Source: Zee News Author: 09/10/2006
Finnair, which is launching its scheduled services to the sub-continent on October 30, is on the look out for a domestic code share partner, besides studying the possibility of moving labour intensive aircraft maintenance services to India.
The Finnish flag carrier, which is part of the Oneworld Alliance, said that it was in talks with some full-service Indian carriers initially for a pro-rata agreement, but declined to share more details.
"If we find solutions that are economically viable for Finnair and obviously for the other partner as well, we don't have anything against introducing code share with an Indian airline," Finnair president and CEO Jukka Heinonen told visiting reporters here.
He, however, refused to name the airlines that Finnair is in talks with.
"We are in talks with most of the Indian airlines, but not the low-cost ones. We have some agreements in place about sharing revenues that's the first step (to a code share)," Finnair director (Indian sub-continent) Taina Tornstrom said.
Hienonen said Finnair would like to see in the future, an Indian (airline becoming a Oneworld member).
"We are very practical on those issues (code share). We are in code sharing with Air China, Japan Airlines and Air France, even though it belongs to a different alliance, (but) of course I think that for Oneworld (too) it would be interesting to have an Indian member," he said.
But becoming a Oneworld alliance member is not a precondition to a code share arrangement with Finnair, Hienonen pointed out, saying that Star Alliance was very strict about not entering into partnerships with airlines that are not its members, but Oneworld was very liberal.
"Obviously, we would like to have cooperation with a partner who would later become a Oneworld member," he said.
Code share could benefit both the carriers and travellers by offering more connections even on thin routes.
On working with a local partner for heavy maintenance/ground handling, he said the airline was also looking at all cooperation possibilities in this field. "In catering and ground handling, we always have to have a local partner... The more we fly the more we buy these services."
Finnair has already tied up with Mumbai-based ambassador group for in-flight catering. Ambassador's chefs have designed the menu for the Helsinki-New Delhi service that would commence on October 30.
As regards to maintenance, he said Finnair has a great deal of expertise on this front as it had been servicing all the aircraft it had ever flown and could look at supporting aircraft that Finnair no longer flies itself. "We could of course consider cooperation with very many potential partners for establishing those services outside Finland."
Hienonen said there was potential for India to become a centre for very labour intensive aircraft maintenance services, but said "it was only a potential for the future and nothing is concrete as of now."
The Finnish carrier at the moment has six Mcdonnell Douglas MD-11S in its fleet and would add two A340S by April and May next year, while delivery of A350s is expected to be delayed by a year-and-a-half.