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Finnair modernisation to take fleet to 100 aircraft

Finnair is aiming to increase its fleet to more than 100 aircraft under a six-year development plan which will focus on achieving a sustainable, profitable growth path.

It is aiming to increase its short-haul fleet from 61 aircraft – comprising 37 Airbus single-aisle jets and 24 regional aircraft – to around 70 by 2025.

Finnair will also expand its long-haul fleet from 22 aircraft to about 30. It operates eight Airbus A330-300s and 14 A350-900s.

Chief executive Topi Manner, during a 12 November briefing, said the carrier was embarking on a new phase of development, amounting to a "notable shift" from its previous accelerated growth.

"We've been delivering on growth and the balance sheet," he says. "We still have an opportunity to improve our profitability."

Manner says the airline is to "double down" on its strategy of serving European-Asian routes via Helsinki, by focusing on increasing frequencies to major high-yield Asian cities rather than adding new destinations.

Chief commercial officer Ole Orver says the airline needs both additional long-haul and short-haul aircraft to ensure sufficient connectivity, particularly given that the carrier is building up a fourth connection bank to increase flexibility at Helsinki.

He says the airline will have some 20 additional aircraft by 2025. It will concentrate initially on renewing the older single-aisle fleet, but will need more widebodies as well.

"I have a plan where to allocate each and every one of those [extra] aircraft," says Orver. "I have a backup plan for each widebody as well. We think our plan's solid."

Chief financial officer Mika Stirkkinen says the airline is looking at a total planned fleet investment of €3.5-4 billion over the six years. He says this will depend on availability of delivery slots and other factors.

The airline already has €850 million in committed investment, he adds, the bulk of which relates to outstanding deliveries of five A350-900s due to arrive over 2020-22.

Topi Manner says the airline is preparing to make its fleet-investment decisions, with around one-third being put into growth and the other two-thirds into renewal and replacement. This investment will be predominantly financed by operating cash-flow.

Finnair is aiming for an average hike of 3-5% in capacity annually over the new development phase. Manner describes the carrier as a "big, small airline", adding: "Big enough to do things, small enough to get them implemented."

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