New Delhi: With its Asian passenger traffic growing 24 per cent, primarily due to its India-based operations, Nordic carrier, Finnair, is adding one more flight to India in June, and is also seeking clearance from the government to add more destinations in addition to Mumbai and Delhi.
"Currently we have 12 flights a week between India and Helsinki. By June, we will fly daily from New Delhi and six times a week from Mumbai," Taina Tornstrom, the director for Indian subcontinent for the airline, told reporters.
"We are eager to add more destinations. But currently the bilateral arrangement between the two countries permits flights only to Delhi and Mumbai," Tornstrom said.
Finnair said that increased traffic is also a result of some 70-odd Finish companies, like Nokia and industrial cranes major Kone, expanding their operations in India and, in turn, Indian corporates, particularly software majors such as Infosys, Sasken and Wipro setting up bases in Finland.
For Finnair, Bangalore and Chennai are some of the Indian cities that it would like to connect to. It is also tapping the India-Europe traffic, with Helsinki as the base.
"The visas issued by our embassy in India is also growing - from 40,000 in 2006 to around 60,000 in 2007. People are finding Finland interesting. We have Santa. We have lakes. We have saunas. We have reindeer. The interest is growing," Tornstrom said.
Tornstrom said Finnair offers the shortest possible links between Europe and India. Its India-US service is also offering shorter travel time, thanks to improved connectivity. "We now offer the second-fastest connection between Mumbai and New York, with a travel time of around 17 hours," Tornstrom said.
The Air India flights between the two destinations, the shortest currently, take around 15:30 hours.
"The potential is huge as the Asian traffic is growing by the day. Our Asian growth has been more than 30 per cent last year mainly due to the growth of our flights to India," she added.
Flag carrier, Finnair, has been operating to India for more than two decades, with chartered operations to Goa. It has begun scheduled services to India only in 2006, however.
"We operate more than 20 charters to Goa now during the winter season. Many are repeat travellers," Tornstrom said.