Nothing is ‘too big’ for the UK


A new Finnair air bridge opening this October brings a timely end to cargo size constraints between London and Helsinki.

The new belly capacity to be added on the route between London Heathrow and Helsinki comes at an opportune moment with the local air cargo industry anticipating an upturn in the fourth quarter.

London—along with Helsinki and Brussels—completes Finnair’s trio of strategic European cargo hubs. In answer to rising demand on the Heathrow-Helsinki route, Finnair will begin operating three weekly frequencies with a wide-body aircraft during the winter season starting on October 25, 2015. 

The added belly capacity will supplement the existing freighter service that Finnair shares with IAG Cargo, on top of 35 weekly frequencies operated with A320 aircraft. It will also play a significant role connecting the UK with Finnair’s extensive Asian network.

Ending the year strong

The year began on an upbeat note at Heathrow with many forecasting growth of 6 percent for the UK air cargo market, but 3 percent year-on-year growth in the first quarter proved to be a short-lived affair.

“I personally expect a strong fourth quarter to bring us back up to par with the 2014 year-end level,” says John Ward, director of GSSA Development for Europe at Air Liaison. Based at East Midlands Airport, Ward leads a team of 15 sales executives across the UK and Ireland. Air Liaison has been Finnair’s Cargo GSA for the UK since 1993.

Ward sees Finnair’s comprehensive network from Helsinki as offering many advantages to UK customers, who represent a highly diverse mix of exports from pharmaceuticals and perishables to oil and energy.

Finnair’s strategic partnership with IAG Cargo creates a further win-win situation enabling both airlines to expand their network reach with minimal fixed costs. 

When size matters

Somewhat ironically—particularly in view of ferocious local competition—Finnair’s biggest challenge in the UK has been inadequate belly capacity.

“Finnair have struggled with the lack of wide-body aircraft. But this is no longer an issue thanks to the new air bridge, which is being served with an A300–600 freighter. It means an end to the cargo size constraints of the past few years,” says Ward.

Finnair’s UK customers will now be able to ship oversized cargo directly to Helsinki. The size of cargo that can be flown from the UK to the Asian network has similarly grown significantly. 

“And the fact that the cargo can now be loaded in the UK on aircraft equipment (ULDs) which are compatible with the Asian network will reduce transit times and improve service levels,” notes Ward.

Ward sees untold potential for Finnair in the UK thanks to its “fantastic” reputation as a progressive airline offering very high quality service. This goes double with Finnair recently having become the first airline globally to be awarded the IATA Pharma certification.

“Flying five times per day between the UK and Helsinki, Finnair is best placed to serve the express, pharmaceutical and mail industries. It also ensures that Finnair is able to be a leader in the perishables market,” says Ward.

Text by Silja Kudel
Photo by iStock


Published September 28, 2015

Category: Local features, Market updates