Olympics: Not good for everyone

Olympic Birdnest.jpgIt’s not all gold medals and national anthems, you know.

Some airlines are actually seeing a marked downturn in their traffic to China specifically because of the Olympic Games, which are currently being held in Beijing.

I learned this at a meeting yesterday in London with Finnair chief financial officer Lasse Heinonen and vice-president of financial communications and investor relations Taneli Hassinen.

As the Finnair guys briefed myself and my colleagues, David Kaminski-Morrow of Air Transport Intelligence and Olivier Bonnassies of Commercial Aviation Online, about the latest goings on at the Finnish carrier, we got talking about their strong focus on flights between Europe and Asia.

Here’s what Mr Heinonen had to say: “The Olympics have been bad for airlines. Visas have been very hard to obtain, so travel to and from China has been difficult.”

He added that Finnair’s second-quarter load factors between Europe and Asia were 68%, a decrease of eight percentage points compared to the same time last year, and “China played a major role” in this.

This looks like being yet another stick to beat the airlines with, alongside record high oil prices and a global economic downturn. Still, I shouldn’t think “the world’s greatest Olympian” Michael Phelps will be losing any sleep over it!

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