This summer Finnair will open three new air services to prominent and historic regional centres on the Volga River in the Russian Federation through its joint venture regional business Flybe Nordic. The flights to Nizhny Novgorod, Samara and Kazan will begin in July and August and will be flown using Embraer E190 equipment on a three times weekly basis.
Finnair already has strong links into Russia, an important trading partner for the Nordic country, and offers a double daily link to St Petersburg, nine weekly flights to Moscow Sheremetyevo and four times weekly to Yekaterinburg. Through its oneworld partner, S7 Airlines, it also offers codeshare connections to Moscow Domodedovo and onward to Kazan, Novosibirsk, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Ufa and Yekaterinburg.
The new flight between Helsinki and Nizhny Novgorod International Airport will commence from July 25, 2014, while Samara’s Kurumoch International Airport will be served from the Finnish capital from August 7, 2014 and the Kazan International Airport flight will follow from August 18, 2014. Alongside the point-to-point demand these overnight flights will enable good connections options to and from various European destinations, while increasing the utilisation of the Flybe Nordic fleet.
“The Russian Federation is Finland’s largest trading partner outside the EU, and Finland is viewed by many in Russia as a favourable place to conduct business or take a holiday,” said Allister Paterson, chief commercial officer, Finnair.
Nizhny Novgorod, with 1.2 million inhabitants, is a growing IT hub and the administrative centre of the Volga Federal District. Kazan, population 1.1 million, is the multi-ethnic capital of the Republic of Tatarstan and the world’s centre of Tatar Muslim culture. Samara, also with population of 1.1 million, is an industrial hub of southern Russia noted for its aerospace industries and Samara State Aerospace University.
“Our new routes and frequencies will help meet demand for outbound Russian travel not only to Finland, but to other destinations throughout Finnair’s European network thanks to our compact and efficient hub in Helsinki. We also hope these new routes prompt Finns and other Europeans to discover three historic cities on the Volga, each growing in commercial importance.”
Air links to these three Russian cities from Western Europe are currently limited, according to official data from OAG Schedules Analyser for August 2014. Lufthansa provides the only link to Nizhny Novgorod with a regular service from Frankfurt, while it also serves Samara from its German hub. The monthly schedules show Transaero Airlines will also link Samara to Barcelona, while Ural Airlines will link the Russian city with Rimini and Venice.
Kazan is the best connected of the three airports during August 2015 but mainly supporting the strong leisure demand in and out of Turkey with Onur Air offering flights to Antalya and Turkish Airlines to Istanbul. Transaero Airlines and Vueling Airlines will also offer links to Barcelona, while Transaero also fly to Larnaca in Cyprus.
The feed from its wider network at Helsinki Airport will be key to the succcess of these three new routes for Finnair. In our analysis, below, we highlight annual bi-directional O&D demand to the Russian destinations from across the European market over the past ten years.