Finnair will soon start operating flights on behalf of British Airways out of Heathrow Airport because Russian airspace sanctions have forced the Helsinki-based carrier to ground more of its planes than anticipated even as pandemic-era travel restrictions are lifted.
The airline will ‘wet lease’ four of its aircraft to British Airways over the summer months starting in May. A wet-lease agreement is one in which an airline leases both the aircraft and crew. The alternative to a wet lease is a dry lease in which an airline only provides the aircraft but not the crew.
The announcement was made on the same day that Finnair laid out its winter 2022/2023 plans following the decision by Russia to ban the airline from its airspace. Finnair has built its long haul network on the back of its ability to shorten flight times between Europe and Asia by using Russian airspace. The airspace ban has the potential to have a big impact on Finnair’s business model.
Finnair will now only fly to 10 Asian destinations this winter, while the airline hopes to serve 60 European routes, along with a slew of in the United States and India.
This isn’t the first wet-lease agreement Finnair has penned after making an agreement with Eurowings Discover to provide long haul aircraft and crew for the Lufthansa subsidiary. That agreement is more unusual given the fact that Lufthansa is part of the rival Star Alliance.
In contrast, both Finnair and British Airways are members of the Oneworld alliance.
British Airways says it needs Finnair to help out with some of the European flights because aircraft that were sent into storage during the pandemic still require maintenance work and this will take some months to complete. The airline has, however, been struggling to recruit staff to meet its operational needs for what is expected to be an exceptionally busy summer.
Due to some of the challenges facing BA, it has already trimmed its schedule through to the end of May and has made a wet-lease agreement with Iberia Express for short-haul services out of Gatwick Airport.
British Airways has been slated in recent weeks over its treatment of passengers as demand surges back.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.