25.11.2014 13:23

Life after the MD-11 freighter era: Focus on growth

It has been another exciting and eventful year at Finnair Cargo. We will enter 2015 with an era of MD-11 freighters coming to an end as long-haul freighter flights will be discontinued at the end of December 2014. 

This was a difficult decision to make, and we played out quite a few scenarios internally. With that said, the final decision was clear: Finnair Cargo does not see long-haul freighter operations with an MD-11 as a sustainable solution in today’s market situation laden with elements such as overcapacity, deteriorating yields and fluctuating currencies. 

At the same time, however, Finnair Cargo’s growth strategy will start to kick in with the first batch of A350 aircraft added to the Finnair network during the final quarter of 2015. Finnair is the first European airline to receive the A350s, and the acquisition of the new long-haul aircraft will enable us to double our long-haul capacity from our Helsinki hub. By 2020, Finnair Cargo will offer belly capacity on over 140 weekly long-haul flights from Helsinki.

This long-haul belly growth brings new requirements for Finnair Cargo. We will need to develop our service to and from mainland Europe, which basically means improving our lead times between Europe and Asia, and in the other direction as well. An example of this was the opening of our Brussels hub in April 2013, which established a stronger presence in the "heart of Europe". 

At the moment Finnair Cargo is flying two weekly A340 passenger flights with an approximate cargo capacity of 20–25 tons along with two A300 freighter flights between Brussels and Helsinki. This enables Finnair Cargo to offer 2–3-day lead times on airport-to-airport service between mainland Europe and Asia. Our priority over the next year will be to build on this concept of improving short-haul wide-body feeder flights between Europe and the Helsinki hub. In 2015, we will look for new opportunities and cities in Europe to fly wide-body operations to.

The upcoming year will also introduce new destinations to our network. Finnair will fly seasonal Helsinki-Miami and Helsinki-Chicago flights that will strengthen our Atlantic operations while the JFK route continues to operate year round. 

Finnair Cargo has broad experience in Asia, specifically to Northeast Asia. We have been flying to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong for over a decade, started flying to growing cities such as Chongqing and Xi’an, and are flying to three cities in Japan, just to name a few. Doubling the amount of long-haul flights enables many options – what will come next for the Finnair network? 

All I can say is that I am looking forward to 2015!