Because Finnair is forbidden from flying across Russian airspace, it may be forced to lay off up to 650 pilots and cabin personnel for at least three months.
The Helsinki-based carrier announced on Monday that it was bracing for a prolonged crisis and that flying to many of its Asian destinations was no longer “economically viable.”
Flights to five Asian locations in South Korea, Japan, and China were briefly halted, but the airline has since been allowed to resume service to Tokyo with up to four flights per week through an alternate route that adds over four hours to the trip time.
Finnair is also looking into the prospect of resuming flights to Seoul, South Korea, and several Chinese destinations, but with new routings that will add to the travel time.
Finnair’s status as the fastest northerly route from Europe to Asia will suffer as a result of the additional flight time, which will cost a lot more in fuel.
Flights to Bangkok, Phuket, Singapore, and Delhi can continue, but flight times will be increased by around an hour.
”With Russian airspace closed, there will be fewer flights by Finnair, and unfortunately less work available for our employees”, commented Jaakko Schildt, Finnair’s Chief Operations Officer.
”A large share of our staff has been on long furloughs during the pandemic, so the need for further furloughs feels especially harsh, and we are sorry for this.”
Despite the fact that entrance restrictions remain in place across much of Asia, Finnair has been able to keep its routes open thanks to robust cargo demand.
The retaliatory airspace embargo imposed by Russia on Finnair and other European carriers might put more strain on already strained international supply networks.
Despite the high freight demand, Finnair furloughed the great majority of its pilots throughout the epidemic and is pressing for reduced compensation and benefits to cut costs in the long run.
The airline has been gradually rehiring personnel, but Russian sanctions were imposed almost immediately. Finnair said it may have to lay off 90 to 200 pilots and 150 to 450 cabin crew members.