Oneworld alliance member Finnair is to introduce its first Sharklet-equipped Airbus A321s into its fleet this winter and will use the aircraft to increase the frequency of its flights between Helsinki and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as well as to replace its older Boeing 757-200s on leisure routes to the Mediterranean, the Middle East and North Africa.
Finnair was the first airline in the world to commit to the Sharklet on the A321, the largest member of the A320 Family, and placed a tentative order for five aircraft in June 2010. The first of these aircraft will arrive in the third quarter of this year and by the end of 2013 are expected to be introduced on eight international routes, commencing from October.
The type will make its scheduled debut on Finnair’s four times weekly link to Dubai on October 4, 2013, according to latest schedule data, and will facilitate the introduction of a fifth weekly rotation from December 22, 2013. The carrier also operates a weekly charter flight to Dubai, which will mean it will offer flights to the Gulf metropolis daily, except Saturdays from late December.
Alongside the Dubai route, the latest GDS inventory from Finnair shows it plans to introduce the Sharklet A321s on routes from Helsinki to Las Palmas (from October 27, 2013); Hurghada (October 29, 2013); Sharm el Sheikh (November 2, 2013); Goa, via Sharjah (December 12, 2013); Tenerife North (December 25, 2013); Tenerife South (December 26, 2013); Funchal (January 20, 2014); Marsa Alam (January 23, 2014) and Fuerteventura (January 26, 2014).
The selection of the Sharklet A321 is part of the extensive fleet harmonisation study by Finnair to bring new cost efficiencies to its operations, maximising economies of scale and using cross crew qualification and mixed fleet flying to bring cost savings to the business. The increased efficiency of the A321 with Sharklets will offer Finnair around a four per cent fuel saving on these planned routes compared to the 757-200s they will replace.
Alongside the arrival of these new A321s, Finnair has confirmed it will use its existing fleet to expand its winter schedule with the continuation of its summer flight between Helsinki and Tel Aviv. This seasonal flight will continue to operate through the winter season on a twice weekly basis but with a modified schedule to enhance connection opportunities.
"Tel Aviv flights have been very well received, so we want to offer them on winter season as well, but with better connections to Asia and back. We are able to offer a competitive alternative to Finns, as well as to the Asian and Israeli transit passengers", said Greg Kaldahl, Senior Vice President, Resource Management, Finnair.
As part of its previously highlighted fleet harmonisation programme, Finnair has also confirmed it has agreed to lease three of its Embraer 170s to Latin American carrier Aeromexico Connect. The first of these aircraft, which was previously leased out to Honeywell, will be delivered this month, but the two additional aircraft will not follow until June 2014 when their existing leases with Kenya Airways expire. All three aircraft will operate for the Mexican carrier under six year lease agreements.