In what will come as good news for investors, Finnish national flag carrier Finnair flew 550% more passengers in December 2021. In a statement released on January 5, 2022, the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport-based airline said it had seen a clear improvment in passenger traffic during December despite the ongoing pandemic still impacting aviation.
On the cargo side of the business, goods were continuing to be transported at a smooth pace. During December, Finnair carried 602,000 passengers, an increase of 551.4% compared to the same month in 2020. The December 2021 numbers were also up 23.8% compared to November 2021s numbers. Finnair points out that the month-on-month figures can be slightly misleading as there was one fewer day during November.
The Omicron variant is having an impact on travel
Despite the improving passenger numbers, Finnair says that travel restrictions brought in to help curb the spread of the Omicron variant were affecting travel. The oneworld alliance member said this was particularly visible on North American and Asian routes despite resuming flights to the United States and Thailand in November.
On average, and including cargo-only flights, Finnair operated 230 flights during December, a 206% increase on December 2020 and a 15.6% when compared to a month earlier. Finnair says that differences between the capacity numbers can be explained due to larger aircraft operating on more long-haul routes.
On-time performance was impacted by severe weather and COVID-19 restrictions
In Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKs), Finnair’s traffic increased by 1,081.5% year-on-year and by 49.8% month-on-month. The Passenger Load Factor (PLF) increased by 24.3% points to 54.4% year-on-year and by 8.4% points month-on-month. Regarding cargo, Finnair says its year-on-year figure increased by 109.2% and by 1.2% month-on-month. Finnair says that December was a new record month since the pandemic’s start in 2019.
During December, 56.3% of all Finnair arrived on schedule with on-time performance impacted by severe weather and COVID-19-related challenges, such as restrictions imposed at short notice that included additional paperwork and more checks. Also, with the new highly contagious strain of the Omicron variant prevalent in society, Finnair saw a higher than average level of employees going on sick leave.
Finnair bans the sale of alcohol after 17:00 on domestic flights
In other Finnair-related news, the Nordic carrier has banned the sale of alcohol on domestic flights after 17:00. Following a surge in new cases of COVID-19 over the holidays, the Finnish government implemented what it called a “safety break mechanism” to stop the virus from spreading.
The Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland (AVI) has ruled that the current restrictions that apply to restaurants in Finland, also apply for Finnair and Norra’s domestic flights. Thus, we cannot sell alcoholic beverages on our domestic flights after 5 p.m. pic.twitter.com/thoVpRB7yq
— Finnair (@Finnair) January 7, 2022
Even though the Omicron variant is proving to be less deadly than the Alpha and Delta stains, it moves through the population quickly. Anyone in Finland who becomes infected with COVID-19 must stay home for ten days. This is now putting pressure on staffing levels at Finnish hospitals and is forcing Finnair to cancel flights.
In a previous tweet posted three days ago, Finnair said that the coronavirus was impacting operations saying:
“We have been forced to cancel some flights, as the omicron variant and the flu season are causing increased sickness absences in Finnair and our partners’ teams. The same situation applies to other airlines and airports globally. Also, the winter conditions and their impact on operations challenge us on certain days. If your flight were to be disrupted, we will contact you via SMS or email.”
What do you think of the Finnair December 2021 numbers? Is it a clear sign that things or getting better? Please tell us what you think in the comments.