The Finnish carrier is to depart from Goa citing weak demand, and the once-thriving Indian beach destination is in crisis.
Finnair has been a steady part of the operations in the western Indian resort city of Goa for a quarter of a century, but now the airline is moving out, the Times of India newspaper writes.
The Finnish flag carrier is serving the Helsinki-Goa route twice a week in the winter schedules for 2018-19 with an Airbus A330-300, having converted what was a charter link to scheduled flights just over a year ago.
Finnair confirms it has no plans to return to the route after the current winter traffic programme.
“Flights to Goa will stop from the 2019-20 winter season onwards due to weak demand,” Mari Rouvi, communications manager at Finnair, tells Check-In.dk.
The move is another sign that Goa is losing out to other more advantageous destinations, thinks Ernest Dias, deputy director of the Indian destination management company Sita Travel.
“Finnair will not come to Goa from the next season as the charter operator has decided to withdraw. Goa is losing out because other destinations offer better package deals,” he admits to the Times of India.
German leisure carrier Condor, one of the first to fly charter flights to Goa, quit the destination in 2015.
The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa has repeatedly warned the Indian government about the trend but says it has not been taken seriously. Pollution and rubbish, including on the city’s beaches, has increasingly been reported in the global media.
“It’s a pity that Goa has lost another destination,” said the association’s president Savio Messias, adding that travel agencies from Japan, Finland, Spain and the Netherlands have withdrawn from Goa in recent years for health and safety reasons.
After Goa goes, Finnair will have only one destination in India. In the winter schedules it flies daily to New Delhi, down to four per week in the summer programme.
It has flown to New Delhi since 2007, and in 2008 there was also a short-lived route to Mumbai, which closed due to weak demand amid the financial crisis.
But Finnair may not be writing India off just yet. It has reportedly been in talks with the country’s aviation authorities on a possible connection between Helsinki and Chennai on the south-eastern coast. Chennai is trying to attract new international routes and Helsinki is an option.