Finnair starts maiden cargo service to IndiaSeptember 16th, 2011 - 7:48 pm ICT by IANS
Helsinki, Sep 16 (IANS) In a bid to cash in on the fast growing freighter services demand between India and Europe, Nordic carrier Finnair’s cargo subsidiary Friday started its maiden flight from Helsinki to Mumbai.
“We had planned to start the cargo services to Mumbai because we see a very vast potential in this sector on this route between Helsinki and Mumbai. These are very initial stages, but we are very optimistic,” Mika Vehvilainen, chief executive of Finnair, told IANS here.
According to Vehvilainen, cargo traffic between India and Europe could see an exponential rise with Helsinki being the transit point to other countries in Euro zone.
“Capacity is very important and this (service) will provide at least bare minimum capacity in the sector. There is not only potential for cargo traffic from point to point but also the trans-European traffic as well,” said Vehvilainen.
Finnair is eyeing cargo services to gain leadership position among airlines in the Nordic region. The new cargo service is being started in cooperation between Finnair and Nordic Global Airlines, which is a new all-cargo airline based in Helsinki, in which Finnair Cargo is a minority shareholder.
The Helsinki-Mumbai service would be operated once a week on a Boeing MD-11F aircraft.
Currently, Finnair Cargo provides freighter service to and from Frankfurt, Hong Kong, New York, Seoul and Shanghai.
“This (service) is in line with Finnair Cargo’s vision to be number one in the Nordic countries. According to our plans, we would cater to growing demand for cargo from India to North America, which will be again via Helsinki,” the carrier’s senior vice president Antero J. Lahtinen said.
On the passenger traffic front the airline said that its cooperation with its Indian partner Kingfisher Airlines was growing and that it was not averse to the idea of Vijay Mallya-led carrier to operate flights to Helsinki.
“I cannot rule out Kingfisher connecting Helsinki with some of the major Indian cities. But it is up to them,” Vehvilainen said adding: “I would love to see our partnership develop further.”
His reference was to the recent agreement with Kingfisher that enabled the carrier to add seven more Indian destinations to its network in India by quick transfers for passengers from the Indian carrier to Finnair’s own direct flights between New Delhi and Helsinki.
“We are already doing a lot of code-sharing and this will only grow,” he said. The accord covers Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Jaipur and Ahmedabad, and allows the passengers to also redeem points on any of the two carriers.
When asked about the company’s plans to re-start its Mumbai passenger services, Vehvilainen said: “The key to starting new services is demand and sustainability of the route. Right now we do not feel either for any other route other than New Delhi.”
(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com)
–Indo-Asian News service
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