Flybe Nordic (formerly Finnish Commuter Airlines Oy, which was trading as Finncomm Airlines) is a regional airline based at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. In Jul-2011, Europe's largest regional airline, Flybe, announced the acquisition of Finnish Commuter Airlines under a newly formed 60:40 joint venture with Finnair, for a total consideration of GBP25 million plus net cash in the acquired business at completion. Flybe Nordic is Finland's largest domestic airline by operations, handling around 900,000 passengers per annum in the Finnish domestic and Nordic and Baltic regional markets.
Location of Flybe Nordic main hub (Helsinki-Vantaa Airport)
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airBaltic’s restructuring plan fittingly dubbed 'ReShape' is in full swing now, but the loss-making Latvian national carrier is facing increasing competition from its northern counterpart Estonian Air, which is copying airBaltic’s model. The tactic is not surprising as Estonian Air’s president and CEO Tero Taskila was airBaltic’s former CCO and helped implement the carrier’s shift from point-to-point operator to a network airline based around feeding transfer traffic between Western Europe and markets in Eastern Europe, the Nordic region, Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Middle East.
Ironically, airBaltic is currently moving away from a stringent focus on transfer traffic over its “North Hub Riga” at Riga International Airport to a more point-to-point approach as part of its drive to return to profitability and build a sustainable long-term business. Too much transfer traffic and a testing public dispute between the airline’s two main shareholders, which resulted in a decline in customer loyalty, brought airBaltic uncomfortably close to bankruptcy last year.
Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, announced that it recorded strong gains in revenue and passenger numbers in its fiscal first quarter (Apr-2011 to Jun-2011) and expects to post an annual profit compared to last year's loss. The regional LCC also stated it has made “excellent” progress on its strategic growth plans, with the acquisition of Finncomm Airlines in the quarter. But investors are not fully comfortable with the carrier's plans, selling the stock down since its listing at the end of last year.
A record number of new routes from Finland to destinations in Europe have commenced as part of the summer 2011 season, driven by an increased LCC offering. As Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos stated last month upon the opening of a base in Helsinki, “the boom of low-cost flights is especially apparent in central Europe and in several Nordic countries. The structural changes to air traffic in Finland are only just beginning”.
Finnair has confirmed plans to increase its domestic and international feeder traffic network in cooperation with the UK’s LCC-cum-regional airline Flybe. Cooperation will be on various Finnish domestic routes including those to Tampere and Turku; also to Tallinn in Estonia. The cooperation will commence on 31-Oct-2010 using three “propeller-driven” aircraft (presumably Dash 8 Q400s) based at Helsinki Airport.
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