Finnair aims at doubling cargo

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Finnair Cargo's new terminal at Helsinki Airport
Finnair Cargo's new terminal at Helsinki Airport

Finnair Cargo is aiming to double the amount of cargo it handles by 2020, as part of its investment in its widebody fleet and construction of a new freight terminal.

The carrier is set to receive 19 Airbus A350 over the next five years, increasing total bellyhold capacity by 50 per cent. In 2014, the airline handled 149,000 tonnes of cargo and is aiming to process 300,000 tonnes by 2020. Cargo made up 17 per cent of Finnair’s revenues last year.

Speaking to Air Cargo Week (ACW) on Tuesday 30 June before the cornerstone ceremony of the new terminal, Finnair Cargo vice president and head of cargo, Antti Kuusenmaki, says the facility heralds a new era for cargo and is part of a bigger plan and investment by Finnair, totalling three billion euros.

Kuusenmaki explains Finnair’s cargo strategy: “The construction is based on our model of transit cargo and specialised cargo. We have a strategy focusing on life sciences (pharma), perishables, mainly seafood and general cargo.” Finnair has introduced eight services for specialist types of cargo including pharma and seafood and will have two more by the end of 2015, Kuusenmaki adds, as part of its bellyhold cargo strategy.

The key trading lines for Finnair are central Europe and Asia, according to Kuusenmaki, and he says the airline is focusing on driving growth in these regions. The carrier is also set to add more bellyhold routes into high demand regions. “We are strong into North East Asia, China and Japan, as we have the optimum flying time from Europe of nine hours, so we want to get the most from this region,” Kuusenmaki tells ACW.

Kuusenmaki says a high growth area is salmon to Asia, and the carrier’s proximity to Norway means they can move salmon to Japan within 36 hours. Finnair is also seeing demand for high-end products to China. The Scandinavian market has not been too well, Kuusenmaki says, and he adds that Helsinki is not the strongest market and has challenges along with nearby Sweden. He says the uncertain macro economic situations in the Eurozone and Russia have not had too much of a negative effect, as strengthening currencies in Asia have helped balance any impact out.

Another key part of Finnair’s strategy, Kuusenmaki explains, is the twice-weekly freighter service into Brussels Airport, its only freighter route. He says this is integral to growth as it feeds the carrier’s network in Europe.