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File image of one of the aircraft in Finnair’s fleet. SUR
Finnair boosts capacity on Malaga Airport flights as company celebrates centenary
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Finnair boosts capacity on Malaga Airport flights as company celebrates centenary

It wasn't until 1964 that the flag carrier for Finland landed for the first time in Spain on a flight from Helsinki that, after a stopover in Barcelona, finally touched down on the Costa del Sol

Pilar Martínez

Malaga

Wednesday, 22 May 2024, 19:29

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Finland, a country that had just gained independence from Russia, entered the world of aviation in 1923 with the Aero OY company, the origin of today's Finnair, the country's flag carrier. A few months later, it began flying its first aircraft: an all-metal aircraft, an innovation in 1924, when almost all aircraft still had wooden or even fabric fuselages.

Now, the Finnish airline is celebrating 100 years of operation. It does so while connecting Malaga Airport with Helsinki, confirming its commitment to the Costa del Sol by scheduling the largest operation of the entire network in Spain at this destination, said Javier Roig, Finnair's director for southern Europe.

Roig presents the airline's plans for Malaga.
Roig presents the airline's plans for Malaga. Ñito Salas

During the centenary celebrations, Roig listed the key milestones of the company, for which he considers the Finnish community of Los Pacos in Fuengirola to be key. He also recalled the first flight, a German single-engine Junkers F-13, which landed from the port of Helsinki on 20 March 1924.It transported 162 kilos of mail between the Finnish capital and the Estonian capital, Tallinn. Neither city had an airport yet, so the Junkers used the waters of their harbours to serve a handful of passengers and, above all, to transport postal items. Mail was the business that gave meaning to air transport in its origins, he pointed out, noting that in that first year of activity, with planes with a capacity for four passengers, they moved 300, compared to the 12 million in 2023 with.

"Malaga has a name in Finland"

With the resounding affirmation that "Malaga has a name in Finland", Roig justified the 17% increase in air capacity on the Costa del Sol this year, as opposed to the decision to maintain air capacity in Madrid and Barcelona, as well as in Alicante and Palma de Mallorca during the high season.

In the story of these 100 years of history there is an important moment: the entry into the Spanish market. It happened on 4 April 1964 and that first flight landed in Barcelona as an intermediate stop on a journey between Helsinki and Malaga carrying sun-seeking Finns.

By that date, what is now the sixth oldest active airline in the world, had already merged with the Finnish airline Karkumaki Airways (Kar Air) and had acquired the first SudSE.210 Caravelle 10B3 type aircraft, advanced for its time, which the airline called the SuperCaravelle. An aircraft that opened up new horizons to reach new European conquests such as Milan, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Copenhagen.

Love affair with the Costa del Sol

By then, the Costa del Sol had already begun a strong love affair with Finland since 1959, when the Finnish company Kar Air left Helsinki, with a stopover in Sweden, arriving in Malaga at midday with 48 passengers ready to enjoy their holidays. These ties have been consolidated and have meant that in Fuengirola there is a colony of 8,000 Finns, who even have a school with the educational curriculum of the Scandinavian country.

Now, Roig has highlighted the importance of Malaga in the network of Spanish airports and has not hesitated to point out that it occupies the first position with an operation of 11 flights a week for this high season, which will be reduced to ten in winter.

In addition to pointing to a 17% growth in capacity compared to 2019, he said the commitment is to increase daytime flights with the aim of growing in demand from Malaga. "70% of the tickets are sold in Finland, 20% in Malaga and the rest are stopover travellers to cities in Asia or India where we have a great schedule. We want to increase the share of Malaga residents who can enjoy the Finnish summer, which is an oasis of cool temperatures in which to take refuge from the heat," he said, pointing out the second most purchased destination since the beginning of the year is Japan, a country to which they fly to Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, at the end of this month. In Helsinki they have a hub that connects this country with some of the main Asian capitals, such as Delhi, Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok and Seoul, as well as New York and Los Angeles, among other destinations in the United States.

Roig pointed out the potential of the Costa del Sol and the great attraction it has become for the Finns, assuring "they adore everything the destination has to offer and its way of life, the only thing they don't share is the late lunchtime for them".

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