Finnair CEO Topi Manner.
Daniel Leal-Olivas | AFP | Getty Images
Finnair recently announced a new code-sharing partnership with one of China’s largest airlines, helping the European carrier boost its presence in the growing Chinese aviation market, the company’s CEO Topi Manner said Thursday.
Partnerships, like the one announced with China Southern last week, will allow the Finnish flag carrier to scale up in size to meet demand, according to Manner.
The agreement allows Finnair to fly between Guangzhou and the Finnish capital of Helsinki, as well as selected China Southern destinations in the world’s second-largest economy. As a result, Finnair passengers can travel from Guangzhou to Chinese cities such as Changsha, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Xiamen and other destinations using China Southern. The agreement starts on June 1.
“The code-share agreements that we have now recently released with China Southern, as well as Juneyao (Air), are important building blocks for our presence on the Chinese market, improving connectivity for our customers,” Manner told CNBC’s “Squawk Box ” on Thursday.
Earlier this month, Finnair agreed on a new code-share agreement with Shanghai-based Juneyao Air that added eight new destinations to the company’s network in China.
“These partnerships provide the additional connections for our customers and smooth travel experience,” Manner added.
The International Air Transport Association said in its 2016 forecast report that China would replace the U.S. as the world’s largest aviation market around 2024 — defined by air traffic to, from and within the country. The report was the trade association’s most recent 20-year air passenger forecast.
Looking at Europe, Manner said Finnair had been increasing its frequencies to London this year despite lingering uncertainties over the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union.
“We see a lot of underlying demand on the U.K. market, especially in us connecting to Asia,” he said. “Destinations like Hong Kong, Singapore (are) very much growing from London. “
In the event of a hard Brexit, where the U.K. leaves the EU without a formal deal in place, Manner said it’s unlikely that Finnair’s business strategy in the country will change much since the air traffic from London would “more or less be secure.”