India key to Finnair’s growth in Asia

December 18th, 2008 - 1:20 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 18 (IANS) India is fast becoming the key to Finnish carrier Finnair’s growth story in Asia. The airlines has seen an overall growth of nearly 30 percent in Asia in the past two years and India figures high on the list of countries logging fast-track growth in terms of revenue and footfalls, senior Finnair officials say.

“We currently operate six flights from Delhi and four from Mumbai every week as part of the winter schedule. But from next summer, the number of flights will go up to seven from Delhi and six from Mumbai,” Christer Haglund, Finnair’s senior vice-president of corporate communications, told IANS.

“And on all our flights, even those that touch base in India from other countries in Europe, Indian passengers are a clear majority,” he added.

The Indian market, Haglund said, has been buoyant despite the global financial meltdown and the airline now has new destinations like Chennai and Bangalore on its radar. “Finnair plans to invest more in India when the economic scenario looks up,” Haglund said.

Finnair attributed the spurt in traffic to growing trade ties and technological collaborations between India and Finland. Finnish companies like Nokia and Kone Corp have set up manufacturing units in the country, with Nokia’s facility being located in Chennai.

Traffic figures released by Finnair showed the traffic in Asia has risen 17 percent last year. The report, however, did not mention India’s standalone figures.

The airline is also promoting flights to north America via Finland from India as this would save fuel.

“Long distance flights have to carry more fuel, but a stop saves energy. Aircraft bound for the US via Finland will carry less fuel as it can be refuelled in Helsinki or flights can be switched,” Haglund said.

In 2006, nearly 40,000 Indian tourists visited Finland, while the number went up to 50,000 in 2007, he said, quoting surveys.

Finnair, at the moment, is investing 700 million euros to revamp its long-haul fleet. It is phasing out its old MD11 (three-engine McDonnell Douglas) aircraft for the bigger, smarter and more fuel-efficient Airbus 330, which will also be flown to India.

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