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Hans Hastio
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Finnair celebrates 100 years

November 8, 2023
Picture: Finnair

Finnair turns 100! Let's celebrate it with a history article.

Early Years and Growth (1923-1940s)

1923-1924: Finnair, initially known as Aero, was founded in 1923. The following year, it received its first aircraft, a Junkers F 13 seaplane, used for flights between Helsinki and Stockholm and carrying mail to Tallinn.

1936-1946: Transitioning from seaplanes to land-based operations in 1936, Aero faced challenges during the Winter War (1939-40) and the Continuation War (1941-44), operating under military control. Post-war, in 1946, the Finnish State acquired a majority stake in Aero, and the airline acquired its first DC-3 aircraft.

Expansion and Modernization (1950s-1960s)

1952-1953: The Helsinki Olympics in 1952 boosted passenger numbers, coinciding with the opening of Helsinki Airport. In 1953, Aero began using the name Finnair in marketing, though the official name change occurred in 1968.

1960-1968: Entering the jet age in 1960 with Caravelle passenger jets, Finnair expanded its route network. By 1967, 95% of its flights were jet-operated. In 1968, Finnair officially adopted its name and logo, carrying one million passengers for the first time.

International Expansion and Innovation (1970s-1990s)

1976-1983: Finnair's expansion to Asia began with direct flights to Bangkok in 1976 and non-stop flights to Tokyo in 1983, becoming the only airline offering non-stop flights between Western Europe and Japan.

1985-1999: Innovations included introducing satellite telephones in 1986 and joining the oneworld alliance in 1999. Finnair also launched its website in 1995, becoming one of the most comprehensive online services offered by an airline.

Challenges and Strategic Shifts (2000s-2020s)

2001-2011: The 9/11 attacks in 2001 led to a decrease in air travel demand, prompting Finnair to focus more on Asian routes. In 2011, Finnair initiated a major restructuring and cost savings program.

2015-2020: Finnair returned to profit in 2015, receiving its first A350s and starting a massive recruitment program. However, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 severely impacted operations, leading to reduced flights and financial challenges.

2021-2023: Despite the pandemic, Finnair continued its path to recovery, introducing new routes and a 200-million-euro investment in its long-haul experience. The airline celebrated its 100th anniversary in November 2023.

Finnair's history is a testament to its resilience and adaptability in the face of global events and industry changes. From its humble beginnings with a single seaplane to becoming a key player in international aviation, Finnair's journey reflects the evolution of the airline industry itself. As it celebrates a century of service, Finnair continues to adapt and innovate, ensuring its place in the skies for years to come.

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