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Via Helsinki ­ The fastest route to Asia The fact that the world is round gives Helsinki an advantage that's the envy of many. The Finnish capital offers the quickest route to the other side of the world. TEXT BY JOHANNA AATSALO-SALLINEN BASED AT HELSINKI-VANTAA AIRPORT, Finnair has expanded to become Northern Europe's leading airline for transport to and from Asia. No wonder, as Finnair has concentrated heavily on the efficiency of rapid Asian routes. Helsinki-Vantaa is an ideal-sized airport, where flight transfers are designed for very sensibly. Finnair, meanwhile, is known as a punctual air carrier. Thanks to this equation, traffic flows in various directions can be meticulously thought out. "For example, the Asian flights' onward connections to and from various points in Europe have been scheduled to be very smooth and passenger-friendly. When European flights arrive, Asian flights take off and vice versa," explains Finnair product manager Mikko Tolonen. For passengers, Finnair flights to Asia proceed in a logistically sensible way. With Finnair, travellers departing from European destinations for Asia can head immediately in the right northerly direction rather than flying in the wrong direction ­ south, east or west ­ before commencing their journey. "For connecting flights, Finnair's fleet is among Europe's newest and most fuel-efficient, so that flights to Helsinki are pleasant on narrowbody Airbus A319, A320 and A321 planes or Embraer jets with a capacity of 76 to 100 seats," says Tolonen. The Asian routes from Helsinki have also been carefully planned in environmental terms. Finnair's long-haul fleet is being overhauled so that by 2010 all Asian routes will be flown on energy-efficient widebody Airbus A330 and A340 planes. So far, five of the 11 aircraft in the Asian fleet are modern A340 planes. "These aircraft are very fuel efficient. Flying to Asia with these on the shortest possible route with one stop, we can operate lighter planes and thus save even more fuel. In other words, we can fly to Asia using lighter aircraft because the distance is shorter from Helsinki than from, say, Paris," explains Tolonen. Travel times to the other side of the globe are surprisingly short. For example, from Oslo via Helsinki to Mumbai, India, takes just over ten hours, while you can get from Berlin to Seoul in about 13 hours and from Madrid to Hong Kong in 15 hours. "You can compare flight durations, distances and emissions on the www.viahelsinki.com website. The site includes links to enquire about or reserve Finnair flights," he adds. Asian flights are a quick way to earn Finnair Plus points, for instance, which can be used according to one's own needs. Members can choose from flight, hotel and car rental awards. Also travel class upgrades are available on scheduled Finnair flights. And keep in mind that points can be earned and burned on flights on all oneworld alliance carrier flights. 80 BLUE WINGS JANUARY 2009 Finavia/Parviainen Arkkitehdit Oy

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