Finnair must consider ownership options: chairman

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Finnair must be prepared for open discussion on various ownership and financing options to ensure that it is better protected against sudden changes in the market, its chairman believes.

Klaus Heinemann, speaking at the company’s annual general meeting on 27 March, stated that the board “does not want Finnair to become market driftwood”.

He says the Oneworld alliance carrier will need closer partnerships with the larger companies and, as such, should ensure that it is not relegated to being a bit-player.

Heinemann says the company must achieve a financial position sufficiently robust that it is not “immediately shattered” by changes in the operating environment.

Finnair has been trying to stabilise its finances through restructuring efforts but is struggling to push through its latest round of cost-cutting measures.

Heinemann says the airline’s profitability must be good enough to give the airline influence in any potential partnership arrangements.

He adds that there should be dialogue on Finnair’s ownership, as well as possible finance options that are consistent with the interests of the airline’s shareholders.

The carrier needs to “openly consider flexibility from the equity point of view”, Heinemann states, in order to gain partnerships and finance its aircraft investments.

Finnair is still majority-owned by the Finnish government.

“In my opinion it would be good to have open discussion about different alternatives prior to any more severe pressures arising from crisis situations in the marketplace,” says Heinemann.

But he acknowledges that discussions “will not be easy”, adding: “Any Finnair dialogue always involves so much emotions and mixed views.”