05 September 2014

Finnair estimating impacts on new A350 routes if Russia closes skies

Finnair said A350 planes due to join its fleet in 2015 have the potential to fly around Siberia to reach Asia should Russia implement plans to close airspace in response to European sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis.

Photo by.@Constantin Rulffs

Airbus’s newest A350 has the range required to detour and still reach destinations in Japan and China around which Finnair has built its business model, Chief Executive Officer Pekka Vauramo said. The A350s will have the capability for diversions, though Vauramo said “there are very few facts” available to indicate whether Russia will go ahead with airspace closures.

“The additional freight capacity of this plane translates to me that it does have the range, technically it’s possible,” the CEO said in a briefing in Vantaa, near Helsinki, while adding: “I don’t want to speculate about Russia. We all know too little about that one.”

Finnair will get the first four of 11 A350s on order in 2015, serving cities including Shanghai and Beijing, routes that could be impacted by a closing of Siberia’s skies.

Finnair’s comments suggest the hurdles facing carriers should Russia shut off eastern airspace that was opened up with the end of the Cold War and collapse of the Soviet Union “would not be insurmountable,” said Sandy Morris an aerospace analyst at Jefferies International Ltd. in London.

“The fact that the A350 could probably do the fly-around is obviously an advantage,” Morris said. “It’s been a bit of a boon to airlines having that Russian airspace open up.”

Photo by.@Constantin Rulffs

With a long-haul strategy built around services connecting Europe with northeast Asia via the shortest routes over Russia, Finnair has more to lose than other carriers should Moscow elect to curb operations over Siberia.

Based on the article “Finnair Says A350 Has Range to Detour If Russia Closes Skies” published in Bloomberg

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