Finnair makes moves to re-open China passenger routes

The Chinese government has given permission for one flight per week from Helsinki to Shanghai - but it's an important step for Finnair's Asia-focused business strategy.

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File picture of Shanghai skyline / Credit: iStock

Finnair is set to take the first steps in re-opening its lucrative China passenger routes after getting permission from Chinese authorities to start operations on a small scale.

For the time being the Finnish national carrier will only be allowed to fly one service per week between Helsinki and Shanghai starting from 23rd July, with the airline planning to use an Airbus A350.

While Finland has in theory opened its borders for work-related travel from China, in practice at EU level there is still a coronavirus-related travel ban in place. The Finnish government currently advises against all but essential travel to China; while Chinese authorities have prohibited almost all entries of foreigners so it’s not entirely clear who the passengers might be when the Finnair Shanghai flight resumes.

“The re-opening of our Shanghai route is great news for our customers and an important step for us, as China continues to play a key role in Finnair’s strategy” says Ole Orvér, Finnair’s Chief Commercial Officer in a statement.

“We look forward to increasing our service to the Chinese market soonest” he adds.

While Finnair is currently operating some domestic flights, and routes to 24 European airports from Helsinki, getting some of the Asia services up and running again will have been a top priority within the company. Finnair has built its growth strategy around using Helsinki as a hub for passengers to and from Asia.

During the coronavirus crisis Finnair was forced to slash its flight schedule by more than 90%, keeping only a skeleton route map in operation. However some flights to Asia were turned from passenger services into cargo routes instead.

The airline plans to slowly increase the number of flights it offers during July and August, and is currently operating between 80 and 90 services per day.