Tag Archives: Finnair

Finland now welcomes travellers from several countries; Finnair serves over 30 destinations in July

Finnair has made this announcement:

As of July 13, 2020, Finland will open its borders for all travel from e.g. Australia, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Slovakia and Switzerland, and allows work-related travel from China, Japan and Thailand as of July 13, 2020. Travellers from these countries can thus enter Finland without quarantine requirements. Finland opened its borders already in June for travel from Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania and Norway.

In line with opening borders, Finnair is increasing its traffic in July, flying 70-80 one-way flights a day to domestic, European and Asian destinations. In July, Finnair serves some 30 destinations in Europe, and flies to Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong in Asia. The number of destinations and frequencies will increase towards the autumn.

Finnair has the capability to increase flights rapidly, when travel restrictions are removed and demand recovers.

In July-August Finnair serves the following destinations:

Destinations in Finland 

  • Kuopio
  • Mariehamn
  • Oulu
  • Rovaniemi
  • Turku
  • Vaasa
  • Ivalo (from August)
  • Kittilä (from August)

Destinations in Europe 

  • Amsterdam
  • Berlin
  • Brussels
  • Budapest
  • Copenhagen
  • Düsseldorf
  • Frankfurt
  • Geneva
  • Gothenburg
  • Hamburg
  • London
  • Málaga
  • Manchester
  • Munich
  • Oslo
  • Paris
  • Prague
  • Riga
  • Stockholm
  • Tallinn
  • Vienna
  • Vilnius
  • Zurich

In August, Finnair will open more routes to Alanya, Antalya, Bergen, Crete (Chania and Heraklion), Dublin, Dubrovnik, Edinburgh, Milan, Palma, Rhodes, Rome, Split, Saint Petersburg and Warsaw.

Destinations in Asia 

  • Hong Kong
  • Seoul
  • Tokyo (Narita)

The Shanghai route is still subject to government approvals.

Changes in destinations are possible based on possible travel restrictions.

Finnair aircraft photo gallery:

Finnair aircraft slide show:

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Finnair announces re-opening of Helsinki Schengen lounge, onboard service changes and launch of passenger “Clean Kit” as part of ongoing ramp-up measures

Finnair has made this announcement:

During the spring, Finnair has made numerous changes to its services at the airport to support the health of customers and employees at the airport and onboard. As air traffic gradually recovers, Finnair will increase its service by opening the Finnair Lounge in the Schengen area and expanding the in-flight catering service.

“Travelling can feel different than before, with changes in services and new types of procedures in place, such as the mandatory use of a mask on our flights. However, we are delighted to be able to bring back familiar elements of our valued customer service while still taking good care of the hygiene and safety of our customers and staff,” says Karim Al-Soufi, Vice President of Customer Experience at Finnair.

Finnair Lounge opens its doors on the Schengen area

Finnair Lounge at Helsinki Airport’s Schengen area opens to customers as of July 1, 2020. The lounge is open from 6 am until 10 am and from 2 pm until 8 pm with a limited selection of Food and Beverages. The lounge services will be operated with reduced capacity and extra cleaning to support high hygiene standards.   Also customers who are going on a non-Schengen flight and are eligible for lounge access may use the lounge in the Schengen area. Finnair’s lounges on the airport’s non-Schengen area will remain closed.

In-flight service will expand in July-August

In July-August, in Finland and on the shortest routes in Europe, such as Stockholm’s Arlanda, we serve coffee and tea, juice and water in economy class. On longer European flights we serve also biscuit or a sandwich, depending on the length of the route. On long-haul flights, our service returns closer to normal in both economy and business classes. However, the range of special meals and alcoholic beverages is still limited.

New “Clean Kit” for customers 

In addition to stepped up cleaning measures and regular disinfections onboard aircraft, for added reassurance, Finnair will launch a new “Clean Kit” that will be distributed to all passengers from the beginning of July. The kit contains hand sanitiser, surface wipes, an information leaflet and is packaged within an envelope that acts as a waste container.

The kit has a special sustainable focus and features artwork by Finnish artist Reeta Ek. The paper product has been sourced using sustainable Finnish forestry fibres and the hand sanitiser has been supplied by Kyrö distillery, who is perhaps best known for their award-winning gin. Kyrö pivoted to providing hand sanitiser to the healthcare industry when the pandemic first started.

The wearing of masks by all passengers and crew will continue to be mandatory throughout the entire journey (except when dining). Passengers are asked to prepare enough masks for their journey though a limited supply is available onboard if required in exceptional circumstances. In line with the focus on sustainability, these masks have been sourced and manufactured within Finland.

Temporary reduction in the size of hand luggage 

Finnair temporarily changes the permitted size of hand luggage. The new dimensions of hand luggage are 55x40x23cm (old dimension 56x45x25cm). Economy class tickets includes one hand luggage and a small personal item with dimensions of 40x30x15cm. The total weight of hand luggage and personal belongings may not exceed 8 kg. Business class tickets includes two hand luggage and one personal item, such as a handbag, with a total weight of up to 10 kg.

Finnair seeks additional funding to stay in the air, maintaining the fleet

From Reuters:

“Finnair launched a share sale on Wednesday to raise 500 million euros ($568 million) from its existing investors, almost as much as its current market value as it seeks to strengthen its finances to cope with the coronavirus crisis.

Finnair, which is 55.8% state-owned, has said it was losing about 2 million euros a day as 90% of its flights were grounded, and has warned it could take two to three years for air traffic to recover to 2019 levels.”

Meanwhile Finnair is taking care of its fleet at Helsinki:

From Finnair:

PARKED BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: MAINTAINING FINNAIR’S FLEET WHILE GROUNDED

With Finnair’s capacity cut by 90 per cent due to coronavirus, aircraft that would usually be flying routes across Europe, Asia and North America have had to be grounded. But parking an airplane isn’t like leaving a car on the drive. It requires extensive maintenance, not to mention lots of space.

Joe Minihane

PARKED UP IN HELSINKI

“Alongside our natural Helsinki hub we have established capability to park aircraft also in Rovaniemi and Tampere,” explains Jukka Glader, Finnair’s VP of Ground Operations. Currently, though, only Helsinki is being used, with no plans to use airports other than those at Rovaniemi and Tampere.

“In practice, it is much easier to ground all at the Helsinki hub,” says Glader. “All grounded aircraft need applicable minimum servicing.”

This servicing is vital for ensuring that aircraft are fit to fly when they are called back into service, hopefully sooner rather than later.

“From the technical point of view there are a whole lot of actions that must be done – especially, when the aircraft are parked in “flight-ready” condition,” says Glader. “This means that the aircraft and its systems are maintained and tested regularly even if all the sensitive systems and components like engines and air data probes, such as those for speed and altitude, are covered and protected.”

REGULAR CHECK UPS

Finnair’s Airbus fleet requires separate checks every seven, 14 and 30 days. Seven day checks are the most basic, with a visual once over of the airplane and all of its protective equipment. The 14 day check is more involved. Aircraft batteries are reconnected and the main electrical systems energized. This is followed by various system tests on things like flight controls and wheel brakes.

The 30 day check requires maintenance staff to carry out much more extensive work. All external protections are removed and the engines are started. Air conditioning, anti–ice systems, on the wings and in the engine, are all inspected to ensure there are no problems. Once this is done, the airplane is placed back into parking status.

“This cycle will continue – we hope – for a maximum of up to three months,” says Glader.

“Aircraft parking employs our staff more than expected,” he adds. “Even if the aircraft is parked it is essential to follow the technical instructions and recommendations of the aircraft and engine manufacturers.”

The good news is that, with all of this maintenance, getting Finnair planes back into the air, when the time is right, will not take long.

“We have roughly estimated that preparation of one aircraft into flight condition will take one whole day,” says Glader, although it could be even faster.

CORONA CHOCKS

One of the biggest challenges in parking the majority of Finnair’s fleet has been ensuring the brakes are still in good shape.

“When an aircraft is parked for a longer period of time the parking brakes will fade even if they are set on. For most aircraft types this will happen within 24 hours,” says Glader. Usually, that means placing four chocks behind each set of wheels on an aircraft. But these are not normal times. Between 10 and 12 chocks are now required for each plane. And with so many parked up outside in Helsinki, there simply weren’t enough to go around. Step forward local carpenters in the Finnish capital.

“No one wants to see the 150-ton aircraft rolling on its own on the tarmac!” says Glader.

“This is where Finnair Engineering jumped in and proposed the manufacturing of temporary wooden chocks – “Corona Chocks”. A local carpentry shop was contacted and no less than 500 wooden chocks were custom made for Finnair within two weeks of the order being placed.”

It’s another case of people pulling together in a time of crisis. But hopefully it won’t be too long before Finnair’s planes are back where they belong: up in the sky, taking customers all over the world.

Finnair aircraft photo gallery:

Finnair to seek additional layoffs

Finnair has begun discussions with its employees on possible additional layoffs.

Between April and June, Finnair is flying only 5 percent of its normal traffic and has thus already temporarily laid off its personnel.

Finnair will gradually add frequencies and routes back to its network starting from July. In July, Finnair aims to operate approximately 30% of its normal amount of flights. Finnair will review its schedule on a monthly basis and will update it as travel restrictions are removed and demand starts to recover. It estimates to fly approximately 70 percent of its normal capacity at the end of this year.

From July 1, 2020, Finnair will be flying to some 40 destinations in Europe and Asia.

As Finnair is not able to operate a full traffic program immediately due to the coronavirus situation, there is less work available for the personnel.  As Finnair has previously indicated, the need to adjust personnel resources to the situation continues at least for 2020. For this reason, Finnair will now start discussions with its personnel on additional layoffs.

The co-operations process concerns all of the approximately 6100 Finnair employees in Finland. The discussions will start on May 25. Finnair estimates that if realized, the layoffs could be temporary for fixed period of time or until further notice based on resource needs. Similar measures are planned for Finnair employees outside Finland based on the local legislation.

Finnair aircraft photo gallery:

Finnair adds frequencies and routes to its network, with long-haul routes beginning in July

Finnair Airbus A321-231 WL OH-LZH (msn 5803) ZRH (Andi Hiltl). Image: 950083.

Finnair has made this announcement:

From July, Finnair will gradually add frequencies and routes back to its network. Finnair will review its schedule on a monthly basis and will update it as travel restrictions are removed and demand starts to recover.

”We expect aviation to recover gradually, starting in July”, says Finnair Chief Commercial Officer Ole Orvér. ”Our intention is to operate approximately 30% of our normal amount of flights in July, and we will also start long-haul flights to our key Asian destinations. We will then add routes and frequencies month by month as demand recovers.”

Finnair will flexibly add flights as demand develops. The flight schedule will also take into account the changes in travel restrictions in different countries.

Long-haul operations start from Asia

Finnair’s long-haul operations will commence in phases from July, with strong focus on Asia, which is strategically important for Finnair. Finnair will fly to Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai in Greater China (subject to government approval); to Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo Narita in Japan; and to Singapore, Seoul and Bangkok. Long-haul operations are supported by the cargo demand. In August, Finnair will start flights to Delhi and to New York, and in November to Tokyo Haneda airport. Finnair also has flights to Miami, Krabi and Phuket during the winter holiday season.

European operations serve key cities

On European routes, Finnair will first focus on key centres, and will in July fly to Berlin, Brussels, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Gothenburg, Geneva, Hamburg, London, Malaga, Manchester,  Moscow, Munich, Oslo, Paris, Prague, Riga, Tallinn, Stockholm, St Petersburg, Vilnius, Vienna and Zürich. In August Finnair will start flights to Barcelona, Milan, Madrid, Rome and Warsaw. During the summer holiday season Finnair will also operate individual flights to some of the holiday destinations in Southern Europe.

Domestic flying maintains key air connections

In July, Finnair will operate six domestic routes in Finland, flying to Kuopio, Mariehamn, Oulu, Rovaniemi, Turku and Vaasa. In August Finnair will start flying to Ivalo and Kittilä in the Finnish Lapland, and in September operations start to Kuusamo and Tampere. Finnair will not operate to Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Kajaani, Kemi or Kokkola during summer 2020. Decisions for these five destinations for winter 2020/2021 will be made later on, when there is more visibility to how the demand develops.

Flexibility for customers

Since March, Finnair has offered its customers extraordinary flexibility to change travel dates, and this continues. Customers can change their travel dates for all flights bought from Finnair’s own channels between 1 April and 30 June 2020 flexibly and travel within the ticket validity.

As Finnair publishes its flying schedule from July 2020 to end of March 2021, it is also cancelling those flights that will not be operating. Finnair will handle flight cancellations in phases, and customers will be contacted by the end of June about any cancelled flights they were booked onto.

A list of routes that Finnair will not operate during summer 2020 and winter 2020/2021 at all is available on Finnair’s Travel updates page.

Top Copyright Photo: Finnair Airbus A321-231 WL OH-LZH (msn 5803) ZRH (Andi Hiltl). Image: 950083.

Finnair aircraft photo gallery:

Finnair adds cargo capacity by removing seats from two Airbus A330 wide-body aircraft

Finnair has modified two Airbus A330 aircraft for cargo use by removing economy class seats from the cabin. This way the freight can be carried in the cabin in addition to the cargo hold.

With these changes, the cargo capacity of the aircraft up to doubles. The free cabin space will be used mainly for shipping supplies needed in the coronavirus pandemic.

In normal times, about half of the world’s freight is carried in passenger aircraft. Passenger traffic has recently dropped dramatically due to the Covid 19 pandemic, which has decreased the availability of cargo. As the global logistic network has become less accessible, there’s now increasing demand for urgent cargo shipments.

The Airbus A330 cabin is especially well suited for carrying lighter freight, as the loading happens through the regular doors. The cargo is secured in the cabin with cargo nets. About half of the existing capacity of the wide-body aircraft is already reserved for cargo below the cabin.

Finnair’s technical operations implemented the A330 modifications and removed the seats in fewer than two days. As the demand for passenger traffic increases, the planes can also be returned to passenger operations quickly.

In April and May, Finnair has been flying cargo to the large cities in China, Japan and Korea, as well as Tallinn and Brussels in Europe. Last week Finnair also started cargo flights to New York and Bangkok. Finnair is currently operating more than 50 one way cargo flights a week.

Finnair introduces new measures on board and at the airport to protect the health of its customers

 

Finnair has made this announcement:

Air travel will gradually start to recover as travel restrictions are lifted. To make flying as safe as possible, Finnair is preparing for gradually growing passenger numbers with several new measures.

“Now that air travel gradually begins to recover and passenger numbers start to grow, we want everyone to be able to fly with confidence”, says Piia Karhu, SVP, Customer Experience at Finnair. “With these additional measures, we are supporting the health of our customers and employees at the airport and onboard.”

Finnair has already earlier this spring implemented several changes to protect the health of customers and employees. The service process and in-flight service have been amended, customers are seated as far away from each other onboard as possible, there are plastic shields at service points and aircraft cleaning has been further intensified. Customer service personnel follow a no-touch policy with customers’ travel documents and baggage.

The most visible change to customers now is the requirement wear a mask for the entire duration of the flight. This measure is in effect from May 18 to at least until the end of August.

“Customers will board the flight with their own mask and wear it throughout the flight,” Piia Karhu tells. “Also, Finnair’s customer facing staff at the airport as well as the cabin crew will wear surgical masks. We decided to introduce this measure because the usage of masks is becoming more widespread and they protect passengers from possible droplet infections. When everyone wears a mask, we’re able to protect each other.”

“We recommend that customers acquire a mask that fits them already before their flight, pack as little as possible and check in online or with a mobile app – all of these reduce waiting times and contacts at the airport”, Piia Karhu continues. “I’m confident everyone also understands that they won’t be able to board a flight if there is the slightest suspicion of a Covid-19 infection or if they have respiratory symptoms.”

In addition, Finnair will implement several changes in its processes.  We have taken into account the regulations and instructions by authorities as well as general developments in the industry. They will take effect latest on May 18:

  • Customers are asked to maintain a minimum social distance of 1 meter at the airport
  • All Finnair customer facing staff at the airport will wear a mask
  • Onboard, customers are seated apart from each other whenever possible; seating arrangements are reviewed by our staff at the gate before boarding
  • Customers will board the aircraft starting from those seated at the rear of the cabin
  • In bus transportation, max 50% of the capacity of the bus is used
  • Finnair cabin crew will wear surgical masks during the flight
  • All customers are required to wear a mask from boarding to leaving the aircraft.
    • Customers are asked to bring their own masks that cover both nose and mouth.
    • Children under the age of 7 are not required to wear a mask.
    • Other exemptions from the mask rule are subject to prior clearance from Finnair Medical desk.
  • Aircraft cleaning has further been intensified, with a special focus on high-touch areas
  • Sanitising wipes are available for customers onboard.
  • An adjusted in-flight service concept will help to decrease contact between customers and cabin crew.
  • Customers are asked to travel light to minimise the amount of hand-baggage in the cabin and avoid unnecessary movement in the cabin.
  • Disembarkation will happen from front to rear by groups.

Finnair will review these measures on a regular basis and update them as needed. Finavia, the Finnish airport operator, has also introduced new measures at Finnish airports. Customer facing employees at the airports will wear surgical masks, floor stickers mark social distancing rules at airports, customer service points are equipped with plastic shields and hand sanitiser is available in various locations.

According to medical experts, an aircraft is not a particularly risky environment to get an infection due to the highly efficient air conditioning and filters that keep the air very clean.

As you’re planning your travel, it’s a good idea to find out about possible restrictions and guidance at your destination. Many countries require people to wear a mask at airports or public transport, so travellers should make sure they have enough masks for the entire duration of the trip. It’s also important to take care of hand hygiene, so packing your own sanitizer and disinfecting wipes makes good sense.

Finnair aircraft photo gallery:

Finnair’s traffic drop 98.7% in April

Finnair has released this report for April:

Finnair’s significant capacity reductions due to the coronavirus impact were clearly visible in all traffic figures

In April, Finnair carried 16,100 passengers which is 98.7% less than in the corresponding period of 2019. The overall capacity measured in Available Seat Kilometres (ASK) decreased in April by 97.0%. Finnair’s traffic measured in Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKs) decreased by 99.1%. The Passenger Load Factor (PLF) decreased year-on-year by 57.5% points to 23.9%. All traffic figures were heavily impacted by the significant coronavirus related capacity reductions, which were visible especially in the North Atlantic figures as there were no flights to North America in April.

The ASK decline in Asian traffic was 99.4%. The North Atlantic capacity decreased by 100.0%. In European traffic, the ASKs were down by 93.2%. The ASKs in domestic traffic decreased by 96.1%.

RPKs decreased in Asian traffic by 99.4%, in North Atlantic traffic by 100.0%, in European traffic by 98.5% and in domestic traffic by 98.7%.

The PLF was 82.7% in Asian traffic, 17.5% in European traffic and 21.9% in domestic traffic, whereas there was no PLF figure in the North Atlantic traffic due to zero flights in April.

Passenger numbers decreased in Asian traffic by 99.3%, in North Atlantic traffic by 100.0%, in European traffic by 98.4% and in domestic traffic by 98.8%.

Available scheduled cargo tonne kilometres decreased by 99.2% year-on-year and revenue scheduled cargo tonne kilometres decreased by 99.5%, both due to the coronavirus impact. However, cargo related available tonne kilometres decreased by 88.7% and revenue tonne kilometres decreased by 85.5% and they include also the cargo only flights operated primarily between Asia and Europe. Finnair operated 124 (one-way) cargo only flights in April.

In April, 95.9% of all Finnair flights arrived on schedule (82.5%).

Finnair aircraft photo gallery:

How Finnair is keeping cargo moving with passenger planes

From the Finnair blog:

On a regular day, Finnair’s Airbus A350 aircraft are full of customers making the journey from Helsinki to major cities across Asia. While they read, sleep or watch a movie, their bags are stashed away beneath them in the hold.

Airbus A350 loaded with cargo

However, with most of our planes now grounded due to the coronavirus pandemic, Finnair Cargo has found a new way to keep these cutting-edge passenger aircraft in the sky. The cabins are empty, but the plane’s belly is full of cargo.

On Saturday March 28th, an Airbus A350 loaded with close to 40 tons of seafood and perishables took off from Helsinki for Incheon Airport, South Korea’s main hub, serving the country’s capital, Seoul.

NO LUGGAGE, MORE SPACE FOR CARGO

For Fredrik Wildtgrube, Finnair Cargo’s Head of Sales, it was an emotional moment.

“It was wonderful when I went to watch the plane take off on its way to Incheon,” he says. “We have been shrinking our capacity, because we are a passenger driven airline. But at the same time, as cargo people we’ve been acting as salmon and swimming upstream against the current. We’re really proud that we could do this.”

Wildtgrube explains that using the A350 to carry cargo was a no brainer. While the cabin remained empty, the lack of luggage in the hold meant the aircraft had excellent uplift capacity, allowing staff at Helsinki’s cutting-edge COOL cargo terminal to maximize the amount the plane could carry.

What’s more, the A350’s impressive sustainability, using on average 25 per cent less emissions than previous generation aircraft, meant that getting goods to South Korea and back was as fuel efficient as possible.

CONTINUING DEMAND FOR CARGO IN ASIA AND EUROPE

A350 loaded with cargo at Helsinki
Finnair A350 is loaded with cargo before heading to South Korea

Customers in South Korea, especially, are looking to access food products, especially seafood. Those in Europe are in need of medical supplies related to coronavirus, as well as general cargo and electronics made across Asia.

“South Korea has always been a strong location for us, especially given the frequency we have provided in the past and our geographical position,” explains Wildtgrube. That meant heading to Seoul for this first cargo flight using passenger aircraft was an easy decision to make. “We followed the demand, we followed the market and we followed our customers,” he adds.

This is echoed by Pasi Nopanen, Finnair Cargo’s Sales Director, Asia. “During this extremely exceptional time we have been busier than ever in cargo sales,” he says.

“We are working relentlessly on these cargo-only flights and we are expecting to see more of them in the coming weeks,” adds Nopanen. “Japan and South Korea seem to be interesting destinations due to high demand in both directions. China is also an important destination due to a lot of medical equipment manufacturing that is in extremely high demand in Europe at the moment.”

That all means more passenger aircraft being used to transport cargo. There are already plans for two flights to Narita airport in Tokyo, with more in the pipeline.

“We hope to find some sort of continuous pattern, but since the market is changing so rapidly, we need to monitor our performance. At the end of the day, we’re in the reliability business, which means we need to keep our promises,” explains Wildtgrube.

“But we definitely want to work on something long term, rather than just doing it on an ad hoc basis.”

JOINING THE CORONAVIRUS FIGHT IN FINLAND

Finnair cargo staff get ready for take off
Finnair cargo staff prepare for the departure of the A350 to South Korea

These flights also have a key role to play in the wider fight against coronavirus. With South Korea heralded for its rate of testing, Finnair has teamed up with healthcare company Mehiläinen and ten major Finnish companies to send Covid–19 samples from Helsinki to Incheon for testing.

The aim is to double the number of tests done in Finland, analyzing 18,000 samples over the next two weeks. The first flight left Helsinki on April 1. Finnair has also been carrying supplies for the National Emergency Supply Agencies in Finland and Estonia.

“We’re really happy to be able to carry on this path and do some work for humanitarian purposes,” says Wildtgrube. “It’s not only work on the commercial side. When I talk to my family at home, I can say I’ve done something for the humanitarian purpose. That feels pretty good.”

There are, of course, aircraft available if needed, whether for general cargo, medical supplies or in sending coronavirus samples for testing in South Korea.

But with cargo customers keen to try and keep goods flowing in these straitened times, that availability is going to come in useful in the coming weeks. Finnair Cargo is ready and waiting.

This week, Finnair will fly more than ten return flights on  its  A350 aircraft to  Tokyo

Narita, Seoul, Osaka, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

This week, to increase cargo capacity, the cabins  of two A350s will be converted for cargo use.

Finnair aircraft photo gallery:
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Parked but not forgotten, maintaining Finnair’s grounded fleet

From Finnair blog:

With Finnair’s capacity cut by 90 percent due to coronavirus, aircraft that would usually be flying routes across Europe, Asia and North America have had to be grounded. But parking an airplane isn’t like leaving a car on the drive. It requires extensive maintenance, not to mention lots of space.

A Finnair aircraft with engine covers

PARKED UP IN HELSINKI

“Alongside our natural Helsinki hub we have established capability to park aircraft also in Rovaniemi and Tampere,” explains Jukka Glader, Finnair’s VP of Ground Operations. Currently, though, only Helsinki is being used, with no plans to use airports other than those at Rovaniemi and Tampere.

“In practice, it is much easier to ground all at the Helsinki hub,” says Glader. “All grounded aircraft need applicable minimum servicing.”

Finnair aircraft parked at airport

This servicing is vital for ensuring that aircraft are fit to fly when they are called back into service, hopefully sooner rather than later.

“From the technical point of view there are a whole lot of actions that must be done – especially, when the aircraft are parked in “flight-ready” condition,” says Glader. “This means that the aircraft and its systems are maintained and tested regularly even if all the sensitive systems and components like engines and air data probes, such as those for speed and altitude, are covered and protected.”

REGULAR CHECK UPS

Finnair’s Airbus fleet requires separate checks every seven, 14 and 30 days. Seven day checks are the most basic, with a visual once over of the airplane and all of its protective equipment. The 14 day check is more involved. Aircraft batteries are reconnected and the main electrical systems energized. This is followed by various system tests on things like flight controls and wheel brakes.

Three Finnair aircraft with engine covers

The 30 day check requires maintenance staff to carry out much more extensive work. All external protections are removed and the engines are started. Air conditioning, anti–ice systems, on the wings and in the engine, are all inspected to ensure there are no problems. Once this is done, the airplane is placed back into parking status.

“This cycle will continue – we hope – for a maximum of up to three months,” says Glader.

“Aircraft parking employs our staff more than expected,” he adds. “Even if the aircraft is parked it is essential to follow the technical instructions and recommendations of the aircraft and engine manufacturers.”

The good news is that, with all of this maintenance, getting Finnair planes back into the air, when the time is right, will not take long.

“We have roughly estimated that preparation of one aircraft into flight condition will take one whole day,” says Glader, although it could be even faster.

CORONA CHOCKS

One of the biggest challenges in parking the majority of Finnair’s fleet has been ensuring the brakes are still in good shape.

“When an aircraft is parked for a longer period of time the parking brakes will fade even if they are set on. For most aircraft types this will happen within 24 hours,” says Glader. Usually, that means placing four chocks behind each set of wheels on an aircraft. But these are not normal times. Between 10 and 12 chocks are now required for each plane. And with so many parked up outside in Helsinki, there simply weren’t enough to go around. Step forward local carpenters in the Finnish capital.

“No one wants to see the 150-ton aircraft rolling on its own on the tarmac!” says Glader.

Two Finnair aircraft parked near an icy runway

“This is where Finnair Engineering jumped in and proposed the manufacturing of temporary wooden chocks – “Corona Chocks”. A local carpentry shop was contacted and no less than 500 wooden chocks were custom made for Finnair within two weeks of the order being placed.”

It’s another case of people pulling together in a time of crisis. But hopefully it won’t be too long before Finnair’s planes are back where they belong: up in the sky, taking customers all over the world.