HELSINKI, June 28 (Xinhua) -- The number of weekly scheduled non-stop flights between China and Finland exceeded 50 this week as China's Juneyao Air began daily services between Shanghai and Helsinki.
Juneyao Air is the second Chinese carrier to have started flights to Finland. In April Tibet Airlines began its flights between Jinan and Helsinki. The route is operated currently twice a week in both directions.
The first arrival of a Juneyao aircraft was celebrated at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport early on Friday with the traditional water salutes, when airport firebrigade equipment creates a plume of water over the aircraft at the tarmac.
About 99 percent of the seats were sold out on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. "It was very good and very fast. So we arrived early, which is always good," said Peter Vesterbacka, a Finnish businessman who took the flight returning from a startup event in Nanjing, China to Helsinki.
Joni Sundelin, executive director of the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, expressed pleasure with the fact that Juneyao Air has chosen Helsinki as its first European destination.
"We have been working for a long time to get Chinese airlines also flying. As you know, we have good connections to China and from China with Finnair, but it is really a good compliment to have also two Chinese airlines flying from Shanghai and Jinan to Helsinki," Sundelin told Xinhua at the welcome ceremony.
The arrival of Juneyao Air has added aircraft variety and choices to Finland-China services. While the Finnish national carrier Finnair and Tibet Airlines fly various types of Airbus aircraft, Juneyao Air flies to Helsinki with Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
Besides the arrival of the two Chinese carriers in Finland, this spring has also seen an expansion of code-share cooperation between the Finnish national carrier Finnair and Chinese airlines.
In May, Finnair and China Southern announced code share cooperation that extended Finnair flight numbers to five new Chinese cities. China Southern code was added to Finnair flights from Helsinki to seven continental airports and London LHR.
Code share cooperation between Finnair and Juneyao Air added this week eight Chinese cities to the Finnair network. Inside Finland, Juneyao Air code is now for connecting customers to and from Finnish airports in Ivalo, Kemi, Kuopio, Oulu and Rovaniemi. Juneyao code HO is now also on the Finnair Shanghai route.
There is no code share cooperation between Finnair and Tibet Airlines. Last year Finnair widened its code share cooperation with the Hong Kong-based Cathay Dragon.
While Finnair is part of the One World Alliance, Juneyao Air is a connecting partner in Star Alliance. This means that both the Finnair and Juneyao Air flights carry customers of both of those alliances.
The trip to Finland was also the first inter-continental non-stop flight run by Juneyao, said Wang Junjin, chairman of the group. "It means a lot to us," he told Xinhua.
Wang said the airline is purchasing a batch of 10 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in an effort to expand its business into the Asian-European connection. More flights may be opened next year between Shanghai and European cities. The airline has Hongqiao Airport as its base.
In 2018, 550,000 passengers traveled between China and Finland. Chinese cities were the most popular long distance destination after Japan from the Helsinki-Vantaa airport.