Finnair shares continue to fall after the carrier warned the closure of Russian airspace would have a big impact on its operations.
On February 28, 2022, the Finnish flag carrier withdrew the financial and operational guidance it had provided for the first half of 2022 saying the possible closure of Russian airspace would have a significant impact. Later on February 28, 2022, Russia confirmed it was closing its airspace to 36 countries, including neighboring Finland.
Finnair’s core business is connecting European and Asian destinations via its hub in Helsinki, meaning its key routes all pass over Russian airspace. The longer routes needed to avoid Russia mean it will not be able to make money on many flights to Asia, the airline warned.
“We are implementing our contingency plan as the situation has a considerable impact on Finnair,” Topi Manner, Finnair CEO said in the statement. “Bypassing the Russian airspace lengthens flight times to Asia considerably and, thus, the operation of most our passenger and cargo flights to Asia is not economically sustainable or competitive”,
“The crisis in Ukraine touches all Europeans, and we understand the EU’s decision to close its airspace,” Manner added.
A comparison of flights between Helsinki (HEL) and Bangkok (BKK) shows the different routes. The flight time has increased from under 10 hours to over 11 hours.
Comparison of Finnair flight AY141 on February 23 (left) vs February 28, 2022. Courtesy of Flightradar24.com
Finnair’s shares plummeted 20% the day it made the announcement it was withdrawing financial guidance. On March 1, 2022, the company’s shares were down another 5%.
The guidance had been issued on February 17, 2022 when it reported 2021 results. At that time, Finnair had expressed optimism that the COVID-19 pandemic was in the end phase and said it was preparing for increasing demand in summer 2022.
Now Finnair is preparing new traffic and cost cuts in case the Ukraine situation lasts for a long time.
CEO Manner said the company still has a strong cash position and the support of its majority owner, the Finnish government.
“The company is considering different solutions in case the situation prolongs, and it has an active dialogue with the State of Finland,” Manner said.
The 36 states whose carriers are restricted from entering Russian airspace as of February 28, 2022 are:
Albania, Anguilla, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark (including Greenland, Faroe Islands, Territorial Sea), Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.