Finnair Cancels Flights To One Of The Places I Most Want To Visit

Last August I wrote about how Finnair was planning on launching seasonal flights between Helsinki, Finland, and Longyearbyen, Norway. The route was scheduled to operate 3x weekly between June 1 and August 28, 2016, using an Embraer E-190 aircraft.

HELLYR

For those of you not familiar, Longyearbyen is one of the northernmost cities in the world. Helsinki is already very far north, though Longyearbyen is significantly further up there. As a matter of fact, the Radisson Blu there is the northernmost full service hotel in the world.

Radisson_Blu_Longyearbyen

In summer there’s 24 hours a day of sunlight, while in winter there’s 24 hours a day of darkness. It’s a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time, and the Finnair flight seemed like a great opportunity to get there using miles, either through American AAdvantage or British Airways Executive Club.

Well, unfortunately it looks like Finnair has changed their mind, as they’ve just canceled their seasonal flight to Longyearbyen before it even launched. The flight was announced almost a year in advance, and they ended up canceling it just a few weeks before the anticipated launch date.

Apparently the reason for this cancellation is that the bi-lateral aviation agreement between Finland and Norway didn’t cover flights from Finland to Longyearbyen, so Finnair isn’t allowed to operate the route. How they only figured that out now is a bit puzzling. While they’re canceling this year’s service, it’s unclear if they’ll try to negotiate for the rights to operate the route in the future.

Now that Finnair has canceled flights to Longyearbyen, your options are to fly there on either SAS or Norwegian from Oslo or Tromso. I guess maybe I can plan a trip there in conjunction with a longhaul award ticket in SAS business class, which is one of the products I most want to review.

SAS-Business-Class

Had anyone booked the new Finnair flight between Helsinki and Longyearbyen?

Comments

  1. Lucky, time for your new new installment of trip reports. All the blogs are getting boring. The hobby is dying.

  2. Knew a Swede research scientist about 25 years ago who spent time on Svalbard, I loved hearing her stories of life at the top of the world. Though it’s not on my list to visit it sure would be interesting to see. Back in 2011 someone posted street views to Google Maps, catching the Norwegian Constitution Day ‘parade’:
    https://goo.gl/maps/7WpZgHffiox

    http://www.spitsbergen-svalbard.com/2015/05/27/may-17th-norwegian-constitution-day-is-also-celebrated-in-the-arctic.html

    I suppose if you’re going to visit you should do it when there’s an event!

  3. You accidentally wrote that there’s 24 hours of darkness in winer, instead of winter.

    Spelling Police

  4. Aw, that’s a shame! At least it’s not too tough to get there still, thankfully. Quick jaunt from much of Europe via SAS or Norwegian! Thinking about making a pit stop there for a few days this summer…

  5. I hadn’t booked THIS flight, but I just booked HEL – BKK / HKG – HEL in August flying the A350 both ways, in business class. Got a great deal out of YUL that connects with British via LHR, which comes out roughly to 2600 USD for all 6 segments (YUL-LHR-HEL-BKK//HKG-HEL-LHR-YUL).

    Looking forward to the A350, and how it compares to your Finnair A350 TATL experience, Lucky!

  6. I would highly recommend a trip to Longyearbyen. I spent three days there with my mom in February and we had a great time. It was just at the end of the polar night period, but we had some daylight around noon to explore some of the nearby areas.
    We flew SAS from Oslo and stayed at the Radisson Blu, which just underwent some renovation in the guest rooms. If you need any tips, just let me know!

  7. There are flights from both Tromsø and Oslo to Longyearbyen, should still be fairly easy to get there. Maybe combine it with one of those tests of SAS C that you have promised us? 😉

    Would highly recommend a visit to Tromsø as well. Tromsø is often referred to as the “Paris of the north”, it’s beautiful here.

  8. Please do this trip, I share your desire to go to Longyearbyen however I don’t share your ability to do it!

  9. As others have pointed out – the Norwegian government announced Finnair would not be allowed to fly to Svalbard according to the agreement signed in 1976!! Finnair cancelled one day later, even though the Norwegians gave them 2 weeks to “appeal”. It smells like protectionism in ensuring SAS and Norwegian (both linked to Norway) are the only Nordic companies to fly to Svalbard.

    Funnily, the local businesses *wanted* Finnair to fly there to increase their sales potential, so it sort of backfired either way.

  10. Just to add on the legal situation: Air traffic between Finland (the EU in general) and mainland Norway is governed by the treaties to create the European Economic Area (EEA), amongst which there is one on civil aviation, granting traffic rights liberally. Now the trouble is that Svalbard – although a part of the Kingdom of Norway – is not part of the EEA and therefore this treaty is not applicable. This is why the legacy bilateral treaty from 1976 kicks back in – and, as it appears, this treaty is not granting any traffic rights to Svalbard.

    So bottom line, establishing a route from Finland to Svalbard requires the negotiation of a new bilateral treaty between the two countries, I’m afraid. There’s not much AY can do about this, other than asking the Finnish authorities politely to do so. Now there might be other things higher on the wish list, e.g. traffic rights to additional Asian destinations.

  11. Since you seem to be interested in travel in the far north, do you have plans to see the Northern Lights?
    That is on our bucket list and we are not sure the best place to go. Any input?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *