Finnair jets go Down Under

Finnair is to supply Airbus A330s to Qantas after signing a new long-term agreement with the Australian carrier.

Under the terms of the deal, announced today (May 19, 2023), the Sydney-based airline will initially wet-lease a pair of aircraft for two years, before transitioning to a two-and-a-half year dry-lease arrangement in 2025.

The collaboration will see the incoming jets – due to arrive in October and early next year respectively – operating scheduled Finnair flights from Helsinki to Singapore and Bangkok, before continuing to Sydney on behalf of Qantas.

Commenting on the tie-up, Finnair’s SVP network and revenue management Antti Tolvanen said: "We are delighted to expand our collaboration with our oneworld partner Qantas. This agreement enables us to fully deploy our A330 fleet in profitable operations.”


Russian response

Finnair said the Qantas partnership is part of its “determined efforts to ensure the optimal use of its A330 fleet, which is range-limited in its deployment in [our] own long-haul operations due to the closure of Russian airspace.”

The Finnish carrier has long billed its Helsinki hub as the gateway to Asia owing to its geographical location, and had significantly grown its network eastwards to capitalise on transit traffic passing between Europe and the Far East. This was thrown into disarray last year by the tit-for-tat banning of foreign carriers into Russia, forcing the airline to take more circuitous routes to Asia either via the North Pole or south across the Baltics and eastern Europe, along the Black Sea and then east to their destination. The polar route to Tokyo now covers 13,000km over the previous 7,900km via Russia, increasing the flight time to around 13 hours and requiring an additional 20 tons of fuel; services to Shanghai now take a further two hours. This is achievable with its A350s, but has forced the carrier to withdraw its shorter-range A330s from its Far East network.

Finnair has since refocused its network, including redeploying its A330s on new links from Stockholm and Copenhagen to Doha in partnership with fellow oneworld member Qatar Airways. It added the agreement with Qantas “concludes the optimisation of [its] fleet following the Russian airspace closure.”