Finnair has reached a long-term lease agreement with Australian flag carrier Qantas for two of its Airbus A330 aircraft, which are otherwise surplus to the Helsinki-based airline’s requirements.
The embattled airline said on Friday that the first of two A330s would join the Qantas fleet in October, while the second is currently expected to be deployed on the Qantas network in early 2024.
The long-term agreement will see the Finnair-branded planes fly for Qantas on flights from Sydney to Singapore and Bangkok until at least mid-2027 – a sign of just how much the fortunes of the two Oneworld member airlines have diverged as pandemic-era travel restrictions have been lifted.
While Finnair has been slammed by the closure of Russian airspace and is struggling to deploy its A330s due to range limitations, Qantas has found itself in the enviable position of trying to add back more capacity than it has aircraft for.
Qantas has currently reached 84% of pre-pandemic capacity and hopes to reach 100% capacity by March 2024. Despite the anticipated return of an additional Qantas Airbus A380 from the desert later this year, plus deliveries of brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliners, Qantas still anticipates a capacity crunch without Finnair’s help.
For the first two years of the deal, Finnair will wetlease the aircraft to Qantas, meaning that it will provide pilots, cabin crew, maintenance and insurance in addition to the actual airframes.
Finnair pilots who are based in Helsinki will position out on Finnair-operated flights to Bangkok and Singapore to start their flying duties with Qantas, while Finnair already has cabin crew bases in both cities.
Both A330s feature Finnair’s revolutionary non-reclining AirLounge Business Class seat, which the airline describes as a ‘flexible living space’. Despite its lack of recline, passengers and frequent flyers have given the seat rave reviews, although there are some accessibility issues for less abled passengers.
From late 2025, the two A330s will be dryleased to Qantas, meaning that Qantas will provide the pilots and cabin crew necessary to operate them. Qantas say the deal will run for up to three years from 2025.
Finnair has been forced to redraw its long-term business strategy following the closure of Russian airspace, which removed its geographical upper hand on operating flights between Europe and Asia.
The beleaguered carrier has pursued deals with Oneworld partner airlines, including British Airways, where it is wet leasing some Airbus A320 aircraft over the summer, and Qatar Airways, which has signed up Finnair to operate flights between the Nordics and Doha.
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.