LONDON – Finnair suffers from Russian airspace closures and sluggish recovery of key Asian routes.
The airline is partially switching to wet-lease operations: Lufthansa is deploying three Airbus A350-900s with Finnair crews on the Eurowings Discover network out of Frankfurt and Munich over the summer.
Finnair is the national airline of Finland, headquartered in Vantaa and based at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. It is a member of the oneworld airline alliance. Founded in 1923, Finnair is the sixth oldest airline still operating in the world.
Eurowings Discover will lease three Airbus A350s from Finnair.
“The wet-lease agreement for the first two aircraft will start in May and for the third in June,” Finnair confirmed on Wednesday, confirming market rumors that have been circulating for weeks about cooperation with the Lufthansa subsidiary.
EW Discover Ltd. in the external appearance of Eurowings Discover is a German airline and part of the Lufthansa Group.
Originally launched under the project name Ocean, it offers tourist flights on short-, medium- and long-haul routes.
The first aircraft in the new livery was unveiled at the end of April 2021. Growth to a fleet of 21 aircraft is planned by mid-2022, with all aircraft to come from the Lufthansa Group fleet pool. As of March 2022, the fleet consists of 16 aircraft with an average age of 12.0 years.
The agreement is initially valid until the end of the summer season. “Aircraft and crew will operate flights for Eurowings Discover from Frankfurt and Munich to various destinations in the U.S. and Canada,” Finnair said. “In total, Eurowings Discover will thus employ nearly 400 crew members.”
Finnair owns 17 Airbus A350-900s and eight A330s.
The Finns’ Asia-heavy intercontinental business is under pressure due to tensions with Russia and rigid corona strategies in the Far East. Finnair CEO Topi Manner now assumes “permanent Russian airspace closures” – and is adjusting the strategy.
Finnair considers fleet reduction
If that’s not enough, Finnair plans to resort to more drastic measures. “We continue to review our fleet plan,” Manner said. In addition to “additional wet-lease opportunities,”.
Finnair is now “also considering a potential sale of unused aircraft.”
Finnair is not Eurowings Discover’s only wet-lease contractor over the summer. The airline is also using two Airbus A220s from Air Baltic.
With that said, it will be interesting to see how Finnair will recover from the pandemic in the future and how the lease agreement will help Finnair recover and how the A350 will help the young German Lufthansa subsidiary grow.