Finnair Cargo Uses Route Exchange to Open New Brussels Operation

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Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen,
Editor, Routesonline

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Finnair Cargo Uses Route Exchange to Open New Brussels Operation

Finnair Cargo, the dedicated freight business of Nordic flag carrier Finnair, is to establish a new European freight hub at Brussels Airport in Belgium and will inaugurate its first dedicated cargo services to the US city of Chicago from March 2013.  The network expansion follows a partnership during the latter months of 2012 with Routes’ Route Exchange business, part of Routesonline, where Finnair Cargo has completed an extensive airport evaluation process to open the new Continental European destination.

This partnership has led directly to the placing of the carrier’s McDonnell Douglas MD-11F aircraft at Brussels Airport and demonstrates that the Route Exchange process is both efficient and successful.  All parties involved were fully committed to the process with Mr Juha Järvinen, Managing Director of Finnair Cargo launching the Request for Proposals (RFP) during a briefing which he delivered in October last year during the World Routes forum in Abu Dhabi.

Finnair Cargo, the largest air freight carrier in the Nordic & Baltic region with annual revenue of €256 million in 2011 and annual cargo carriage of 145 million kilos, will initially operate a weekly McDonnell Douglas MD-11F service from Brussels from March 31, 2013, connecting the European capital with its main Helsinki hub, New York John F Kennedy International and Chicago O’Hare International, a new destination for the operator.  The same aircraft will also serve destinations across the Indian sub-continent and Asia as part of a weekly schedule that covers 14 sectors across five countries, including flights to Hong Kong and Mumbai.

The network expansion will support Finnair Cargo’s growing logistics business that takes advantage of the geographical position of the Finnish capital to support a strong network of air services between Asia, Europe and North America.  Alongside its dedicated freighter aircraft the business also has access to belly-hold capacity on the passenger jets of Finnair which connect numerous cities in Asia with more than 50 destinations across Europe and North America.

In summer 2013 Finnair Cargo will have capacity to Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo Narita, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Chongqing, Delhi, Bangkok, Singapore and the new destinations of Xi'an, Hanoi which are supported by the dedicated freighter links to Hong Kong and Mumbai.

This latest network growth has occurred thanks to new European legislation on traffic rights, which means European carriers are now allowed to open a second cargo hub in the Continent.  However, up until now only few have chosen to do so.  For Finnair Cargo its main hub at Helsinki provides an excellent operating base to destinations in the north of Asia, but it is geographically outside of the centre of European cargo traffic.  With the decision to open a second hub in Brussels Airport, it now has access to this market.

Finnair Cargo says it selected Brussels as its new European destination as it is one of Europe's key gateways for cargo, offering great connections to numerous locations in Europe with fast road feeder services covering the European air cargo market within easy reach in less than eight hours from the city. “Finnair Cargo's target is to become one of the top five cargo carriers between Europe and Northeast Asia, and the opening of Brussels cargo hub to strengthen our cargo service via Helsinki is an important step in this vision", said Mr Juha Järvinen, Managing Director of Finnair Cargo. 

Brussels Airport, it says, is also located in the centre of European pharmaceutical industry, which offers great expansion opportunities for the carrier.

Finnair Cargo largely specialises in the transportation of pharmaceuticals so the selection of Brussels as a Continental Europe gateway makes logical sense as it is located in the centre of Europe’s pharmaceutical industry, which offers great expansion opportunities for the carrier and opening new connection options to various regions in the world where there is a high demand for our export products within this sector.

“With Finnair Cargo we will have a European carrier at Brucargo with whom we can examine how to extend the market for the pharmaceutical and other industries in our economy that are highly dependent on importation and exportation. This opens the door to a whole range of new opportunities we wish to explore together,” said Arnaud Feist, Chief Executive Officer, The Brussels Airport Company.

Finnair Cargo started its own 'freight only' flights in May 2010 initially serving Hong Kong and Seoul Incheon.  The carrier utilises a single McDonnell Douglas MD-11 which was converted from passenger to freight configuration following its retirement from the Finnair fleet after the arrival of its new Airbus widebodies.  The aircraft has proved a popular and successful type in the cargo arena hand has a total capacity of approximately 80,000 kilos in its 500 cubic metre cabin.  This is enough space for it to hold 26 main deck pallets (max height 240cm) as well as six lower deck pallets (max height 160cm) and 7 LD6 containers.

The successful completion of this new route evaluation process is a major endorsement for the dynamic Route Exchange online platform.  “It was a pleasure to work with Juha and his team to aid their assessment and evaluation of new markets and opportunities to base their aircraft through our online product, Route Exchange,” said Declan Maguire, Business Development Manager, Route Exchange.  “We wish Finnair Cargo and Brussels Airport well with this new operation.”

The partnership between Finnair Cargo and Route Exchange has also helped to facilitate the network expansion to the US city of Chicago, which will play host to World Routes in 2014.  The addition of a weekly freight service at Chicago O’Hare International arriving from Brussels and departing to Helsinki will boost an already active freight operation at the US facility.  "This new service by Finnair Cargo will add to the significant impact that air cargo already brings to O'Hare," said Rosemarie S. Andolino, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation.  "More than 30 cargo carriers at O'Hare support thousands of jobs and contribute millions of dollars to the economy of Illinois." 

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