British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) will wet lease four A321-200s to Finnair (AY, Helsinki Vantaa) during the summer 2022 season as the latter seeks to keep its fleet flying despite the impact of the airport closure. Russian airspace on its network.
“The first two are leased from May 3 and the other two from June. The lease period is four months per aircraft. The aircraft and crew will operate British Airways flights from London Heathrow to a number of European destinations,” the carrier said. in its quarterly report.
Finnair operates fifteen A321-200s in-house and has sold four since the start of the year. The ch-aviation fleet ownership module shows that the carrier owned, via Finnair Aircraft Finance, OH-LZA (msn 941), OH-LZB (msn 961, both stored at Chateauroux), OH-LZC (msn 1185) and OH-LZD (msn 1241, both stored in Larnaca). The remaining fifteen A321s are leased. In turn, the fleet of this type of British Airways includes 18 units.
Both airlines are members of Oneworld and the same transatlantic joint venture.
The contract is the second major long-term ACMI commitment signed by Finnair for the summer 2022 season after three A350-900s it has leased from EW Discover (4Y, Frankfurt Int’l).
The Finnish carrier has relied heavily on routes to East Asia in its network strategy. However, after Russia closed its airspace in retaliation for Western sanctions, most of these routes became unviable from Helsinki Vantaa. Finnair has shifted more of its long-haul capacity to North America, but said it would operate at around 70% of pre-pandemic capacity this year.
“We are adapting to the reality of closed Russian airspace, and we have begun to determine adaptation measures as we move forward. In terms of the network, we are pivoting towards the West and South Asia and “We also operate, for example, India and US flows. Over the past month, our team has been working hard to find profitable use of our unused capacity after the closure of Russian airspace,” said the director. General Topi Manner during the conference call.
The carrier said that in addition to network rebalancing and wet leases, it would implement a 60 million euro ($63.3 million) savings program through “distribution, aircraft leasing and continuous improvement of operations”. She pointed out that her cash position was strong thanks to the fully undrawn hybrid loan of 400 million euros ($421.8 million) from the government, which was recently converted into an equity loan.
Manner admitted Finnair’s reorganization was likely a long-term change, given that restrictions on Russian airspace aren’t expected to go away any time soon.