Helsinki-Ljubljana Route Shows Promise
On 6th April 2007, Finnair, one of the world's oldest airlines, launched a regular direct service between Helsinki and Ljubljana. Flying a modern 100-seat Embraer 190, the Finnish airline departs Helsinki four times a week - on Thursday and Friday at 9.55 am and Sunday and Monday at 5.15 pm, and the return flights leave Ljubljana's Brnik airport at 12.10 pm on Thursday and Friday and at 7.30 pm on Sunday and Monday. This has been a major acquisition for Slovenia, as there has not been a direct service between the two countries since the 1980's.
According to Jani Peuhkurinen, Finnair's sales manager, the new route is expected to carry around 25,000 passengers a year based on a 65% occupancy rate. "The start of our non-stop service between Ljubljana and Helsinki has been quite promising and we are very pleased with our summer booking situation. However, one needs to keep in mind that this is a completely new service that has only been operational for two months; therefore, we can not predict what the longer-term trend will be just yet," he said.
The passenger structure
As this is now the start of the summer season, the majority of passengers on the new route are travelling purely for leisure. "Ljubljana is a highly-popular, leisure travel destination, especially for Finns; therefore, there are a plenty of holiday groups using the route. Although there has been plenty of interest amongst Finnair's Asian passengers to continue on to Ljubljana, the majority of passengers are travelling solely between Finland and Slovenia," Peuhkurinen said. As Slovenia will shortly preside over the EU, there are also signs that business travel is beginning to increase. "We have noticed in the past that government and business travel increases on our routes servicing the EU presidency states and we expect the same will happen with Slovenia," Peuhkurinen concluded.
Finnair's home base, Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, is a major gateway used by nearly all airlines flying between Asia and Europe. Finnair, which operates over 60 flights a week to its ten destinations in Asia - Delhi, Bangkok, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Singapore, is set to launch another Asian service - to Mumbai, India - in June. The airline also flies to over 40 destinations in Europe and five new routes to Ljubljana, Bucharest, Gdansk, Nuremberg and Lisbon, have been launched this year.