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Finnair not averse to Kingfisher’s direct flights to Helsinki

Helsinki. Despite a pact with Vijay Mallya-led Kingfisher Airlines, Nordic carrier Finnair said it has no objection to the Indian carrier connecting directly with Helsinki from other Indian cities as it saw huge possibilities in their partnership.

“I cannot rule out Kingfisher connecting Helsinki with some of the major Indian cities. But it is up to them,” said Mika Vehvilainen, chief executive of Finnair. “I would love to see our partnership develop further,” Vehvilainen told IANS here.

His reference was to the recent pact with Kingfisher that enabled the carrier to add seven more Indian destinations to its network in India by quick transfers for pasengers on the Indian carrier to Finnair’s own direct flights between New Delhi and Helsinki.

“We area already doing a lot of code-sharing and this will only grow,” he said. The pact covers Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Jaipur and Ahmedabad, and allows the passengers to also redeem points on any of the two carriers.

Vehvilainen said Finnair also saw a huge opportunity to transfer traffic between India and North America, but said the collaboration with Kingfisher on that may happen only after Kingfisher formally joins the OneWorld alliance of 12 global carriers.

“Kingfisher is a first class, high quality airline. It fits into the OneWorld image,” said the airline’s chief executive.

“We have always looked at Helsinki as a hub-and-spoke model. There is certainly a huge opportunity in the transfer-traffic between India and North America,” said Vehvilainen, adding that this market covered family, tourism and business travel.

“As far as Kingfisher is concerned, it is early. Kingfisher is in the process of joining the OneWorld. But yes, there is an opportunity.”

Finnair, which was forced to curtail direct scheduled operations to Mumbai due to lack of availability of aircraft and other market considerations, said it had no immediate plans to re-start the direct operations in the immediate future.

“Currently we do not have any such plans.”

Nevertheless, Finnair Cargo is starting its flights between Helsinki and Mumbai this week in co-operation with Nordic Global Airlines. The service will be operated once a week with a Boeing MD-11F aircraft.

(IANS)