Finnair has affirmed its commitment to the Chinese market amid “immensely challenging times” with the signing of a letter of intent with Shanghai’s Juneyao Air.

The airlines plan to establish a joint venture on the Helsinki-Shanghai route, on which the two carriers have already been codesharing since last June. This, Finnair says, will give its passengers a wider choice of destination, schedule and fare options via the two airlines’ main hubs, Helsinki airport and Shanghai Pudong International.

Ole Orver, chief commercial officer at Finnair, says in a press release: “Despite these immensely challenging times for our industry, we at Finnair remain steadfast in our belief and commitment to China as a key market and to Juneyao Air as a key partner.”

He adds: “Over the last year we have built up a close and mutually beneficial partnership with Juneyao Air. Taking the important step to evolve this into a deeper cooperation focused on our Shanghai and Helsinki hubs will allow us to not only serve our current customers even better, but also to lay a platform for further growth in the future, once the aviation market starts to normalise”.

Finnair says the joint venture cooperation will “enable significant further expansion of codesharing across the networks of both partners, particularly to key points [beyond] Shanghai Pudong and Helsinki, as well as the introduction of enhanced benefits for frequent travellers”.

Juneyao Air launched its route from Shanghai to Helsinki in July 2019, and since then both Finnair and Juneyao Air have been codesharing on each other´s Helsinki-Shanghai routes and on selected routes from Helsinki to Europe and from Shanghai to other destinations in China, Finnair adds.

A reciprocal agreement for Finnair Plus and Juneyao Air Club members was also implemented in August 2019, allowing customers to earn and redeem miles and points throughout each partner’s entire network.

Cirium fleets data shows that as of today, the in-service fleet represents just over 38% of the global inventory.