In July, Finnair announced plans to launch long haul routes out of Stockholm, Sweden, including one route to the United States and two routes to Thailand. The airline has now announced two additional transatlantic flights from this new gateway.
Finnair’s new A350 flights from Sweden
Helsinki-based Finnair has revealed that it will operate five long haul routes from Stockholm, Sweden, in the winter 2021/2022 season. Finnair will fly from:
- Stockholm to Los Angeles from November 2, 2021, through March 23, 2022 — this route will operate 3x weekly
- Stockholm to Miami from October 23, 2021, through April 22, 2022 — this route will operate 2-4x weekly
- Stockholm to New York from December 7, 2021, through March 25, 2022 — the route will operate 3-4x weekly
- Stockholm to Bangkok from October 22, 2021, through April 22, 2022 — the route will operate 5-7x weekly
- Stockholm to Phuket — from October 24, 2021, through April 21, 2022 — the route will operate 1-3x weekly
I suspect that Finnair is banking on the US travel ban being lifted soon, or else these routes will be challenging. I can’t imagine many Americans are looking to vacation in Northern Europe in the dead of winter.
These new routes will all be operated by Airbus A350-900s, featuring a total of 336 seats. This includes 32 business class seats, 42 extra legroom economy seats, and 262 economy seats.
All five of these are destinations that Finnair also serves out of its hub in Helsinki (at least seasonally), so long haul service is being added to these destinations from another Nordic capital. The crew onboard will consist of Finnair pilots, and cabin service will be provided by Finnair’s partner, Airpro, which is a company that provides contract employees in the aviation industry.
While Finnair’s pilots have long had strong union contracts, it has been a different story with flight attendants. For example, Finnair has had several flights attendants bases in Asia, which have largely operated long haul flights.
Let’s take a look at the details of the three new routes to the United States.
Finnair’s Stockholm to Los Angeles route
Finnair’s Stockholm (ARN) to Los Angeles (LAX) flight will operate from November 2, 2021, through March 23, 2022, with the following schedule:
AY3 Stockholm to Los Angeles departing 2:15PM arriving 4:15PM
AY4 Los Angeles to Stockholm departing 8:05PM arriving 3:40PM (+1 day)
The flight covers a distance of 5,521 miles in each direction, and is blocked at 11hr westbound and 10hr35min eastbound.
Finnair’s Stockholm to Miami route
Finnair’s Stockholm (ARN) to Miami (MIA) flight will operate from October 23, 2021, through April 22, 2022, with the following schedule:
AY17 Stockholm to Miami departing 9:35AM arriving 2:10PM
AY18 Miami to Stockholm departing 4:40PM arriving 7:40AM (+1 day)
The flight covers a distance of 4,977 miles in each direction, and is blocked at 10hr35min westbound and 9hr eastbound.
Finnair’s Stockholm to New York route
Finnair’s Stockholm (ARN) to New York (JFK) flight will operate from December 7, 2021, through March 25, 2022, with the following schedule:
AY29 Stockholm to New York departing 7:35PM arriving 10:00PM
AY30 New York to Stockholm departing 8:35PM arriving 9:50AM (+1 day)
The flight covers a distance of 3,920 miles in each direction, and is blocked at 8hr25min westbound and 7hr15min eastbound. As you can see, this is one route where Finnair is clearly “swapping” planes in the United States between the Helsinki and Stockholm routes.
Is there award availability?
Finnair seems to have up two business class award seats on these flights. Some flights have no award seats, others have one award seat, and some have two award seats. However, as of now these flights aren’t showing on American Airlines’ website, but they are showing on British Airways’ website.
This would be a great use of American AAdvantage miles, as you can redeem just 57,500 miles for a one-way business class ticket between the United States and Europe. There should be no fuel surcharges for travel on Finnair.
My take on Finnair’s Stockholm expansion
This is some creative expansion on Finnair’s part, and it makes perfect sense, when you think about it. When it comes to long haul flights, Finnair’s biggest market has historically been between Europe and Asia, given Finland’s favorable geography.
More specifically, historically Finnair has operated the most long haul flights to China. Go figure that situation has changed a lot:
- It’s anyone’s guess when China will open to the rest of the world, and conversely, it’s anyone’s guess when most of the rest of the world will open to China
- China is becoming increasingly isolated, and that doesn’t exactly bode well for Finnair
- On top of that, Chinese aviation authorities have increasingly been placing limits on inbound international arrivals due to the quarantine requirement, and there’s no sign of that ending anytime soon
- Looking at Finnair’s winter schedule, several destinations in China have been cut altogether, while other destinations are seeing reduced frequencies
Understandably Finland will have to look elsewhere to fill A350s this winter. And while the airline flies to all kinds of warmer destinations, Finland is a country with only 5.5 million people, so the market is only so big. While Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is usually the “home carrier” for Sweden, in reality the airline has split operations, between Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, so there’s definitely room for some competition.
Furthermore, Norwegian used to operate long haul flights out of Stockholm, but the airline has cut all long haul flights (Norse Atlantic Airways is a new transatlantic low cost carrier that hopes to pick up where Norwegian left off).
It’s going to be fascinating to see how this strategy works out — I can see how this makes sense this winter, but is it possible that Finnair could make this work long term? Only time will tell.
Finnair is not the only European airline launching long haul flights outside of its home country — Aer Lingus is launching long haul flights out of Manchester in the coming months.
Finnair will be launching long haul flights out of Stockholm this winter, with A350 services to Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Bangkok, and Phuket. This expansion is perfectly logical, when you consider that other long haul markets have more or less dried up for the airline.
Best of luck to Finnair, and who knows, maybe this could work in the long run, and lead to a new strategy for the airline.
What do you make of Finnair’s expansion out of Sweden?