At Finnair, long-haul expansion to the United States was first talked about in the 1930s, in the company's early years. The expansion had to wait, however, as plans were put on hold after the outbreak of the Second World War.
Finnair flights from Helsinki via Copenhagen and Amsterdam to New York began on 15 May 1969. The new long-haul route was made possible by revolutionary navigation systems. Finnair flew to New York with DC-8 aircraft, which held nearly 200 passengers.
On blue and white wings to Asia
The long-haul expansion meant that the company needed to acquire a wide-bodied fleet. In 1975 Finnair received its first wide-bodied aircraft, DC-10s, which carried nearly 300 passengers.
Finnair's Far Eastern expansion began with the start of the company's direct flights to Bangkok in November 1976. On 22 April 1983 Finnair opened non-stop flights from Helsinki to Tokyo, the only European airline to offer such a service at that time. As the company was not allowed to fly through Soviet airspace, Finnair had the idea of fitting the DC-10 aircraft with extra fuel tanks, which made the 13-hour flights possible.
Direct flights to Beijing began on 2 June 1988, making Finnair the first Western European airline to have a non-stop route between Europe and China. Finnair did not withdraw from the Chinese market after the events of Tiananmen Square in 1989, even though many other airlines did so.
Finnair Plc today
Today, Finnair's position in traffic between Europe and Asia is well established and growing strongly. In its Asian expansion, the company is supported in particular by Finland's favourable geographical position: the shortest routes from Europe to the Far East pass through Helsinki.
Finnair is currently operating scheduled flights to 12 long-haul destinations: Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Delhi, Seoul, Singapore and New York. In summer 2013 Finnair will also introduce nonstop flights to Xian and Hanoi. The long-haul fleet currently consists of 15 wide-bodied aircraft.
The Finnair Group's fields of business are Airline Business, Aviation Services and Travel Services (Tour Operators and Travel Agencies). Finnair Group has around 7,000 employees. Subsidiaries operate in sectors that support flight operations or are closely related to it.