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travelnews Travel columns compiled and written by KATJA PANTZAR Seoul City FINNAIR launches direct flights to Seoul, the capital of South Korea, in June 2008. The five weekly flights will be operated with Finnair's new Airbus A340-300 long-haul aircraft. "This is a natural continuation of our Asian strategy," says Finnair Deputy CEO Henrik Arle. "Thanks to Finnair's growing European network we can offer our Asian passengers the shortest and quickest connections to most European capitals." Seoul is a metropolis of 10 million people that is transforming itself from the Yi Dynasty capital to a major mover on the international scene, especially in the fields of commerce and sport. With a population of 49 million people and a fast growing economy, the country is the tenth largest economic area in the world. Finnair will be the only airline to fly non-stop from South Korea to northern Europe. The majority of passengers are expected to be South Korean, especially during the summer season. The Seoul route will complement Finnair's constantly growing Asian network and support Helsinki's status as an important transfer point between Europe and Asia. Seoul, with its modern Incheon International Airport that is one of the largest Asian air traffic hubs, will be Finnair's eleventh Asian destination. Seoul's Secret Gardens at Changdeokgung Palace. Finnair's new mobile services IMAGINE you're in New York about to rush to the airport when you receive a text message letting you know that your flight to Helsinki will be departing two hours later than scheduled. You're secretly elated because the extra time means that you can drink your coffee and read the newspaper in peace. Finnair's new text message service makes this possible by sending information about flight delays and cancellations in Finnish or English to your mobile phone. "For customers this is an important service," says Finnair's Paavo Virkkunen. "It provides information about last-minute changes at the earliest possible stage so that customers can make changes to their own schedules." The new service sends out information about possible changes in the 48-hour lead up to a flight's departure. It's also possible to receive notification if your baggage has not arrived on the same flight as you have. Passengers on Finnair flights can take advantage of this services by providing their mobile phone number when reserving flights. Demand for Euro-Asian flights on the rise FLIGHTS to and from Bangkok will be doubled as of December 3rd, the start of the peak winter season. Flexible, non-stop connections with Finnair's Asian flights have attracted even more corporate and private customers from the Nordic region, as well as the rest of Europe. New flights to Delhi and Mumbai have gained noticeable interest. In Sweden, demand for Finnair's Asian traffic has Alex Brosa grown by 55 per cent over the previous year. "There are more than 200 flights a month from Helsinki to various Asian destinations," says Finnair's country manager in Sweden, Riku Helminen. "This is appealing to customers from both Stockholm and Gothenburg. The stopover in Helsinki is easy and the airport has been voted as one of the best in Europe in many annual surveys." Swedish state picks Finnair ­ once again THE SWEDISH State has renewed its agreement with Finnair for the transport of its personnel from Sweden to Asia and between Sweden and Finland. Finnair won the tender which covers official travel on Swedish state business for the current year up to the end of June 2008. Mumbai's Chowpatty Beach. Stephane Benito OCTOBER 2007 BLUE WINGS 15 Juergen Sack

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