Air Italy just proved that there is a still a role for middlemen in the aircraft leasing business.
Last month, a Finnair A330-300 (registration # OH-LTS) was clipped by a high loader (those vehicles that load baggage or catering onboard) at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. That took the aircraft out of service, where it has been parked since September 25th.
In order to avoid further service disruptions, Finnair has wet-leased an A330-200 from Air Italy to operate its Chicago and Miami routes. From October 12th-31st, the Air Italy aircraft will operate 4x weekly flights to Chicago and a total of five round-trips to Miami. Air Italy crew will staff the flight along with two language-qualified FAs from Finnair.
The shift from an A330-300 to A330-200 represents a slight downgrade in capacity for Finnair. Air Italy’s A330-200 offer a total of 260 seats (24 business / 236 economy), while Finnair’s A330s have 289 seats in a three-cabin configuration (32 business /40 economy comfort / 217 economy).
Finnair COO Jaakko Schildt told Air Transport World:
The aircraft damage in Chicago was very unfortunate. With a high-quality wet-lease from Air Italy, we can continue operating our Chicago and Miami flights regardless of the aircraft change.
It’s a tad ironic that a Qatar Airways planes leased to Air Italy will now be used by Finnair, even as Qatar Airways experiences an aircraft shortage. Is this a downgrade or upgrade for Finnair passengers? Frankly, economy class passengers probably won’t notice much of a difference. Business class passengers, however, move from a horizontal lie-flat seat (like Iberia) to an angled lie-flat seat (like on EgyptAir). That would not make me happy…
image: lasta29 / Wikimedia Commons