Finnair began flying passengers from Manchester airport on 27th March 1994 and since then have increased the frequency of flights from just a few flights per week to twice daily today.
In 1994 Finnair flew first to Stockholm and then onto Helsinki providing a valuable lifeline and opening up an important trade route to the Nordic region.
These days the Manchester- Helsinki connection is increasingly more important for the North West’s trade routes to Asia especially China to which Finnair has 5 destination cities including Xi’an, Chongqing, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Clive Drinkwater, UKTI regional director, said: “The North West of England is the largest exporting region to China and Asia. Exports to Greater China have increased dramatically over recent years and the country is now the region's 3rd largest export market (from 12th only six years ago). We still need to do better, however and it is very welcome news that Finnair has added routes to Xi’an in China to its large Asia network. I look forward to seeing the access to these new routes help increase connections for North West businesses and further assist the development of international trading links, not just in China but in some of the fastest growing economies around the world such as India, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, which are good both for individual firms and for the prosperity of the region as a whole”
This season Finnair once again begin flights to Xi’an China and Hanoi Vietnam increasing the destinations in Asia to 13 cities.
Mats Sigurdson, Aviation Commercial Director for Manchester Airports Group (MAG commented: “Asia and the Far East are key target markets for Manchester particularly as we progress our Airport City development alongside companies such as Beijing Construction and Engineering Group (BCEG) so it’s fantastic news to be celebrating 20 years of Finnair’s Manchester to Helsinki route, which now has twice daily flights via Helsinki with onwards connections to five key cities in China. Finnair continue to perform strongly from Manchester Airport and we looking forward to celebrating many more anniversaries with them here in Manchester.”
Finnair CEO Pekka Vauramo said “This week we mark an important milestone in Finnair’s 90 years of history, our 20th anniversary of flying from England’s second city Manchester to Helsinki. This is an important link in our global connectivity especially because there are as yet no direct flights to Asia from Manchester and this means that our flights are the fastest, most convenient option for North West UK travellers.”
“Strong economic growth in China, combined with a growing appetite for outbound travel from Asia destinations, is driving our strategic focus on Asian traffic. There continue to be many exciting opportunities for growth between Manchester and the East.”
Finnair has gradually built on its Asian strategy during the past two decades, taking advantage of the geographical position of its Helsinki hub on the shortest routes between the great cities of Asia and Manchester. In addition to the five Chinese cities mentioned Finnair also operates to Bangkok, Delhi, Hanoi, Nagoya, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo. The airline's service and timetables are optimised for transfer traffic between these cities and Manchester airport.