Finnair may have just two full-time staff in Australia, and no direct flights into or out of the country, but the Finnish flag-carrier is keen to boost its share of Australia’s business travel market.
Geoff Stone, Finnair’s newly-minted Country Sales Manager for Australia, tells Australian Business Traveller he “hopes to double our numbers, in terms of the corporate sector, out of Australia.”
Without its own planes parked at Australian airports – something which Stone says the airline has no plans to change – Finnair relies on oneworld partners such as Qantas and Cathay Pacific to get its passengers to the Asian hubs of Hong Kong, Bangkok and, as of June, Singapore, from which they can board Finnair flights to Helsinki.
"One of the advantages we have is geography: when you're coming from Asia to Europe, the first company you fly across in Europe is Finland" Stone explains. "Geographically-speaking, nobody can beat us."
Part of Stone's push for a larger slice of the business travel market will be to promote the benefits of flying into Helsinki, and then connecting onwards to other European cities, rather than going all the way through to Heathrow only to jet back across the Channel.
Also on the menu: raising awareness of Finnair's cost-effective ‘combo’ fares. These pair economy flights between Australia and Asia, on Qantas and Cathay Pacific, with travel in Finnair business class on the European leg to and from Helsinki.
"These combo fares are very cost effective and they compete well against premium economy fares" Stone says.
There's even a watered-down combo fare variation where just one of the two European legs is in business class – typically the flight into Europe, before your business begins.
Stone also wants to establish "a dedicated portal" for corporate customers on the Finnair website. "Our traditional model is working through agents but we want to move into a more digital framework" he says. "A lot of small businesses don't necessarily engage a travel agency, so this will appeal to those companies that we don't have the resources to visit or who are not booking their business through conventional channels."