Finnair, Qatar Airways Join Forces For Asia Traffic

Finnair is adding Doha services where its passengers can transfer to Qatar Airways' Asia-bound flights.

Credit: Rob Finlayson

Finnair and Qatar Airways have decided to work closely together on improving connections from Scandinavia to Asia via Doha (DOH). 

As part of the agreement, Finnair will introduce daily Airbus A330 services from Helsinki (HEL), Stockholm (ARN) and Copenhagen (CPH) to Doha, linking the markets with connecting flights on Qatar Airways.

Finnair has been particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of Russian airspace following the invasion of Ukraine. The airline had made Europe-to-Asia connections a strategic priority for many years, taking advantage of the geographic location of its Helsinki hub. But with the slow opening of many Asia markets in the pandemic, Finnair has not been able to recover its long-haul capacity to the same extent as other European airlines. Avoiding Russian airspace has made it unviable to serve many former Asian markets.

The Qatar Airways alliance is part of a broader strategy renewal that Finnair CEO Topi Manner announced several months ago, details of which are to be revealed in the fall. The airline has launched new services to Dallas and Seattle in an effort to deploy more of its long-haul capacity on North Atlantic routes. Finnair is also wet-leasing three Airbus A350-900s to Eurowings Discover, Lufthansa Group’s new long-haul leisure carrier. 

Finnair has a widebody fleet of 17 A350-900s and eight A330-300s. The new deal with Qatar Airways will provide decent utilization for three of the eight A330s. Finnair recorded a €84 million operating loss on sales of €550 million in the second quarter of 2022.

Qatar Airways and Finnair said they will share passenger and cargo capacity in the services and are also considering expanding cooperation to include further European markets. Codesharing will be introduced on routes beyond Helsinki and into Scandinavia and beyond Doha on around 100 destinations in the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

The two airlines are both members of the oneworld alliance.