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100 days before 100 years of Finnair

100 days before 100 years of Finnair

With Finnair’s 100th anniversary just 100 days away, the airline has shared its top 100 fascinating facts. These range from when the airline was founded to the ordering of new aircraft, when it first flew over the North Pole and even how many millions of litres of blueberry juice are served each year.

With just 100 days to go and Finnair gearing up for its centenary celebrations, the airline’s long history as the world’s sixth oldest carrier still operating, has served up some memorable firsts:


1.    Finnair was founded on 1 November 1923

2.    Finnair is the sixth oldest airline in the world still in operation


3.    Finnair was originally called Aero

4.    The airline’s code is AY which stands for Aero Osake-yhtiö (“yhtiö” means “company” in Finnish)

5.    The airline is the official flag carrier of Finland

6.    Finnair’s colour palette of blue and white is based on the Finnish national flag’s colours of blue and white

7.    During its first year of operation the airline carried a total of 269 passengers

8.    Aero - which became Finnair - received its first aircraft, a German-made Junkers F 13 in 1924

9.    The Finnair-operated Junker F 13 carried just four passengers, in addition to seating for the pilot and an engineer

10.  As there were no commercial airfields in Finland, the Junkers it flew were seaplanes, used skis in winter and floats in summer

11.  Finnair’s first flight was to Tallinn, Estonia in 1924, carrying 162 kilos of mail

12.  Half of the fleet was requisitioned by the Finnish Air Force and between 1939 and 1940, half the airline’s passengers from other Finnish cities were children being evacuated to Sweden

13.  During World War Two, Finnair was put under military control and only went back to commercial use in 1944

14.  In 1946, the Finnish State acquired a majority holding in the airline

15.  Aero started using the name Finnish Air Lines on its fleet livery in 1947

16.  In 1947 Aero recruited its first stewardesses, who flew on domestic routes from Helsinki to Kemi and Kuopio

17.  Finnair joined the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 1949

18.  Helsinki Airport officially opened in June 1952, and has been Finnair’s home ever since

19.  The Helsinki Olympic games in 1952 increased Aero’s passenger number to over 100,000 for the first time

20.  In 1953 Aero started using the name Finnair in 1953, even though it didn’t officially adopt the name until 1968

21.  Finnair’s first flight to London took place in 1954

22.  It became the first western airline to fly to Moscow, in 1956

23.  Aero became the first small airline to enter the jet age in 1960 with its new Caravelle passenger jets

24.  In 1961, Finnair joined the jet age by adding Rolls-Royce Avon-engined Caravelles to its fleet

25.  Finnair became the first airline in the world to operate a jet passenger aircraft with a Flight Crew of two, instead of the normal three

26.  Finnair’s Aviation Academy opened in 1964

27.  By 1967, 95% of Finnair’s scheduled flights were operated by jets

28.  In 1968 Finnair carried a million passengers for the first time in its history

29.  Finnair underwent its brand refresh in 1968 and launched the new brand logo which is recognisable today

30.  Finnair flights from Helsinki to New York via Copenhagen and Amsterdam began in May 1969

31.  Finnair received its first wide-body aircraft - DC-10s, which carried nearly 300 passengers in 1975

32.  Finnair started its expansion to Asia with direct flights to Bangkok in 1976

33.  The carrier launched its first trademark ‘shorter route’ service to Asia in 1976 with direct flights to Bangkok

34.  Finnair first flew over the North Pole in 1983

35.  Finnair was the first airline to operate non-stop flights between Western Europe and Japan when it started flying to Tokyo Narita airport in 1983

36.  Finnair becomes the official airline of Santa Claus in 1983

37.  Finnair was the first airline to acquire satellite telephones for its DC-10 aircraft in 1986, enabling passengers to call from the aircraft to anywhere in the world

38.  Finnair received its first Airbus aircraft in 1986

39.  Direct flights from Helsinki to Beijing began in 1988, making Finnair the first Western European airline to offer non-stop flights between Europe and China

40.  Finnair was the launch customer of the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 in 1989

41.  After years of negotiations Finnair was allowed to fly over Siberia, to Tokyo direct, cutting flight times by three hours in 1991

42.  The Finnair Plus program was introduced in 1992

43.  The first call in a satellite phone installed in Finnair’s fleet of MD-11 aircraft was made on flight AY1507 to Las Palmas

44.  Finnair launched flights to Osaka in 1995, becoming the airline’s second destination in Japan

45.  In 1995, Finnair’s launched its first website and in terms of content and scope, it was one of the most comprehensive in the world offered by any airline at the time

46.  Finnair’s collaboration with Moomin’s began in 1997

47.  Finnair joined the oneworld alliance 25 years ago in 1998

48.  In 1998 Finnair became the first airline in Europe to acquire defibrillators

49.  Finnair received its first Airbus A320 series aircraft in 1999

50.  All Finnair’s flights became non-smoking when smoking was finally prohibited on flights to Tokyo and Osaka in 1999

51.  Flights to Hong Kong first began in 2002

52.  Services to Shanghai began in 2003 and Finnair became the only Northern European airline, as well as the only oneworld airline to offer direct flights to China’s biggest city

53.  In 2004 Finnair introduced the world’s first mobile phone service enabling customers to check-in in advance for flights with a text message

54.  Finnair has operated flight AY 666 to HEL since 2006 which has flown numerous times on Friday 13th

55.  Finnair’s long-haul fleet modernisation was initiated in 2007 by ordering several new Airbus A330 and A340 wide-body aircraft to replace its MD-11 fleet

56.  In 2007 Finnair was the first airline to order the Airbus A350

57.  Finnair partnered with Angry Birds in 2011 to create the “longest ever flight of Angry Birds.”

58.  Since 2012, Finnish design-house Marimekko, became an integral part of the Finnair air travel experience, with their designs appearing on customer’s blankets and amenity kits

59.  Finnair celebrated the 90th anniversary of its maiden flight in 2014. By this time there was a Finnair aircraft flying somewhere in the world every hour of the year

60.  Finnair was the first European airline to operate the Airbus A350 XWB in 2015

61.  In 2017, Finnair increased its passenger numbers by over one million and flew almost 12 million passengers across its global network

62.  In 2018 Finnair introduced internet connectivity to its short-haul European flights

63.  In 2019, Finnair joins a Nordic led Initiative for Electric Aviation that supports the development of electric aviation

64.  In 2021, Finnair dismantled and recycled a 21-year-old A319 aircraft at Helsinki Airport - the first commercial airliner to be recycled in Finland

65.  In 2021, Finnair began flying from Stockholm-Arlanda to cater for increased leisure demand during the pandemic

66.  In February 2022, Finnair unveiled its $220 million investment with a new Business Class seat and its first ever Premium Economy cabin

67.  Before the closure of Russian airspace in February 2022 Finnair flew to more destinations in China and Japan than any other European airline

68.  In 2022 Finnair became the official Sponsors of the Finnish National Ice Hockey Team at the 2022 IIHF World Championship

69.  As part of its renewed strategy in 2022, Finnair launched new routes from Helsinki to Dallas and Seattle in the US

70.  Finnair opened routes from Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen to Doha in 2022, as part of its new partnership with Qatar Airways

71.  In 2023 Finnair led the way by removing inflight retail from its flights as part of their sustainability drive

72.  In 2023, Finnair teamed up with iconic Finnish footwear and apparel brand Karhu to design an exclusive sneaker for its ground and air crew

73.  To celebrate Finnair’s centenary, the airline has partnered with the Finnish postal service to create a special stamp

74.  Finnair has been named the ‘Best Airline in Northern Europe’ for 13 years running by Skytrax

75.  Finnair aims to be a carbon-neutral airline by the end of 2045

76.  Finnair’s Platinum Wing lounge at Helsinki Airport is one of the only airport lounges to offer a sauna

77.  Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala’s glassware, Ultima Thule, was introduced on Finnair’s New York route. The classic design is still being used today in Finnair Business Class

78.  The melting spring ice in northern Finland was the inspiration for the Iittala Ultima Thule line of textured glassware - available on Finnair flights

79.  Finnair has painted two of its aircraft with well-known characters from the Finnish cartoon characters The Moomins - Moomintroll and Snorkmaiden

80.  Finnair’s current Cabin Crew uniform is designed by the Finnish artist Ritva-Liisa Pohjalainen

81.  Currently, Finnair only faces direct competition on two of its long-haul routes - Shanghai and Tokyo Haneda

82.  Finnair serves a million litres of blueberry juice each year and has become Finnair’s signature onboard drink

83.  Finnair uses ambient light settings on their aircraft to recreate the Northern Lights for customers onboard

84.  During the pandemic Finnair sold its Business Class inflight meals in Finnish grocery stores

85.  Finnair is the only airline to offer fully-lie flat yet non-recline Business Class seats for long-haul flights

86.  Two Finnair aircraft - an Airbus A330 and A350 - were painted in Marimekko’s instantly recognisable and bold design

87.  Finnair has been consistently named as one of the world’s safest airlines

88.  The Finnish government owns a majority stake in Finnair

89.  Many of Finnair’s long-haul inflight dining options are a fusion of Nordic and Asian dishes

90.  Nordic Regional Airlines (Norra) is 40% owned by Finnair

91.  Finnair employs around 1,700 Cabin Crew and 900 Flight Crew, based in Finland

92.  Finnair repainted one of its Airbus A319’s into a ‘silver bird’ retro 1950s Convair livery as part of its 90th anniversary celebrations

93.  Finnair have a choir of staff named the Finnair Singers


94.  Finnair flies to 14 destinations within Finland

95.  Finnair has scheduled flights to 89 international destinations

96.  Finnair operates wide body aircraft on its short-haul European flights to London and Amsterdam

97.  During the pandemic, when aircraft were grounded, Finnair launched virtual reality flights to Lapland

98.  Finnair is part of the Transatlantic Joint Business with British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, American Airlines and Level

99.  Finnair currently operates a fleet of 79 short and long-haul aircraft

100. Finally, Finnair has a signature cocktail named Northern Blush.