By Vanni Gibertini
Finnair Set to Launch Long-Haul Services From Stockholm Arlanda
Although in recent times bilateral agreements have become largely less restrictive, there have been relatively few attempts on behalf of legacy carriers to take advantage of market opportunities outside their traditional home market. That is why the latest announcement coming from Finnair is a breath of fresh air in the aviation market, bringing a glimmer of hope in a generally bleak situation still heavily stifled by pandemic restrictions.
The Finnish flag carrier has announced that it will set up a new base at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport and will launch three brand-new long-haul services to Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand and to Miami in the U.S.
There have not been many examples of attempts to set up long-haul so-called “seventh freedom flights” outside the development of some low-cost carriers like Norwegian that developed a flurry of long-haul services across Europe to North America and Asia, with transatlantic flights from Dublin, London Gatwick, Stockholm and Rome.
When the European Union and the U.S. agreed on a horizontal open skies agreement in 2007, allowing European and American carriers to serve any route from any airport in the E.U. to any airport in the U.S., some analysts thought this new liberalized framework would encourage some carrier to compete in the most lucrative transatlantic markets outside of their own turf, but apart from a short-lived attempt by Air France to establish a connection between London Heathrow and Los Angeles, most legacy carriers stuck to their own home bases.
Finnair will commence a five-weekly service to Bangkok on Oct. 22, with flights increasing to daily by the end of November throughout the winter and until April 22, 2022. This will be supplemented by a weekly service on Sundays to the resort destination of Phuket, Thailand as of Oc. 24, increasing to twice a week as of the end of November.
Flights to Miami will begin on Oct. 23 with an initial frequency of two services per week, that will increase to four services a week as of Nov. 29.
All flights will be operated with Airbus A350 aircraft.
There are currently no flights from Arlanda to both Thailand or the United States: SAS used to fly to Miami but the service was discontinued in March 2021, while flights by both Thai Airways International and the low-cost Norwegian to Bangkok were stopped in March 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finnair seems to be ready to fill the void in the market left by the demise of Norwegian’s long-haul ambitions and to challenge its competitor SAS on home turf. Thailand is indeed one of the most popular leisure destinations from Sweden and it was served also by integrated tour operator Tuifly that was flying its own metal to Phuket during the winter in recent years.
Finnair is a oneworld alliance member, and its flights to Miami will be able to provide their passengers countless connecting possibilities with their oneworld partner American Airlines that operates 341 daily flights at the largest Florida airport, offering more than 130 non-stop destinations in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.