The scene changes to capture the pilot enjoying a bite of an apple. An apple with Finnair’s logo and a bite mark rests on the table. “The world is getting closer,” the chime declares.
Those were the golden times, when Finns ventured outside their saunas eagerly to discover the world. Finnair played the role of a bridge and connected them to distant horizons.
Still, like all stories, Finnair’s journey met with ups and downs. Periods of prosperity accompanied by staggering financial losses. The carousel of CEOs was spinning. In a dramatic turning point, the airline, in pursuit of self-preservation, seemingly broke away from its Finnish roots. No more taking Finns to the world or bringing the world to Finland. Investing heavily in the “Via Helsinki” strategy, Finnair acquired a fleet of Airbus A350 XWBs, presenting itself as the optimal channel for travelers from China, Korea, Japan and other Far East destinations heading to Europe’s iconic cities. . Interesting, not to Helsinki itself but “through Helsinki”. Helsinki-Vantaa Airport turned into a busy transit hub. Most of the passengers just changed flights and continued their journey to Paris, Rome, London or Vienna. Then Covid reared its head and stopped flights for almost two years. The only exception is empty flights, which preserve prestigious airports worldwide. As air traffic hinted at a recovery, geopolitical tensions related to the EU’s stance on Russia hit Finnair’s operations. Finnair’s northern route relied heavily on the use of Russian airspace. The previously efficient 9-hour flight to Beijing extended to a miserable 13 hours. Again, Finnair’s pace slowed down.
Have the airline’s ups and downs been a series of unfortunate events or is it due to poor management? Finnair lost a whopping billion euros in 2020-2021. Find out that in 2020, CEO Topi Manner received almost 400,000 euros in bonuses. At the same time, the state (read taxpayers) capitalized Finnair with almost 300 million euros and guarantees with 600 million euros. Despite the financial support, the company balanced its finances with significant layoffs and laid off 1,000 workers, effectively transferring unemployment, benefits, i.e. taxpayers’ wages, to them. The annual earnings of Finnair’s personnel also fell by 40 percent after the union negotiations. Surprisingly, Manner still runs the company.
As the world shrinks, the competitiveness of the aviation industry is indeed getting stronger. The key to success depends on offering unmatched quality or unbeatable prices. Unfortunately, Finnair didn’t make it to the championship either. Result? A precarious position that no airline wants to occupy: inferior and overpriced.
To prevent this, the management teams of the companies made a succession of questionable decisions. The introduction of an “Economy Lite” ticket is just the latest ploy by a company that seems to be losing its pulse on both market realities and customer sentiment. You can almost imagine the conversations: “Charge passengers for every possible service!” All parts of the trip were funded, from seats to meals and even hand luggage. The irony is not lost: the very taxpayers who have repeatedly saved Finnair from the brink have experienced the burden of these measures.
Non-changeable, non-refundable, no carry-on, pay extra for seat selection, pay extra for snack or food; the ticket is for the cargo, not the passenger.
Finland has never been synonymous with high-quality customer service. When this reputation is combined with Finnair’s increasingly obvious indifference to its passengers, the result is anything but commendable. This stark contrast provides a hilarious spectacle for the contestants. Finnair’s slogan might read: “Finnair: Just pay the bill and take it easy,” says your cashier in the sky.
Feedback on Finnair’s operating methods and passenger treatment has increased. Helsinki Times is flooded with letters from angry customers every week. Complaints are plentiful and frequent, from lost luggage, mistreatment and canceled flights to poor quality food or poor service.
One passenger tells about the travel disruption: “Our flight from Kuopio to Helsinki was suddenly cancelled. Finnair’s solution? A bus trip to Helsinki.” Their request for compensation was met with indifference: “You reached your destination, didn’t you?” The five-hour journey was punctuated by a thrifty offer disguised as a sandwich.
A hurt mother tells of her ordeal when she tried to change her daughter’s flight. The mother’s frustration is palpable. A refrain emerges: Finnair’s unwavering commitment to profit, often at the expense of passenger satisfaction.
“My daughter was due to go with me on a business trip to Rome to buy her ticket with a refund on a previously canceled Finnair flight. When the dates of my conference changed, I changed my booking. Despite contacting Finnair three times to explain my daughter’s neurodivergent condition and the anxiety that meant she couldn’t travel alone, we were turned down every time by their indifferent (sometimes downright rude) customer service. They referred to his no-change policy on his ‘lite’ ticket, even though there were seats available on the previous flight.” He adds: “Finnair’s outrageous policy meant we couldn’t buy even a one-way ticket without canceling the return leg of his original booking. It was either traveling separately or waiving the original price AND a new round-trip ticket for 700 euros.” The difference between the “Lite” and the “classic” flexible ticket would have been about 40 euros. Mom’s frustration is palpable.” We were succinctly told to consider these things when purchasing a “lightweight” ticket. Their representative even admitted that they receive hundreds of such calls every week, each of which is charged 1.7 euros. If an airline is making hundreds of complaints about one thing, isn’t that a glaring sign that something is wrong?”
Finnair’s recent advertising campaigns seem far removed from its adventurous past. “Home for the evening” or “Make sure you’re home by dusk,” they proclaim. This inward message suggests caution rather than exploration. Although they promise a return to business as usual, it comes with a caveat: subject to flight availability and without corporate turbulence. Perhaps the sensible choice is to stay put or entrust your trip to another airline.
Source: The Nordic Page