• Kyodo

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The first Finnair flight in three years left Kansai International Airport on Monday morning for Helsinki, as the Finnish airline resumed operations on the route on expectations that demand will pick up.

The nonstop flight, which passes over Siberia, takes around 9 1/2 hours, and is the shortest route between Japan and Europe.

For the time being, Finnair plans to operate three round-trip flights a week between Helsinki airport and Kansai airport near Osaka.

The airline started the flights in 1995 but stopped in 2000 because of a decline in demand.

The carrier decided to resume operations because the number of passengers on its flights from Narita airport, outside of Tokyo, has surged recently, and it expects demand to be strong in western Japan as well.

A ceremony was held at Kansai airport to mark the resumption of flights. Finnish Ambassador to Japan Eero Salovaara and Finnair’s chief operating officer, Henrik Arle, attended the ceremony, together with a person dressed in a Moomin character costume.

“We hope that a lot of people will visit Finland to enjoy the white nights and auroras,” a Finnair official said.

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