|Asian demand fuelling Finnair’s growth in the former Yugoslavia|
Finland’s national carrier Finnair will put a greater emphasis on the former Yugoslav market in the coming year as the airline expands its seasonal flights to the region, which are being fuelled by demand from Asia. The carrier currently operates flights from Helsinki to Ljubljana, Dubrovnik and Split. Next year it will launch two weekly seasonal flights to Pula and increase frequencies on its existing routes, adding two weekly services to Split, for a total of four flights per week, and an additional flight to Ljubljana for a total of five per week. The airline is satisfied with its performance on the Croatian and Slovenian markets but also says it is “carefully following” potential destinations such as Belgrade.
Finnair’s spokesperson, Mark Bosworth, tells EX-YU Aviation News, “The Croatian market serves as a great destination for Finnair customers from Northern Europe and Asia. We have also seen increasing numbers of passengers from Croatia using Finnair on their trips. Demand for Croatian destinations has been growing year by year and we have increased our flights to the area consequently”. Finnair’s Ljubljana service has also proven popular with travellers from Asia, with the Finnish carrier handling some 30.000 passengers on the seasonal route last year. “Ljubljana is developing well and we hope that some day it will be feasible to operate there year round”, Mr Bosworth says, adding, “We actively follow many markets where we could either increase frequencies or make them year round operations”.
Next month Finnair is due to become the first European airline to receive Airbus's new A350 long-range jet, which entered service this year with Qatar Airways. It will start operating the long-haul plane on its Shanghai route in October and is set to receive four A350 jets this year. Finnair, which has carved out a niche with direct flights to Asia, says future expansion in the former Yugoslavia is highly influenced by demand from the Far East. “For the time being, the demand from our Asian units has been to Croatian coastal areas. However, when Asian tour operators create more products for the former Yugoslav area we want to be their first choice of airline and then it will be very important to have multiple entry and exit points including Belgrade. At the same time we are following carefully the corporate travel market development to and from the area, because those traveling for work are one of our focus groups”, Mr Bosworth concludes. Finnair flies between Asia, Europe and North America with an emphasis on fast connections via Helsinki, carrying more than nine million passengers annually and connecting fifteen cities in Asia with more than sixty destinations in Europe. It is part of the Oneworld airline alliance.