Cargo helps Finnair restore Asia service around Russia

2022 03 23

SOARING air cargo rates are making it possible for Finnair to reinstate long-haul passenger flights to Asia despite the added cost of detouring around Russia after the nation closed its airspace to Western airlines, reports New York's FreightWaves.

Freightos Air Index China-Northern Europe rates jumped 34 per cent in the past week to US$8.40 a kilogramme, just below the year-ago level when post-Chinese New Year shipping was especially strong. Globally, the average spot rate jumped 26 cents, or 6.4 per cent, to $4.31 per kilogramme in the past week.

The Helsinki-based carrier it will resume service to Shanghai once per week and three times per week to Seoul. It also cancelled flights to Osaka, Japan, and Hong Kong until the end of April.

It is the third time in a week that Finnair has adjusted its schedule to the closure of Russian airspace in response to European Union sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine that bar all Russian aircraft.

The company on February 27 temporarily cancelled service to Seoul, Osaka, Tokyo, Shanghai and Guangzhou, China - and Hong Kong until the end of March - to determine its options, saying that bypassing Russian airspace was not economically sustainable because the extra flight time adds significant fuel, personnel and navigation costs. The longer flight times also plays havoc with connecting flights.

It also has stopped flying to Moscow and St Petersburg. Before the end of February, Finnair offered daily cargo service on the Seoul route, including with cargo-only flights. Now, cargo service will be combined on the three weekly passenger flights.

Flight time for the new Shanghai and Seoul routes, which avoid Russian airspace, will be 12 to 14 hours, depending on the direction. Both routes go around Russia from the south, and the return flight from Seoul to Helsinki can also take the northern route, Finnair said. On the Shanghai route, the return flight to Helsinki is up to two hours longer than the inbound flight due to the winds along the way.

"The further increased price of cargo currently enables continuing of passenger services to Finnair's key Asian markets even with the longer flight times," Finnair said.

Source Shipping Gazette


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