Finnair and Flybe are about to sign a deal that will see the UK low-cost regional carrier take on a third of the Finnish carrier’s European flying from October 2012.
The deal will also see Flybe flying all 12 of Finnair‘s Embraer 190 aircraft on their behalf on these European routes.
Flybe and Finnair have already worked together in the past, forming domestic carrier Flybe Nordic out of the remains of FinnComm airlines. This deal will further bolster their relationship, helping Finnair to reduce its costs and debts, and Flybe to increase its European coverage – an ambition it has never been shy about discussing.
Finnair will also be retiring a number of Embraer 170 and Airbus A320 aircraft in a further bid to reduce costs, and will use this new partnership as an opportunity to retrain European pilots on their long-haul Airbus A330/A340 fleets for the blossoming Asian network.
Whether we’ll see aircraft repainted into Flybe colours for the partnership is not known. Details of which routes are to be flown are also unknown at this time.
Flybe Nordic has now started operations from its Helsinki base and has its sights set on dominating the regional market in the Finnish and Baltic market.
It is initially starting 24 routes, two of which will be from the smaller base at Tallinn in Estonia. These routes cover the domestic network in Finland, and routes to Sweden, Norway and Poland (as well as Estonia). More routes are due to be added in December.
The airline has taken over Finncomm Airlines. I believe their existing fleet of ATR aircraft will still be used initially, but ultimately Flybe’s DHC-8-400 aircraft will be taking over.
It will be interesting to see how aggressively they expand and pursue other routes in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, and whether this will have a knock-on effect on other airlines in the area. It will also be interesting to see what effect it has on Helsinki and Tallinn airports in terms of movements and passenger numbers, and whether it has a big impact on Finnair, who have involvement with the airline.
Helsinki’s historic Malmi Airport is under threat. The local authorities want to close the airport to build a new residential area.
The airport is wonderfully preserved and has its original pre-war terminal in place. It is currently Finland’s second-busiest airport, although movements are general aviation.
People are being urged to sign an online petition to save the airport. You can read more about it and sign the petition on this page http://www.pelastamalmi.org/en/index.html