NEWS: Santa visits on, Finnair’s very limited long haul for winter & EU agrees to suspend slots rules for winter

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Santa visits and the Northern lights are on for 2020!

Visit Finland has announced that UK visitors will be allowed to enter Finland in time to search for Santa at the North Pole! However, it will take some dedication as you will need to do a short isolation before taking a second test if you are there for more than three days. This is the sort of model I would like to see the UK adopting. Finland is also a great place for the Northern Lights and it is currently on the UK travel corridor list. 

As of 23 November, leisure travel will also be possible from all EU and Schengen countries (including UK) with infection rates above 25 per 100 000 persons. However, travelers from these countries will need to have proof on arrival in Finland of a negative COVID-19 test result no older than 72 hours. On arrival in Finland, visitors from these countries are placed in quarantine for 72 hours after which they need to take a second test. After a second negative COVID-19 test result, the person can move around in Finland freely. If the visit to Finland lasts less than 72 hours, no quarantine or second test is required.

Finnish health authorities will review countries’ infection rates weekly. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s traffic light model show which countries it is possible to travel to Finland from.

Finnish health authorities may enforce mandatory COVID-19 testing and quarantines of 14 days on people arriving from travel-restricted countries if there is suspicion that they may have been subjected to the virus, for instance during their flight.


Finnair’s very limited long haul for winter

Finnair a350

Finnair announced last week that they were reducing their winter schedule substantially and they are still in the process of cancelling flights. If you have a flight booked with them, this means you should be able to move it or get a refund if it is cancelled.

“We want to maintain critical connections for Finland to European centres and to our most important Asian destinations, as travel is vital for the Finnish business community,” says Ole Orvér, Finnair’s Chief Commercial Officer. “However, as travel restrictions have a direct impact on demand, operating the traffic programme we published earlier is unfortunately not feasible.” 

Finnair will serve 42 destinations in October, but frequencies will be reduced on almost all routes. Route starts planned for October to destinations like Bergen, Barcelona, Madrid, St. Petersburg and Stuttgart will be postponed, as well as domestic destinations, Turku and Tampere. 

So far they have only specifically announced September and October schedules.  As of yesterday, the planned long haul operation for the period of 20 September 20 – 24 October 20 is as follows:

Helsinki – Bangkok 4 weekly
Helsinki – Hong Kong
2 weekly
Helsinki – Nanjing 1 weekly
Helsinki – Seoul Incheon 3 weekly
Helsinki – Shanghai Pu Dong 1 weekly
Helsinki – Singapore 2 weekly until 30SEP20
Helsinki – Tokyo Narita 3 weekly

From the UK Finnair are planning to reduce services to Helsinki from 27 to 14-15 weekly. BA recently abandoned the route meaning that Finnair have a monopoly from Heathrow and very high prices to match!


EU agrees to suspend slots rules for winter

We have written a number of times about the EU 80/20 use it or lose it rule for slots at major airports. It is an important ruling as if airlines are forced to fly routes to keep slots, they are less likely to cancel flights. The EU Comission originally gave airlines a waiver to not have to comply with the slot rules over the summer schedules due to coronavirus. The European Commission has announced it will extend the waiver until March next year.

The waiver conditions will be applied immediately on a voluntary basis. These conditions were agreed by airlines and include airlines that do not intend to utilise their slots should inform coordinators as soon as their plans are known so those slots can be reallocated where possible. In addition, carriers that suspend operations at an airport will be required to return the slots they’ve been given for the winter season. Wizz Air had been campaigning to enforce slots as they had been trying to acquire slots at Heathrow but were unable to even though airlines were not using them. 

“In this context, the lack of certainty over slots makes it difficult for airlines to plan their schedules, making planning difficult for airports and passengers.” said European commissioner for transport, Adina Valean.

The next step will be for the EU Commission to consult the public and stakeholders on how the industry will return to a normal slot regime once air traffic returns to a more stable level. Proposals are expected before the end of the year.


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