On March 20, Finnair commemorates the 90th anniversary of the airline’s first commercial flight.
Finnair’s service history began when, on March 20, 1924, a Junkers F13 D-335 seaplane transported 162 kilograms of mail from Katajanokka in Helsinki over the Baltic Sea to Tallinn in Estonia.
The founding documents of the company, then known as Aero Oy, had been signed on November 1, 1923.
Nine decades after its first flight, Finnair operates 43 aircraft to more than 60 destinations around the world, employing nearly six thousand people.
Last year, the airline transported 9.3 million passengers, a number which represents 60 per cent of all the passengers who passed through Helsinki Airport in 2013. Air travel plays a central role in Finnish business and the national economy, directly and indirectly employing over 120,000 people in Finland.
Ninety years after its first commercial flight, the world’s sixth-oldest airline still in operation is still selling tickets on its very first route. Today, Finnair offers six daily round-trips on weekdays between Helsinki and Tallinn, though the route is actually operated by franchise partner Flybe Nordic using ATR 72 turboprops.
In an ATR 72, the Helsinki-Tallinn flight is in the air for only 20 to 25 minutes. The block time allocated for the route is only about 40 minutes.
“Our operations have expanded substantially since our modest beginnings,” says Ville Iho, Finnair’s chief operating officer. “Over time, we have also increased cooperation with partners such as Flybe. Finnair has become a network airline known to all Finns, with operations recognized as world-class.”
According to Flightstats.com, Finnair was the world’s most punctual airline in four different months last year, and overall in 2013 it operated the world’s second-most punctual airline network.
Finnair’s recent milestones include the launch of new routes to Xi’an and Hanoi; engaging in design cooperation with Marimekko; introducing renewed in-flight dining options in Business Class; moving to new and environmentally friendly offices; and becoming the first airline in the world to take delivery of Sharklet-equipped Airbus A321 jets.
Later this year Finnair is set to enter a joint business arrangement on Europe-Japan routes with fellow oneworld alliance partners British Airways and Japan Airlines. It is also continuing to retrofit its widebody fleet with flat-bed seats in Business Class.
In 2015 Finnair will become the first European airline to operate the new Airbus A350 XWB widebody jet.
The Finnish Airline Pilots’ Association and the Finnish Aviation Museum have organized a joint celebration to mark the 90th anniversary of Finnair’s maiden flight. The event will take place at 12:00 noon on March 20 at Matruusinpuisto park in Helsinki’s Katajanokka district. The event is open to all aviation enthusiasts.
Weather permitting, the event will also feature a visit by a seaplane.