Finnair has announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership agreement with Qatar Airways. As part of this partnership, Finnair will launch flights to Doha from Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen. The airlines are also looking to launch new services between another European destination and Doha, Qatar.
All-in on Doha
From November and December of 2022, Finnair will operate the following routes to Doha, Qatar:
- Helsinki-Doha: 7-weekly flights
- Stockholm-Doha: 7-weekly flights
- Copenhagen-Doha: 7-weekly flights
All of these flights will be operated by Finnair’s Airbus A330 aircraft featuring the airline’s new long-haul cabins, including the no-recline Business class and upgraded Premium Economy class.
As part of this long-term strategic agreement, Finnair and Qatar Airways will codeshare on these routes, and the airlines will share passenger and cargo capacity. Passengers will be able to connect to around 100 destinations across Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Africa and more via Doha.
We are delighted to expand our collaboration with our oneworld partner Qatar Airways, offering new connections between Doha and the three Nordic capitals. The role of Doha as an international hub is growing, and Qatar Airways has extensive connections from Doha onwards to for example Australasia, the Middle East and Africa.said Topi Manner, CEO of Finnair.
As a fellow oneworld member, we enjoy a close relationship with Finnair and these new services to Hamad International Airport are an example of Qatar Airways working with partners for the benefit of our joint customers. This strategic partnership demonstrates our commitment to the Nordic markets and strengthens our position as the leading Middle East carrier in this important region. This partnership will be the foundation for the future expansion here. Soon, Doha will be the oneworld hub bringing more airline partners together than ever before. With this codeshare agreement, travellers from the Nordics will continue to have excellent connectivity to Doha with Finnair and onwards with Qatar Airways to attractive leisure and key business destinations across Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Middle East.said Akbar Al Baker, Group Chief Executive, Qatar Airways.
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Constantly evolving network
Finnair has been going through a tough time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Prior to the pandemic, Finnair was mainly dependent on Asia for its long-haul network with markets like China and Japan being some of the largest markets for the airline.
China and Japan have been more or less closed since the start of the pandemic. There are no signs of China opening to the world in the near future while Japan is slowly opening up. On top of the pandemic, Russia’s airspace has been closed, making it hard for Finnair to operate more services to Japan, given that the airline has to take a longer route avoiding the Russian airspace.
Because of all this, Finnair has had to constantly rework on its strategy and network. This included opening up a base at Stockholm with flights to the United States and Thailand. And the airline has also put an increased focus on its Indian network. On 6th August 2022, the airline launched nonstop flights between Helsinki and Mumbai for the first time in 13 years.
The launch of Doha services with multiple daily flights from Scandinavian countries seems to also be a part of the reworked strategy. Both, Finnair and Qatar Airways, say that they are also “exploring opening services between another European destination and Doha”. Could this be Oslo? It all remains to be seen.
It also remains to be seen for how long these services remain active, given that Chinese and Japanese markets will open up sometime in the future.
Finnair drops long-haul flights from Stockholm
As part of the same evolved strategy that I talked about before, Finnair launched long-haul flights from Stockholm. This was before the Russian airspace closed and was simply because of the closure of most Asian markets to visitors.
The carrier launched flights to New York, Miami and Los Angeles in the United States and Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand. In addition, the airline will also discontinue its flights between Helsinki and Chicago as of the start of winter season.
All of these routes will be suspended at the start of the winter season which starts in late October 2022.
It looks like Finnair is seeing more opportunity in operating flights to Doha in partnership with Qatar Airways than continuing with transatlantic and Thailand flights from Stockholm, which are point-to-point leisure routes.
The main advantage in operating flights to Doha will be that Finnair can get connecting traffic via Doha, acting as a feeder airline to Qatar Airways.
Featured image by Airplane Pictures
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