Tuesday 22 October 2019, 11:21 PM
Finnair sees India as key market for tourism, transit
By IANS | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 6/7/2012 12:00:00 AM
Finnair sees India as key market for tourism, transit

Helsinki :  Nordic carrier Finnair sees India as a strategic market not just for in-bound tourism into Finland, but to also serve as a convenient hub for transit to other European nations and North America, says its chief executive Mika Vehvilainen.

But the carrier, which flies to New Delhi for the moment, has no immediate plans to look at other Indian cities nor re-introduce passenger operations to Mumbai from which it has cargo operations, the chief executive added. "India offers a lot of potential.

It is a growing market and an important market for us. But the aviation market there faces lot of competition," Vehvilainen told IANS, on the margins of Finnair s annual global press meet here. "In fact, the Asian economy is growing very fast and we are very keen to grow with the Asian economy.

Our team has also spotted 10-12 destinations there. But for the moment, we don t have any expansion plans. We want to consolidate," he said. According to Gregory P. Kaldahl, senior vice president for resource management, the fast economic growth in Asia is driving the market for Finnair s Asia-Europe traffic. In fact Asia, led by India and China, accounts for nearly half of the carrier s traffic.

"India is a growing market, but it is unstable. We are not sure when we would be able to expand. It can happen next year. We know we have to grow with the Indian economy -- it s a billion-people country. We need to serve their needs properly," Kaldahl told IANS.

Not new to India, with chartered flights to Goa for nearly three decades, Finnair flies six times a week to New Delhi. It suspended services to Mumbai a few years ago, but is keen on Chennai and Bangalore - thanks to some 100 Finnish firms having bases there.

Yet, it is also upbeat on attracting Indian tourists to Finland -- also called the land of saunas, lakes, raindeer and Santa Claus. To show how important the Indian market it, it has deployed the most modern fleet for New Delhi, with aircraft around a year-old.

The Nordic carrier was hoping Vijay Mallya-led Kingfisher Airlines would become a member of OneWorld, a leading pact among 12 global carriers, including Finnair, by this year to offer greater synergies. But the Indian carrier is facing tough times itself. "We had a partnership with Kingfisher Airlines, but now they are facing difficulties. It has made the current state full of challenges.

But we have future plans for India as it is an important market for us," Vehvilainen said. Finnair, nevertheless, wants to cash in on the potential the strategic location of its hub at Helsinki offers. As the crow flies, the shortest flights to North America from India is via Helsinki that can be covered in 15:30 hours with a 30-minute stopover. "Our passenger numbers are expected to double by 2015.

The overall market between Europe and Asia is growing at around 10 percent annually. In April, our passenger traffic to Asia was up 13.6 percent. So there is great potential," Kaldahl said.

 

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Finnair sees India as key market for tourism, transit

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