Finland’s national airline is precisely one year away from its centenary celebrations. The 99-year-old has not exactly had a quiet few years leading up to the big day. The global health crisis has been followed by war, a fuel crisis, and the closure of the oh-so-crucial to Finnair’s long-haul operations eastward Russian airspace. Meanwhile, the airline is looking forward to the events next year and is already preparing to meet its 100th anniversary in style.

Finnair was founded on November 1, 1923, which makes it the sixth-oldest carrier globally still in commercial operation. It was initially known as Aero O/Y, with the O/Y standing for Osake-yhtiö. To this day, the airline retains the code AY. It has grown from a modest beginning of four passenger float planes and carrying just 269 passengers in its first year of operations to being part of the oneworld alliance and operating a fleet of 80 planes carrying 14.65 million people in 2019.

It has also turned Helsinki into somewhat of a long-haul transit hub, offering travelers the “short route” between Europe and Asia. Of course, this has changed over the past year, but the airline recently reinstated a second Tokyo service despite the necessary detour south adding significant time and fuel costs to the route.

Andrew Fish, Finnair General Manager UK, Ireland & Benelux, said,

“We are extremely proud to be celebrating this major milestone in Finnair’s flying history. Finnair has established itself as one of Europe’s leading airlines offering excellent service to all our customers with our distinctive Nordic style flying them in comfort to key destinations across our route network. We look forward to celebrating our centenary with customers next year as we embark upon Finnair’s journey into the future.”

European launch customer of the A350

The Finnish flag carrier was also the first European airline to operate the Airbus A350-900, having taken delivery of the first in October 2015. It currently has 17 of the type and is expecting two more. The aircraft comprise the backbone of the airline’s long-haul fleet, which recently saw a massive €200 million ($198.8 million) investment in an enhanced customer experience and elevated long-haul product, including premium economy. Meanwhile, it also flies eight A330-300s.

Finnair’s jets are all Airbus coupled with a few Embraer. The narrowbody fleet is made up of six A319s, ten A320s, and 15 A321s, all current engine option models, plus 12 ERJ-190 regional jets. Meanwhile, Finnair also operates 12 ATR 72 turboprops.

Finnair Airbus A321

Photo: Getty Images

The airline will be busy over the coming 12 months preparing for its anniversary in 2023 (and trying to minimize financial losses due to geopolitical circumstances). We are sure it would wish for nothing as much as a slightly less eventful year to at least have the opportunity to get operations back to pre-pandemic levels. The reopening of China could be another wish, and, of course, like for all of us, peace in Ukraine. The airline says that plans for its 100th birthday are currently underway and that it will share details further down the road.

What are your memories and experiences of Finnair? How often have you traveled with the airline? Leave a comment below and share your stories.

  • Finnair Airbus A350-941


    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Helsinki Airport

    Year Founded:


    Topi Manner



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