Finnair is operating its last scheduled passenger flight with a McDonnell Douglas/Boeing MD-11 three-engined widebody on Monday, February 22. Finnair was the first airline...

Finnair is operating its last scheduled passenger flight with the McDonnell Douglas/Boeing MD-11 three-engine widebody on Monday, February 22.

On February 22, Finnair’s last MD-11 scheduled passenger flight is AY022 from Delhi to Helsinki ― a flight that appears very likely to be Finnair’s last passenger flight of any sort with the MD-11. The airline does not appear to be entertaining the possibility of its last two MD-11s remaining in passenger charter service for Finnair’s extensive charter-flight program to sunspot destinations such as Phuket in Thailand, a route on which the carrier has long operated the type. Finnair began expanding into Asia with the MD-11 at the turn of the millennium, and the aircraft type has been in the company’s service for nearly 20 years.

Finnair was the first airline to operate the MD-11, on December 20, 1990. Finnair’s removal of the MD-11 from passenger service leaves KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and the U.S. carrier World Airways as the only remaining operators of the MD-11 in passenger configuration.

To date Finnair’s MD-11 fleet has accumulated 400,000 flying hours and more than 50,000 landings. Overall, Finnair’s MD-11s have carried around 14 million passengers.

“In 1990 Finnair introduced the MD-11 on a flight from Helsinki to Las Palmas, becoming the first airline in the world to operate the aircraft. In its time the aircraft, which is excellent in terms of its performance, represented state-of-the-art technology,” says Rabbe-Holger Wrede, Finnair’s MD-11 fleet chief.

Finnair was the first airline in the world to operate the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 trijet, on December 20, 1990 ― and it is one of the last to operate the type in passenger service, with the airline making its last scheduled passenger flight with the type on February 22, 2010. This flight may well be Finnair's last passenger service of any sort with the MD-11, the airline saying its two owned MD-11s are for sale or potentially for in-house use as cargo aircraft after freighter conversion

“Over the years Finnair has been one of the pioneers in the use of the best modern technology and now it’s the right time to move on to new, more environmentally friendly aircraft,” adds Christer Haglund, Finnair’s SVP communications. “Our long-haul fleet now consists of Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft. In 2014 our fleet will be further supplemented by totally new Airbus A350 aircraft.”

The fact that Finnair’s long-haul fleet now consists only of A340-300s and A330-300s harmonizes its long-haul fleet with the airline’s European fleet. This mainly consists of Airbus A320-family single-aisle jets, which share a common cockpit configuration with the Airbus widebody models. Finnair says the fleet modernisation has significantly improved both profitability and environmental efficiency, with the new A330 long-haul aircraft consuming 20 per cent less fuel per passenger than the MD-11 they replace.

Finnair now has one of the most modern fleets of any network carrier in the world. The average age of Finnair’s aircraft is under six years.

A deal having fallen through to sell its last two, owned MD-11s to Aeroflot Cargo for the Russian carrier to operate them after freighter conversion, Finnair has put the two MD-11s up for sale. However, the airline is also studying the possibility of continuing to use them for cargo operations. The freighter-converted MD-11 is known as an excellent cargo aircraft and almost all of the 200 MD-11s built have now been converted to freighters.

Some 185 MD-11s were in service as of July 2009 but it is possible several more will return from storage to re-enter the freighter fleet when the air cargo market  turns up sufficiently.