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Finnair Announces Substantial August 2021 Passenger, Cargo Growth

A Finnair Airbus A350 lifts off. (Photo: Airbus)

Finnair recently posted its August 2021 traffic results, indicating an improvement in passenger numbers and a solid month for cargo traffic. Passenger numbers increased to 266,500 last month, 38.1% growth compared to August 2020. Furthermore, the number of passengers grew by 24.5% compared to July 2021, showing significant improvement within the busy summer travel season.

During the month of August, Finnair operated 127 daily flights on average, including cargo-only operations. This represents an increase of 9.5% compared to last year’s figure and 19.8% more than July 2021. Overall capacity has increased even further with available seat kilometers increasing by 63.3% year-over-year and 17% month-over-month. The relatively larger increase in capacity is attributed to the use of larger aircraft and the longer average stage length of flights.

Meanwhile, overall traffic measured in revenue passenger kilometers — a measure of load compared to available seat kilometers —  grew by 64.6% year-over-year and 15.9% month-over-month. Passenger load factors, however, saw an increase of 0.3% year-over-year but a decrease of 0.4% month-over-month to 42.0%.

On a market-by-market basis, capacity in Asia grew 7.4% year-over-year. That compared less favorably to 28.8% growth in Europe and 100.0% in North America compared to August 2020. Domestic capacity, which has recovered most compared to pre-pandemic levels, rose only 0.4% versus a year prior.

Traffic in Asia decreased by 12.9% but increased 53.6% in Europe, 14.4% domestically and 100.0% in North America. Passenger load factors remained lowest in Asia followed by North America, Europe and domestic flights at 19.7%, 28.3%, 63.0% and 71.6%, respectively. The impact of travel restrictions from Covid-19 has particularly affected passenger traffic numbers especially to destinations in North America and Asia, outside of the European Union. Nevertheless, although flights to Asia represented the lowest load factors, they were offset by the strong demand in cargo operations and as a result high cargo load factors.

Strength in Cargo

During the pandemic, the demand for cargo flights has significantly increased as the number of passenger flights able to carry belly cargo all but dropped to zero. Airlines have therefore increased cargo capacity in order to meet demand by either converting passenger aircraft to cargo — which Lufthansa has done — or increasing dedicated cargo fleets — like LATAM — while carriers such as Finnair have simply used their larger aircraft for dedicated cargo flights.

Finnair saw a year-on-year increase of 127.7% of available schedule cargo tonne kilometers and an increase of 7.0% month-over-month, while revenue scheduled cargo tonne kilometers increased by 99.2% year-over-year or 0.2% month-over-month. The sharp growth in traffic exclusively on a year-over-year basis resulted from the introduction of scheduled traffic to North America in 2021, where the airline did not fly in August 2020.

Available tonne kilometers increased 81.9% while revenue tonne kilometers increased by 70.5% year-over-year. While ATK and RTKs increased 1.1% and 5.5% month-over-month. The largest amount of cargo by weight was carried to Asia followed by North America, Europe and domestic flights.

As a result of the steady introduction of more scheduled flights and therefore belly cargo, during the month of August, cargo-only tonnes down by 19.2% on a month-over-month basis compared to the 11.1% increase year-over-year.

Matteo Giardini


  • Matteo Giardini

    Originally from Italy, Matteo has spent the majority of his life living in Asia. He had his first flight when he was less than a year old on an MD-11 from Milan Malpensa to Osaka Kansai. When he was younger, airplanes would fly over his school on their way to Shanghai Pudong International Airport and he would spend much of his recess time plane-spotting. Today he is continuing with his passion for aviation and is now finishing his Master in Air Transport Management at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom.

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