I would love to see more flights to the Middle East and North America. Also, I'm really looking forward to this year if Finnair will grow this year more than last year.
HEL is certainly very well located to serve as a hub between Middle East and North America, as well as South Asia and North America. Another advantage is the good infrastructure: there is a lot of landing slots and gate space around noon time.
AY does, however face major challenges:
- ARN, OSL, LED, RIX, TLL etc are almost as well located, for some routes even better, though each of them has limitations, some of which rather serious
- O/D traffic is almost non-existent, so it relies on transfer passengers (only near Europe makes sense as short haul feed)
- these are very low yield destinations and AY is not the most cost efficient for the masses, neither most luxurious for the princes
- the scheduling is complicated, as neither direction fits well on 24 h rotation. The average flight times to ME are between 4 and 6 hours, India between 7 and 9 hours, NA between 8 and 11 hours, and they vary even more with bad weather or political deroutes. Arrivals/departures from ME might be at deepest night: is that possible? No doubt that price sensitive passengers will tolerate several hours in HEL, business travellers maybe not.
- need new hardware and new pilots, so takes years (existing narrow-bodies are usable for ME destinations. For Northeast US and India need some MOMish airliner)
- huge risks as political turmoil may make routes inoperable