Finnair’s five-strong fleet of Airbus A350s will almost quadruple in size over the coming years as the airline modernises its amenities and on-board service across a growing number of routes for business class passengers.
Offering fully-flat beds up front with direct aisle access from every seat, the A350 now provides the “complete package” for travellers, believes Finnair’s Senior Vice President Strategy and Resource Management Ville Iho.
“It’s challenging to highlight only one way the A350 is bringing improvements to Finnair,” Iho shares with Australian Business Traveller.
Among them, however: new mood lighting technology that Finnair uses to simulate the Northern Lights during the flight, a lower effective ‘cabin altitude’ that helps you arrive feeling more refreshed and an air conditioning system that completely replaces the cabin air every three minutes.
“We’ve used the A350’s entry into service to signal that we are renewing who we are as an airline and what we offer,” Iho continues.
“When customers are considering the likelihood of using Finnair again after flying on the A350 versus the A330 and A340, the A350 gets much higher ratings from business class passengers, which is our ultimate test.”
Finnair A350s: coming to Australia?
While Finnair doesn’t fly its own aircraft to Australia, passengers Down Under can book Finnair (AY) codeshare flights to Asia with Qantas, British Airways or Cathay Pacific, before continuing their journey to Finland and beyond with Finnair.
“Even though we don’t fly (to Australia) ourselves, it’s a very important market for us and we’ve been surprisingly well-received by Australians: and the connections we are offering serve our customers well,” Iho observes.
But as to launching Australian flights with its own aircraft? “That’s not in our plans”, shares Iho. “Our niche is to fly to destinations we can serve within a 24-hour rotation.”
While a few routes are an exception to that rule, Australia would be a “huge stretch” to both those guidelines and the non-stop flying capabilities of the A350, unless detouring via Asia which passengers already do today.
However, you can expect the A350 to begin serving Finnair’s Singapore-Helsinki flights by the end of November 2016, and further destinations to be announced as the airline’s A350 fleet continues to grow.
Dining on Finnair’s A350s
Passengers who do hop aboard the A350 enjoy meals served straight to their seat, rather than from trolleys strolling the aisles, helping to replicate a restaurant feel with colourful crockery by Finnish designer Marimekko...
... and chic Ultima Thule glassware by Tapio Wirkkala, which Finnair has been using since the 1960s:
But unlike some airlines which are moving towards more formal dining options in the lounge so that travellers can maximise sleep in the air, Finnair doesn’t see that as the best option for its network.
“A huge number of our customers are connecting passengers,” Maarit Keränen, Head of Inflight Product (Food) at Finnair, explains. With Helsinki designed around quick transits of less than an hour, “they don’t necessarily have a long time for a dinner experience in the lounge.”
“We’re trying to find a good combination of lounge offering and inflight dining,” Keränen continues, but “the main dining experience is still on board.”
You’ll find Finnair’s Airbus A350s flying from Bangkok, Beijing and Hong Kong to Helsinki, with full codeshare journeys from Australia on sale via the Finnair Australia website.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Helsinki as a guest of Finnair.
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