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Finnair says Airbus A350 could reach Asia skirting Russia

Finnish airline Finnair said on Wednesday (Aug 13) that the Airbus A350 could skirt Russia in its Europe-Asia routes if Moscow carries out a threat to close its airspace to European flights.

HELSINKI: Finnish airline Finnair said on Wednesday (Aug 13) that the Airbus A350 could skirt Russia in its Europe-Asia routes if Moscow carries out a threat to close its airspace to European flights.

"The additional freight capacity of this airplane makes me think that it has the reach, that it's technically possible," Finnair chief executive Pekka Vauramo said at a press conference in Helsinki.

Finnair presented the A350 XWB after one of the new European aircraft landed in Helsinki on Tuesday evening.

The Finnish company, which has ordered 11 planes, will be the first European airline to operate the A350 XWB. The first delivery is expected in late 2015.

In response to the economic sanctions from the West, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev threatened on August 7 to prevent airlines with routes between Europe and Asia from flying across Russian airspace in Siberia, which is the shortest distance.

Vauramo said he was unsure of the seriousness of the threat. "I don't want to speculate about Russia ... We know too little about it," he said.

Finnair relies heavily on Asia for its future plans. According to Vauramo, the strategy is to "double the revenue coming from Asian traffic by around 2020" compared to 2010.

The Finnish airline plans to have 46 spacious seats in business class and touch screens in all economy class seats. According to the Finnish interior designer in charge of the first aircraft, Vertti Kivi, the A350 will feature a "dynamic lighting, with a colour and atmosphere that matches the time, the destination and the season".

"The extra-large cabin permits to offer the passengers extra comfort," Airbus spokesman Mike Bausor said.

In order to stay in profit, Finnair is trying to cut costs, which remain high compared to the competition. The company has tried for several months to reach an agreement with its staff to lower salaries, but the efforts have so far proved fruitless.

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