Finnair future narrowbody fleet hinges on return to profitability

Battered by the Russia-Ukraine war and the subsequent closure of Russian airspace to European airlines, Finnair deferred its fleet renewal plans but its chief commercial officer acknowledged that the carrier will have to make a decision on narrowbodies soon. The Helsinki-based carrier today operates an all-Airbus single-aisle fleet with five A319s, 10 A320s and 14 A321s, according to ch-aviation.

The carrier recently retired two older A319s, and CEO Topi Manner has said Finnair will announce its plans when it returns to profitability, expected next year. “We’ll need to start planning soon on what the options are,” Ole Orver, chief commercial officer, told The Air Current at the International Air Transport Association Annual General meeting in Istanbul today. “But for now, our focus is on putting one foot in front of the other.”

Related: How the war in Ukraine transformed Finnair

In terms of widebodies, Finnair expects to take delivery of one Airbus A350-900 next year and one in 2026, which will bring its fleet of the type to 19. The new aircraft will fund growth, not replacement, most likely by adding frequencies to existing markets, Orver said.

Finnair’s long-haul international expansion likely will be to Oneworld alliance partners’ hubs — like Dallas, Seattle and Doha — as the carrier pivots to replace the extensive Asia connecting market it operated before the pandemic and the closure of Russian airspace. The carrier is unlikely to resume flying to secondary cities in Asia, like Chongqing, China, as those flights are not economically viable with the longer routings to avoid Russia, he added.

The Helsinki-based carrier does not plan to expand its wet-leasing operation this year. It currently has four A320s wet-leased to British Airways and two A330-300s to Qantas for Asia flights. “We are happy with the capacity we have,” Orver said, but noted that the airline retains the ability to wet-lease additional aircraft to Oneworld partners should it need to adjust its capacity.

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