It may seem extraordinary, for an airline focusing on its Asia destinations as much as Finnair does, with diverse routes from Tokyo to Hong Kong and all across Japan and China, but London Heathrow is actually its busiest destination.
The route is so busy it has for some time, had at least one A359 a day operate in addition to A321 services. From March 31st – two days after Brexit is supposed to happen – and the start of the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere for airline timetables, the airline is adding an additional A320 service. On top of that the 18.10 service will be upgraded from an A321 to an A330-300. During the summer season there will now be up to 7 daily flights to Helsinki from Heathrow.
The reason for the key A359 and A330 services is to ensure that business customers get to fly in a full business class environment from the moment they encounter Finnair at Heathrow. It’s almost a full 3 hour flight from London to Helsinki with approximately 1hr 30 mins transfer time to onward Asia flights. Growing interest in its routes to LAX and San Francisco have further spurred growth from London.
One of the reasons for this is that passengers only have to pay Airport Departure Tax on the Heathrow-Helsinki flight, which is considerably cheaper than on a full business flight – by some £300 – US$400.
For passengers the airline sees it as a key upgrade and improvement in value for money offering – which is what has driven sales so effectively.
Finnair now has 12 of 19 ordered A350-900’s in service, with the newest batch changing the interior layout. A359’s OH-LWA, B, C, D, E, F, G & H have a 46 business class layout in one 32 seat forward cabin and a slightly smaller 14 seat cabin behind it. Total seating is 297.
OH-LWI, K, L & M and subsequent aircraft have the 32 seat business class cabin, but do away with the rear section, which is transferred to economy comfort seating, a sort of halfway house to premium economy with extra leg room. Total seating is raised to 336.
Finnair is likely to be the second airline to complete its deliveries of A350’s after China Airlines, and has agreed with Airbus an accelerated delivery schedule.