Finnair has inked a long-term strategic partnership with Qatar Airways as it seeks to shift its business strategy away from pandemic-restricted Asia and Russia’s closed airspace.
The Helsinki-based airline will start to serve Doha with daily flights from Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen as Qatar Airways consolidates an ambitious plan to turn its home airport into a major hub for oneworld alliance airlines.
Finnair has been on the hunt for new routes and a long-term business plan ever since early 2020 when its heavily Asia-focused strategy was annihilated by COVID travel bans.
But even as more destinations in Asia start to reopen, Finnair has admitted that the closure of Russian airspace due to the war in Ukraine means its once shortest route from Europe to Asia is “no longer economically sustainable”.
Finnair has been fairly nimble throughout 2022 as it searches out new routes and revenue streams. The airline has been able to redeploy some of its underutilized short-haul aircraft to operate flights on behalf of British Airways, while it has also experimented with a new long-haul base in Stockholm.
Unfortunately, Finnair confirmed on Monday that direct flights from Stockholm Arlanda to New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Bangkok and Phuket would be discontinued this winter, while all flights to Chicago and Krabi will also be suspended.
The so-called ‘wet-lease’ deal with British Airways is also set to end in the coming months, which could put Finnair in a perilous position for the winter season.
Luckily, however, Finnair will be able to capitalise on the FIFA World Cup which is set to take place in Doha, and long-term, the airline will continue to act as a feeding airline for passengers catching onward flights with Qatar Airways.
In July, Finnair’s chief executive Topi Manner said he was preparing for Russian airspace to be closed “for a long time” and revealed that the airline was working on a “thorough strategy renewal” which should be complete by the autumn.
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.