Ramping up our network
As the world begins to ease lockdown restrictions, Finnair has been working hard to develop a new look and post-coronavirus network. After reducing operations from our usual capacity in April, we start flying again to key destinations from 1 July.
(Last updated 3 August 2020)
“In July, we start ramping up destinations for us here in Finland,” explains Aaron McGarvey, manager of traffic analysis in Finnair’s traffic planning team. From 1 July onwards, Finnair operates flights to some 40 destinations in Europe, Asia and America. According to McGarvey and his colleague Patrik Nyqvist, manager of short-term planning in the traffic planning team, these will be lower frequency than regular service, yet still offer connectivity for both leisure travellers and those flying for business. Transfers at Helsinki for longer flights to Asia are expected to be straightforward as usual.
Below are the Finnair's connections planned* in August and September.
Destinations in Finland
In September, Finnair will re-open additional routes to Tampere.
Destinations in Europe
- Crete (Chania and Heraklion)
In September, Finnair will open more routes to Antalya, Dubrovnik, Krakow, Madeira, Palma, Prague, Reykjavik, Split and Stuttgart.
Destinations in Asia
Those looking to travel further east will be able to choose from several weekly services to Japan as well as services to other key destinations in Asia (Beijing and Shanghai are still subject to government approvals as we’re writing this).
- Hong Kong
- Tokyo (Narita)
In September, Finnair will operate routes to Nagoya and Osaka as well.
Destinations in the United States
- No flights scheduled in August and September
In total, Finnair’s service levels rose to approximately 20% of normal capacity in July, up from 5% in the April-June period.
*Please note that the destinations listed are subject to change. You can check the flight schedules and book here.
Making use of smaller aircraft
These long haul routes will be served by Finnair’s Airbus A350 aircraft, while smaller, narrow body planes will be used across Europe. “At Finnair we have a very versatile fleet and that gives us an advantage,” explains Nyqvist. “It allows us to deploy smaller aircraft, so we can start ramping up slowly.”
With 70-100 seater aircraft being used initially, more capacity can be added by simply using planes with more seats, rather than starting additional services.
“We’re starting with the smaller aircraft on the shorter routes, so we have a lot of flexibility to increase seat capacity with larger planes where necessary,” adds Nyqvist. “Of course, we do have capabilities to add more flights if needed.”
The key challenge, says McGarvey, is working out how many customers will be using these new routes. With the majority of planes grounded since early April, the usual methods of developing a network based on demand have had to be adjusted, providing a new challenge for the traffic planning team.
“The traditional tools we use have become redundant,” he says. “We need to look at new ways of identifying trends. How do we juggle our fleet best?”
“We cannot rely on the normal forecasting systems as much as we would normally,” agrees Nyqvist. “So we need to rely on the trends we spot rather than being able to utilize optimization tools.
“People’s booking behaviour is very different, so we have to be working in a completely new mode.” Both Nyqvist and McGarvey expect leisure travellers as well as business customers in the medium to long term.
Such challenges will be dealt with during regular reviews, once the new Finnair traffic program launches in July. This will allow McGarvey, Nyqvist and their teams to tweak services accordingly depending on demand, as well as address any issues that arise once services are up and running.
“First of all, we will keep track of the travel restrictions that governments are imposing and adjusting accordingly,” says Nyqvist. This is vital as restrictions are being removed and some may be reinstated in different countries at varying times. “If the demand comes quicker than we anticipate, though, then we do have means to deal with that,” he adds.
The challenge of building a post coronavirus network has, however, had some positive effects. The new routes will be optimized for sustainability, an increasingly important part of Finnair’s business.
“We’re parking our older aircraft and trying to utilize our newer, more fuel efficient planes,” says McGarvey. This reimagining of fleet usage means using newer Airbus A320 family aircraft. Wherever possible, Finnair will be using planes with a lower carbon footprint than older aircraft. The fact that smaller planes are being used also means that customers can fly knowing that their environmental impact is smaller too. Finnair’s commitment to sustainability and response to the ongoing climate crisis does not stop because of coronavirus.
The main thing that Nyqvist and McGarvey emphasise is that the new routes will be consistent and stable when they launch in July.
“When we publish the traffic program, we will not be playing around with it too much. That means we can build confidence with customers and show them that the product we are promising them isn’t going to change all of a sudden,” says Nyqvist. As the world inches back towards normality, Finnair’s program gives a clear signpost of what to expect from safe and efficient travel in the future.