Finnair’s CEO, Topi Manner, has said he sees a huge demand for business class services. He also notes the importance of premium economy, and of basic services for ‘price sensitive passengers’.
Finnair’s CEO is joining the increasing list of airline high fliers who are recognising the growth in premium products. As first class starts to decline, business class is drawing the attention, and so is premium economy. Finnair are clearly not going to miss this party.
According to Blue Swan Daily, Finnair’s CEO, Topi Manner, was speaking to media on the sidelines of the IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit when he made the comments. He is quoted as saying,
“I see a lot of need for business class, not only from business and corporate travellers but also from leisure travellers who want a premium experience and who want to make the best use of their time. We also see a need for a premium economy product and for an economy class product for the more price sensitive. It is about having different value propositions for different types of customer needs”
Finnair’s business class gamble
Finnair have an exceptional business class product on board their new A350-900s. The 14 aircraft in service have either 46 or 32 business class seats. They’re laid out in a 1-2-1 arrangement, giving direct aisle access and full lie flat comfort.
However, they have received some criticism for the number of rows they’ve employed. Finnair have squeezed eight rows of business class seats on their A350, compared to Singapore who have seven, and Qatar who have six. As a review on Loyalty Lobby pointed out, “…the great Finnair seats are simply too close to each other”.
Despite this, Finnair are working hard to make the experience worthwhile. With the launch of the LA service in March, they introduced a new range of amenities, created by Finnish design house Marimekko. These include a bio plastic cornstarch toothbrush, elimination of plastic wrapping for earplugs and slippers made from recycled plastic bottles, in a nod to their environmental credentials.
Premium economy coming in 2021
From Manners’ comments, it’s clear that it’s not just business that’s becoming a focus for Finnair. HE also said, “We also see a need for a premium economy product”, and that’s something Finnair have firmly in the calendar.
From 2021, Premium Economy will be introduced to the entire long haul fleet. They are making a separate cabin for this, promising highly customised designs and more pace and comfort. Finnair have also said, in a press release, that their PE product will come with ‘and enhanced service offering’, suggesting there will be better dining options for these passengers too.
Growth and new routes at Finnair
Finnair have their sights firmly set on becoming a world leading airline. Despite being located in a somewhat remote part of Europe, they are experiencing excellent growth, carrying 1,295,300 passengers in May this year, 13% more than the same period last year, according to Aviation24.
They’ve recently added a large amount of long haul capacity, with the induction of three new A350s entering service in the past few months. These have helped them to introduce a new route to Los Angeles in March, and to increase capacity to San Francisco also. They have simultaneously added capacity in the Asian market too, extending frequencies to Hong Kong, Osaka, Nanjing and Tokyo.
Just last month, Finnair signed a codesharing deal with China Southern Airlines, as reported on Flight Global, sharing code on the Helsinki to Guangzhou route. This will enable travellers from both Europe and Asia to book flights right through to numerous other destinations both in the east and the west. A week before this was announced, they firmed up a codeshare agreement with Shanghai airline Juneyao Air.
It seems Finnair have some lofty aspirations, and are well on track to realise their ambitions. Have you flown Finnair? Tell us about your experience in the comments.