Finnair celebrates 35 years of China operations

Alan Wilson from Stilton, Peterborough, Cambs, UK, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Adrian Olstad 4 Min Read
4 Min Read

On June 2, Finnish flag carrier Finnair celebrated 35 years of flying to China and connecting Asia with Europe. The celebration takes place simultaneously alongside the carrier’s celebration of its centenary as one of the earliest pioneers in aviation.

The first Finnair flight to China took off on June 2, 1988, on the then new non-stop service between Helsinki and Beijing, thus becoming the first Western European airline to offer non-stop flights between the two continents.

Time for celebration

June 2 saw Finland’s very own Finnair (AY) celebrate 35 years of operations to China, following the first flight on June 2 1988 – 35 years ago.

The major milestone for Finnair is celebrated alongside the carrier’s celebrations of its centenary as one of the earliest pioneers in aviation.

As mentioned, the first flight took place in 1988, and the exciting new destination followed just five years after the Finnish carrier opened its revolutionary destination of Japan.

The move in such long distance flights were made possible by the advancement technology-wise within their DC-10 fleet, enabling North-Pole track flights in order to facilitate the shortest possible route to the destination.

The geographical location of Finnair’s Helsinki hub has enabled the carrier to act as a bridge between Europe and Asia across the northern route ,thus enabling Finnair to continue the expansion across the region.


Finnair also made history in 2003 as the only Northern European and oneworld alliance airline to offer direct flights to Shanghai at the time.

Prior the pandemic and the closure of Russian airspace following the Ukraine war, Finnair flew to more destinations in China than any other European carrier, serving seven destinations in China.

These include Beijing Capital Airport, Shanghai, Chongqing, Xi’An, Guangzhou, Nanjing, and Daxing International Airport in Beijing. However, the carrier is getting back on track into select services with restrictions greatly lifted in the strictest areas.

Finnair statement

On the 35 year celebration of Finnair’s China services, Anssi Partanen, Finnair Market Manager UK & Ireland, said: “Finnair is proud to be celebrating 35 years of flying to mainland China this year – and acting as a bridge connecting Europe with Asia.”

“Despite the turbulence of recent years, especially following the closure of Russian airspace, we have continued to serve China and enable Finnair customers to fly easily and seamlessly from Europe to key destinations in Asia.”

“While our strategy may have evolved to adapt to recent political developments with increased services to North America, we are committed to connecting our customers with China and look forward to flying more flights to Asia in the future.” Anssi Partanen concluded.

About Finnair

Finnair is the flag carrier airline of Finland and is headquartered in Vantaa, Finland. It was founded in 1923 and is one of the oldest airlines in the world.

The airline operates flights to more than 100 destinations in over 30 countries, with a focus on Asia and Europe.

Finnair has a fleet of modern and efficient aircraft, including Airbus A320, A321, A330, A350, and Embraer E190 planes.

The airline is known for its excellent service, on-time performance, and its ongoing commitment to sustainability. In fact, Finnair was the first airline in the world to launch a biofuel-powered flight in 2011.

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