdays.

Stolbow said another strategy that has worked for Finnair and was also liked by passengers was to change the flying schedule from evenings to mornings.

“Our departure time is now best suited for the Indian traveller - 8.35 a.m. our aircraft leaves New Delhi. So you can have breakfast in Delhi, lunch at Helsinki and tea in New York,” he said.

Flying out of Helsinki is also a delight as the airport is spread over 39,000 square metres, with the new terminal equipped with a luxurious spa, well-being services and a modern, well-appointed lounge.

The Nordic carrier is also looking at tapping the potential rise in passenger traffic to Helsinkin from Chennai and Bangalore to Helsinki.

Several Finish companies like mobile phone maker Nokia and the crane and elevator giant Kone have major expansion plans in India, even as Indian IT and software giants like Infosys, Tata Consultancy and Wipro have set up bases in Finland.

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