Saturday on, Finnair expands India services

June 6th, 2008 - 5:08 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 6 (IANS) With flights to India driving its growth, Nordic carrier Finnair is adding one more flight to India Saturday as it awaits permission from the government to add more destinations, in addition to Mumbai and Delhi. “We currently operate seven flights a week to Delhi from Helsinki and five more to Mumbai. From this week, we are adding one more flight to Mumbai,” said Taina Tornstrom, the director for Indian subcontinent for the airline.

The carrier has also stopped operating on Tuesdays from Mumbai and will instead add Saturdays and Sundays to tap the weekend traffic out of India to Europe and beyond.

“We also want to add more destinations and hope we get the permission after the next aviation pact with India,” Tornstrom told IANS, adding, Finnair’s Asian passenger traffic grew over 30 percent last year, thanks to India operations.

She said the market potential in Indian was promising, as some 70 Finish firms like Nokia and industrial cranes major Kone had a major presence in the country. Likewise, Indian software giants like Infosys, Sasken and Wipro also had their bases in Finland.

Bangalore and Chennai are two cities Finnair is eyeing closely, even as it has begun to tap the growing Indian traffic to Europe and North America from India, with Helsinki as the base.

The Finnair official said the visas issued to Indians by the Finnish embassy in India had also increased from 40,000 in 2006 to around 60,000 in 2007 to reflect the growing interest in Finland here.

“We have Santa. We have lakes. We have saunas. We have the reindeer. We have northern lights. The interest is really growing.”

Finnair officials said their carrier offered the shortest possible links between Europe and India, and with improved connectivity, its services between India and the US, too, has been upgraded in terms of time.

“We offer the second-fastest connection between Mumbai and New York. It just takes 17 hours,” Tornstrom said. The Air India flights between the two destinations, the shortest currently, take around 15:30 hours.

Even though the Finnish national carrier started its scheduled services to India in October 2006, it has been operating to India for more than two decades with chartered operations to Goa.

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