Founded in 1923, Finnair is the world’s sixth oldest Airline still flying today. It began operations on March 20, 1924, flying a Junkers F.13 floatplane from Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia. Following World War II, the Finnish government wanted greater connectivity to the rest of the world and procured a majority stake in the airline. In 1947 the airline, previously known as Aero O/Y, rebranded to become Finnair and commenced services to European capitals using Douglas DC-3 aircraft.
In 1961 Finnair joined the jet age when it added Rolls-Royce Avon-engined Caravelles to its fleet. By the end of the decade, Finnair wanted to expand and bought its first American-made jet, a Douglas DC-8. With its new long-haul jet, Finnair inaugurated its first transatlantic service from Helsinki to New York on May 15, 1969. By the 1980s, the carrier was well established and had opened up new routes with flights to Los Angeles and Seattle.
Finnair non-stop to Japan
In 1981, Finnair started flying nonstop to Japan. Using a modified Douglas DC-10-30ER, Finnair flew over the North Pole to Tokyo. Because of Soviet Union air space restrictions, previous flights from Europe to Japan operated via Moscow or Anchorage in Alaska.
This gave Finnair a competitive advantage until the Soviet authorities granted Air France and JAL permission to use Soviet airspace for flights between Paris and Tokyo in 1986. Two years later, the carrier started to offer nonstop flights between Europe and China.
Consistently listed as one of the safest airlines globally, Finnair joined the oneworld airline alliance in 2001 and flies to over 100 European, 20 Asian, and seven North American destinations.
Ever looking towards the future, Finnair received its first of 19 Airbus A350 XWBs, thus becoming the first European airline to offer what is fast becoming a passenger favorite.
Now having got a little of Finnair’s history out of the way, let’s take a look at the airline’s current fleet is in 2021 and where it is headed in the future.
According to the aviation data and statistics website ch-aviation, Finnair has a fleet of 83 aircraft made up of the following planes:
- 6 x Airbus A319-100s
- 10 x Airbus A320-200s
- 19 x Airbus A321-200s
- 8 x Airbus A330-300s
- 16 x Airbus A350-900s
- 12 x ATR72-500s
The narrowbodies are getting old
First of all, looking at Finnair’s fleet, we can see that except for the ATR72-500s and the Brazillian-built Embraer 190s, they are primarily an all-Airbus airline. Age-wise, the Airbus A350s are relatively young, with an average age of 4.1 years, and with a further three still to be delivered, the A350 will be the backbone of its long-haul fleet.
Finnair’s short and medium-haul fleet is a different kettle of fish altogether. The A319s and the A320s are all over 19 years old. Meanwhile, the E-190s have an average age of 10 years.
With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting all airlines hard in the pocket, Finnair deferred its delivery of the three A350s by two years to help save cash. With that in mind, they may well continue to maintain their existing fleet of narrowbody aircraft until demand returns, and the airline makes a profit.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.
Finnair is betting on China
We can see where Finnair is hoping its long-haul fleet will work by launching flights from Stockholm and its new codeshare agreement with China’s Shanghai-based Juneyao Air. From Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport (ARN), Finnair plans to fly to Miami in the USA and to Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand.
Regarding the codeshare with Juneyao Air, Finnair is betting on China being one of the first places to recover and hopes that Chinese passengers will fly to Helsinki and take advantage of Finnair’s European network.
In the opposite direction, Shanghai is the world’s largest container port and home to 27 million people. Juneyao Air is rapidly expanding its domestic presence in China, which will open up new destinations for European business travelers.
As we can see, Finnair has a young long-haul fleet but an aging narrowbody fleet of planes. How do you see them replacing the A319’s and A320s? neos or perhaps the Airbus A220-300? Please tell us what you think in the comments.