Finnair’s CEO on Japan

Finnair held a press conference at the Imperial Hotel Tokyo on Sept. 24 to introduce Pekka Vauramo, who became the company’s new president and CEO in June.

Founded in 1923, Finnair is the flag carrier and largest airline of Finland and one of the world’s oldest airline companies.

Vauramo previously served in Hong Kong as chief operating officer of Cargotec’s MacGregor unit, a supplier of loading and access gears for ships and ports, and his knowledge of Asia was one of the factors in his appointment at Finnair.

At the event, Vauramo talked about the airline’s business strategy regarding Japan.

Since 30 years ago when the airline began its once-a-week service to Japan, the country has been one of Finnair’s biggest international markets. Today, Finnair offers more than 20 direct flights per week between Japan (through Tokyo-Narita, Nagoya-Chubu and Osaka-Kansai) and the capital Helsinki.

“Seventy percent of our passengers itinerate from Japan, not from Europe or Finland,” Vauramo said.

To offer quality hospitality to passengers from Japan, Finnair offer various services in Japanese including Japanese cabin attendants, signs and other messages in Japanese and a special automatic passport control for Japanese passengers that makes the immigration screening smoother.

In 1983, Finnair was the first European airline to launch a direct flight to Japan. Also, taking advantage of its geographical position, the airline flies the shortest route between Japan and Europe, with flights between Japan and Helsinki taking about 9½ hours on average.

At Helsinki, 85 percent of Finnair’s passengers from Japan transfer to their final destinations in other parts of Europe, and Helsinki Airport offers smooth transfers for Finnair customers (transfer times as short as 35 minutes) to over 50 cities in Europe, with same-day transfers to 40 destinations including Paris and London. Among these 40, Finnair connects travelers to 28 of these cities in the shortest time from Japan.

Furthermore, according to travel data provider FlightStats, Finnair was the most punctual international airline in April, May and August 2013.

“Therefore, the airline has much to satisfy Japanese passengers,” Vauramo said.

The airline has also been improving various services. For instance, its in-flight meals are supervised by two Michelin-starred chefs from Finland. Finnair is also the first airline in the world to fly the Airbus A321 aircraft with fuel-saving Sharklet wing tip devices. Fully flat business class seats for most of its aircraft are planned to be ready by autumn 2014.

To achieve its goal of doubling its number of passengers in the Asian market by 2020, the airline strives to add at least one new destination in Asia per year, Vauramo said.