Ryanair wants to start operating from Helsinki airport, and thinks Finnair might help it gain a foothold by agreeing a deal to operate as a ‘feeder’ airline for the Finnish flag carrier’s long-haul routes. At the same time the Irish budget airline is shutting down operations from Lappeenranta and cutting flights from Tampere.
"Ryanair’s quite willing to co-operate with Finnair," said Ryanair’s Commercial Director David O’Brien. "Finnair has very limited feed for it’s long-haul services into Asia, and Ryanair would be quite happy as part of some sort of growth plan for Finland (to step in)."
Talks are ongoing between Ryanair and the Finnish airport operator Finavia over opening a route between Helsinki and London Stansted. For now, those talks have not progressed, but the idea is that Finnair would be attracted by the idea of having more access to its many long-haul routes from Helsinki to Asia.
The two sides remain, however, far apart on the question of airport fees.
Cuts in provinces
"We’re in that similar discussion with several airlines across Europe, from Aer Lingus in Dublin, to TAP in Portugal, and several airlines across Europe," said O’Brien.
Meanwhile the low-cost operator is cutting flights elsewhere in Finland. Operations at Lappeenranta, on the Russian border, are set to shut down completely. Tampere will see services cut from seven destinations to just two from next summer.
That’s partly due to the isolation of Finland, as planes can do two runs within Europe in the time it takes to go from the western edge to the far eastern border in Finland. The profit-conscious Ryanair will re-allocate the planes from Finland to more profitable routes.
"You do have a geographical disadvantage when compared to demand from other countries such as Germany, Hungary and so on," said O’Brien.