November 8 2023  |  Events

Finnair celebrates centennial

By PAX International Magazine Staff

German-made Junkers F 13 in 1924.

Finnair marked its 100th anniversary on November 1, commemorating a century of commitment to its long-standing customers.

Finnair, first known as Aero, was established 100 years ago as of November 1. Its first aircraft was a German-made Junkers F 13 in 1924, the company shared on its website. The Junkers was a seaplane and Aero operated its flights from downtown Helsinki (Katajanokka by the harbour).

The aircraft’s maiden commercial flight was to carry mail from Helsinki to Tallinn, the company said. Later, the same aircraft operated flights between Helsinki and Stockholm in cooperation with the Swedish airline ABA. Aero carried 269 passengers in its first year in business. The last seaplane flight for Finnair (then Aero) was in December 1936. From this time onwards, the company has operated flights from solid ground.

The name Finnish Air Lines was first put in place for Aero’s fleet livery in 1947. Just two years later, in 1949, Aero became a member of IATA (the International Air Transport Association). At that time, it received its airline code AY, which Finnair still uses today.

In its timeline of company history, Finnair shared that by 1967, 95 percent of its scheduled flights were operated with jets. Soon after, in 1968, Finnair began using its new logo and officially changed its name.

The company said that Finnair flights from Helsinki to New York via Copenhagen and Amsterdam began in May 1969, operated on a DC-8 aircraft. It then expanded to Asia with direct flights to Bangkok in 1976.

Another milestone occasion in 1988 occurred when Finnair became the first Western European airline to offer non-stop flights between Europe and China, launching a route from Helsinki to Beijing.

In 1990, Finnair received its first MD-11 aircraft – the airline used this wide-body aircraft type for two decades, until 2010. Also in the 1990s (1992), the airline introduced its Finnair Plus program.

In November 1995, Finnair’s website launched and was one of the most comprehensive platforms offered by an airline at the time, the company said in its historical timeline of events. In 1995, the airline also began its collaboration with Moomin.

Finnair received its first A320 series aircraft in 1999, the same year it joined the Oneworld alliance.

In 2004, the airline introduced an online check-in for passengers travelling from Helsinki or Stockholm without connecting flights. Text-message check-in also became available for Finnair Plus members. Just a year later, the airline ordered nine A350 aircraft in 2005 and in 2006, Finnair received its first A340 for long-haul flights.

2011 brought major restructuring and cost-saving initiatives for the airline, the company said on its website. It completed its $213 million (200 million euro) restructuring and savings program in 2014.

In 2015, the airline became profitable again and received its first A350s. In October of that year, it also received its first A350 XWB aircraft.

2018 was a year of innovation and advancement for the airline, with Internet connection brought to Finnair’s European flights. In January 2019, the Push for Change initiative launched in January, allowing customers to offset their flights or buy biofuel. Further sustainability advances came when Finnair joined a Nordic Initiative for Electric Aviation supporting the development of electric aviation.

In 2020, the airline announced its goal to be carbon-neutral by the end of 2045. Soon after, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the airline operated fewer than 10 percent of its usual operations for the year. The company shared on its website that it furloughed most of its employees, paid customers more than US$427 million (400 million euros) in refunds and implemented a US$ 534 million (500 million euros) rights issue to improve its equity.

During this challenging time, the airline put Taste of Finnair ready-made meals on the shelves of grocery stores in Finland, both to create jobs for Finnair employees and to remind people of travel.

In 2021, Finnair dismantled and recycled a 21-year-old A319 aircraft at Helsinki Airport, making it the first commercial airliner recycled in Finland. A year later, the airline introduced its elevated long-haul experience with Premium Economy travel class. It also refreshed its Business Class and Economy Class experiences.

Also in 2022, Finnair invited passengers to offset their flight emissions with a service that combines Sustainable Aviation Fuel and trusted climate projects. All this culminates in the company’s milestone centennial celebration, with more to come.

Congrats from John Horsfall
Long time partner John Horsfall shared a celebratory sentiment on the company’s LinkedIn page to mark the milestone occasion: “Finnair was established on 1st November 1923, making it one of the oldest still operating airlines in the world. As one of our long-standing customers we would like to wish them the very best in their centenary celebrations - And here's to many more successful years ahead!”

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