Finnair to Operate Helsinki – Sapporo Year-Round and Expand Other Routes to Japan Too

At the beginning of 2019, Finnair announced that it would be expanding its network of routes to Japan by adding a seasonal flight from Helsinki to Sapporo.

Before the first flight even took off, the airline has decided to change the plan and turn Sapporo into a year-round destination.

Finnair to Operate Helsinki - Sapporo Year-Round and Expand Other Routes to Japan Too
The Helsinki – Sapporo route will be operated using A330-300s.

AY65/66: Helsinki – Sapporo and Back

The new flights between Helsinki (HEL) and Sapporo (CTS) will operate for the first time on December 15, 2019, eastbound, and on December 16, 2019, westbound, and will run twice a week from then on.

During the winter schedule – until the end of March – the flights will operate as follows:

  • AY65 / HEL – CTS / 5:05PM – 9:05AM (Sun & Thu)
  • AY66 / CTS – HEL / 11:35AM – 2:10PM (Mon & Fri)

During the summer schedule – from April until October – the flights will operate as follows:

  • AY65 / HEL – CTS / 6:05PM – 9:05AM (Wed & Sun)
  • AY66 / CTS – HEL / 11:35AM – 3:10PM (Mon & Thu)

The one hour difference in departure time from and arrival time in Helsinki during the summer schedule is caused by daylight saving time being in effect in Finland.

Finnair will use its Airbus A330-300s on the route. More specifically, based on the currently loaded seat maps, premium-heavy aircraft – i.e. with 45 staggered business class seats and 218 economy class seats – will be used.

While Sapporo is well-connected with other parts of Japan and Asia, Finnair’s flight will be its first non-stop connection with Europe.

Finnair Airbus A330-300 Business Class
Finnair A330-300 business class.

Finnair’s Other Japan Route Changes

Sapporo will be Finnair’s fifth destination in Japan following year-round routes to Tokyo Narita, Osaka Kansai, and Nagoya, and a seasonal route to Fukuoka. Just like in the case of Sapporo, Finnair is the only airline offering a non-stop connection between Europe and Fukuoka.

With the new development, Christian Lesjak, Finnair’s Senior Vice President of Network and Resource Management said:

Japan is Finnair’s largest market outside our home market Finland, and with five key Japanese cities in our network, we are now the largest European airline flying to Japan.

Besides launching the Sapporo route this December, the airline will also launch flights between Helsinki and Tokyo Haneda in March 2020. Those will be operated in addition to its daily flight to Tokyo Narita (and instead of its seasonal second daily Narita frequency).

Finnair also plans to add two additional rotations a week on its Helsinki – Osaka route in summer 2020 for a total of up to 12 rotations a week during the busy season.

Finnair Japan - Europe
Finnair offers some of the most convenient connection between Europe and Japan.

Summary

While even a seasonal non-stop link with Europe would have been great for Sapporo, Finnair deciding to turn the route year-round marks an important milestone for the largest airport in Hokkaido.

The new flights will offer people in Sapporo a new one-stop way to get to many destinations in Europe and vice-versa. They will also provide travelers to Japan with additional open-jaw itinerary options, allowing them to arrive in Tokyo or Osaka, let’s say, and depart from Sapporo without having to travel back to one of the larger cities.

Adding the fact that Finnair will be launching flights to Tokyo Haneda and increasing its presence in Osaka, what is already one of the most convenient airlines for travel between Europe and Japan will become even more convenient.

If you are considering flying to Japan with Finnair, make sure to check my reviews of its A330 economy class, A350 business class, and intra-European economy class.

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