Finnair Celebrates 100 Years of Flight Services

A Finnair A320 takes off in the snow.
Photo Credit: Finnair

Finnair, Finland’s national airline, proudly marks a remarkable milestone today – 100 years since its inaugural flight took off!

On March 20, 1924, a Junkers F 13 seaplane named “Regenpfeifer” (German for “Lapwing”) embarked on a historic journey.

It flew from Helsinki, Finland, to Tallinn, Estonia, carrying not just passengers, but the promise of a connected future.

Founded November 1923

Founded in November 1923 under the name Aero O/Y, Finnair quickly set its sights on bridging the skies within the Nordic region.

This first commercial flight, departing Helsinki at 3:40 pm, carried 162kg of mail. It led to a vital role in fostering communication across borders.

The versatile Junkers F 13, equipped with both skis and floats, was perfectly suited for Finland’s unique climate. This configuration allowed for smooth landings on snow or water depending on the season.

Finnish Heritage Agency , CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Legacy of Connecting the Baltics

The Helsinki-Tallinn route, established during that first flight, continues to be a cornerstone of Finnair’s network, with up to 10 daily flights operating between the two capital cities today.

Anssi Partanen, Finnair’s European Market Director, highlights the significance of this long-standing connection: “We are incredibly proud to celebrate 100 years since our first flight took off for Tallinn.”

Estonia is an incredibly important market for Finnair, and it’s fitting to mark not only a century of service to the Baltics but also the growing popularity of the region for travelers from the UK and Ireland.”

Finnair’s inaugural flight to London Heathrow Airport operated by a Convair 440 (OH-LRA); Public Domain.

The Importance of Air Services

Air connectivity is extremely important to Finland for several reasons:

  • Economic Impact: The air transport industry in Finland, including Finnair and its suppliers, significantly contributes to the country’s GDP. Studies by IATA suggest this contribution could be around $4.5 billion. Strong air links also enable tourism, another major contributor to Finland’s economy.
  • Global Reach: Finland is geographically located far north. Air travel allows Finland to overcome this geographical limitation and connect to important business and tourism destinations worldwide. This connectivity is crucial for Finland’s businesses to compete globally and attract foreign investment.
  • Passenger & Cargo Movement: Air travel is the fastest and most efficient way to move people and goods long distances. Strong air connectivity ensures the smooth flow of essential goods and services in and out of Finland.
  • Baltic Region Importance: As highlighted in the Finnair example, Finland has a long history of connecting the Nordic and Baltic regions. Air travel plays a vital role in maintaining strong economic and cultural ties with neighboring countries like Estonia.
A Finnair Embraer flying over mountains.
Markus Eigenheer from Genève, Schweiz, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Expanding Horizons: Direct Flights to Tartu

This centennial celebration coincides with another exciting development – the relaunch of direct flights between Helsinki and Tartu, Estonia’s second-largest city, on March 31, 2024.

This new route, with 12 weekly flights operated by Finnair’s comfortable ATR regional aircraft, marks the return of commercial air travel to Tartu.

Finnair takes pride in being the sole airline offering direct scheduled flights to this vibrant city, designated a European Capital of Culture for 2024.

Passengers traveling from key UK airports – London Heathrow, Manchester, Edinburgh, and Dublin – can enjoy seamless connections thanks to Finnair’s efficient network, with transfer times as short as 35 minutes within the same terminal.

A Finnair Airbus pulls up at the Seattle gate.
Photo Credit: Port of Seattle


Finnair’s 100-year journey is a testament to its dedication to connecting people and cultures. From its humble beginnings with a single seaplane to its modern fleet serving destinations worldwide.

Across a century of operation, the airline has consistently strived for innovation and passenger comfort.

As Finnair soars into its next century, one thing remains constant: its commitment to bringing people together, just as it did on that historic flight in 1924.

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read
You Might Also Enjoy