Finnair saw rising passenger numbers over the summer as travel restrictions eased but revenue remains well below pre-pandemic levels, resulting in another “heavily negative” quarterly loss.
For the quarter from July to September, revenue increased by 105 per cent year-on-year to €199.4 million, as passenger numbers rose by 72 per cent to 800,000.
It made a loss of €106 million euros, compared to €183 million in the same quarter of 2020.
The airline said: “Based on an increased level of vaccinations, Finnair expects Asia to open to travelers more meaningfully early 2022 – exclusive of China, which is expected to open only after the first half of 2022
“Due to the slow recovery of Asian traffic, Finnair estimates that the comparable operating losses will continue also during the first half of 2022.
“Even though Finnair estimates that the operational environment in the second half of 2022 will be closer to the pre-pandemic era, the company expects a return to its 2019 traffic levels, as measured in annual ASKs [available seat kilometres] in 2023.]”
Topi Manner, chief executive, said: “The negative impact of the pandemic continued in the third quarter, and our passenger numbers and revenue remained considerably below the pre-pandemic levels. Our result was still heavily negative.
“Our main market Asia continues to be largely closed to international travel, and the United States will not open before 8 November.
“Only approximately half of our markets are, thus, open for travel, which is clearly less than for many other European airlines.
“During the pandemic, we have raised approximately €3 billion of new financing. Our cash position is strong. This enables us to focus on the ramp-up of our traffic.”
He said early November will see a “significant development” as Thailand and the US are opening for quarantine-free travel as Finnair’s first long-haul markets.
“Importantly, we have also seen positive steps towards the opening of Asia-Pacific, with Singapore and Australia now allowing international travel in addition to Thailand,” he added.
“We estimate that South Korea and Japan will follow within a few months due to their improved vaccination coverage. China is likely to open only after the first half of 2022.
“As traffic increases, we have been able to call more employees back to work from furlough.”
The airline will also increase its services from Heathrow to Helsinki this winter to three a day, to cater for increased demand. In September, the Finnish carrier added two daily frequencies between London and Helsinki, rising to three from October 1. Elsewhere in Europe, it will increase its flights to offer double-daily services to Amsterdam, Munich, Dusseldorf, Berlin and Frankfurt, and three daily frequencies to Paris.
Finnair’s Osaka service resumes in October, and it will serve Chicago, previously a summer route, throughout the winter season.