Passenger numbers grew 15.6% in January, trying to keep up with an even bigger rise in capacity.
The fastest growth in Finnair’s history is in progress, the carrier says in its latest traffic performance figures, the number of passengers growing 15.6% in January.
This was 965,700 passengers for the month, 15.6% more than in January 2017. Predictably, growth was most pronounced in the airline’s Asian traffic, up 23.2%.
Growth was also strong on North American routes (18%), European flights (14%) and domestic traffic (13.1%).
Overall, more than half of the airline’s passengers fly on European routes, more than one fifth on domestic routes, a fifth on Asian routes and the rest to and from North America.
However, Finnair’s overall capacity (ASK) increased by as much as 19.8% year-on-year. Finnair said that load factor for its total traffic was down by 0.4% to 80.1%.
In long-haul traffic, capacity was kept aloft mainly by its new A350 aircraft. Frequencies were added to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore and Chongqing as well as to new seasonal routes to Goa, Puerto Plata, Puerto Vallarta and Havana, which replaced Varadero.
The ASK growth in Asian traffic was 26.7%, for North American traffic 21%.
The 8.6% capacity growth on European traffic derived from an increase in the narrow-body fleet size year-on-year and additional seating capacity added to some narrow-body aircraft.
Capacity growth was directed at serving the new year-round destination of Reykjavik, added frequencies to Stockholm, Copenhagen and Berlin and direct flights to Lapland from Paris, London and Zurich.
Finnair says that the significant capacity growth in domestic traffic – up 30.2% – reflects added capacity to destinations in northern Finland “and shows Finnair’s contribution to boosting international tourism in Lapland”.
Traffic tries to keep up
Passenger traffic measured by RPK grew “almost at the same pace with capacity growth”, up 19.3%. The fastest RPK growth was in Asian traffic, up 23.8%, with European up 11.2%, American up 23.4%, domestic up 16%.
Despite the strong capacity growth, planes flew almost full on long-haul routes, but less so elsewhere. Load factor was 86.8% for Asian traffic, 79.6% for North American traffic. In Europe, load factor was 73.6%, for domestic traffic 60.1%.
Punctuality remained tricky during January, which the airline blamed on “difficult winter conditions” at its Helsinki-Vantaa hub, causing delays and cancellations during the month, with 69.4% of all Finnair flights arriving on schedule, down from 75.8% the previous January.