Finnair restructures agency network

The Finnair Group’s subsidiaries Matkatoimisto Oy Area and Suomen Matkatoimisto Oy/Finland Travel Bureau (FTB) have agreed an arrangement in which Area will sell most of its street-level agencies to FTB.Area will further develop its travel management services for corporate customers. In terms of the provision of leisure travel for consumers, Area will focus in future on electronic service channels and telephone service. FTB, on the other hand, will be developed into a diverse travel department store, through a comprehensive sales office network, e-business and an expanded telephone service.

“The arrangement will improve both companies’ opportunities to concentrate on their core expertise. At the same time, the arrangement will allow us to remove overlapping functions in our distribution network. The measures now being implemented are part of an upheaval in the travel agency sector in which changes in consumer behaviour and the sector’s earnings logic require business models and distribution paths to be developed according to customers’ needs. Only a couple of years ago, travel agencies obtained their income from sales commissions paid by airlines and tour operators. Now they must earn a living from service fees paid by customers, i.e. travellers,” said Kaisa Vikkula, Finnair’s SVP Leisure and Travel Services.

In the arrangement, Area’s Jyväskylä, Kemi, Lahti, Rovaniemi, Seinäjoki and Vaasa travel agencies as well as its leisure travel agencies in Hämeenlinna, Oulu and Turku will be transferred to FTB. In addition, FTB will transfer its Etumatkat package tour business to Aurinkomatkat-Suntours. The concentration of operations should result in efficiency benefits. The business transfer of the agencies and operations in question will enter into effect on 1 July 2006 and will affect around 70 employees.

Matkatoimisto Area’s turnover in 2005 was 20.3 million euros. The company had 334 employees at the end of 2005. After the change on 1 July 2006, Area will still have business travel centres in Helsinki, Hämeenlinna, Tampere, Turku and Oulu, leisure travel agencies in Helsinki’s Lasipalatsi and in Tampere as well as a telephone service centre in Helsinki. Moreover, units specialised in pricing, the CIS & Baltic countries and state administration travel as well as group travel departments and leisure travel production will continue to operate at Area’s head office in Helsinki. Area has, in addition, a travel service point on the premises of three companies.