With Viasat service recently launched on Finnair aircraft within Europe, we took a few moments to ask Harri Valkama what this meant for the airline. Valkama is the manager of in-flight e-commerce at Finnair.
What drove the decision to install and enable Wi-Fi on Finnair narrow-body aircraft for flights within Europe?
We have had Wi-Fi onboard our long-haul flights for a while now so it was only natural that we provide it on our European flights as well. Customers are also expecting this kind of service nowadays, and we naturally want them to have the best possible onboard experience with us. For us, it’s important to expand our digital customer coverage to European routes to engage our customers with us and our digital services throughout their journey.
Why did you choose Viasat?
We want to offer the best experience for our customers, and Viasat’s service is the best in the market. Viasat also convinced us that they can support our open platform inflight ecosystem and its development. The fact that Viasat’s way of working is very agile, and that they are always willing to try out new things, goes along very well with our philosophy.
What is the expectation for in-flight connectivity for European and Scandinavian travelers?
Internet connectivity is a key part of any travel, so it’s only natural that we want to have the same possibilities onboard as we’re accustomed to on ground. And that means for both entertainment and work purposes. We are happy to be able offer the best in market service for customers on our European flights, and look forward to getting the customer feedback on the service.
How does this service play into Finnair’s ability to serve Asian travelers?
We are a network carrier with emphasis on flights between Asia and Europe. That means we have a lot of Asian travelers aboard our European flights. It has been already possible to use Wi-Fi on our long-haul flights for a long time now, and now we can offer this on their connecting flights as well. Connectivity on European flights also enables Alipay payments onboard, which is popular in Asia.
Finnair created its own Nordic Sky portal for passengers to access the internet. Tell us a little about Nordic Sky and what it offers?
Nordic Sky is our complementary portal, which you can access on all of our flights that include Wi-Fi. Customers can access the portal with their own device from gate to gate, and it’s available even offline. For example, in Nordic Sky you can find destination and route information, do some shopping, chat with our customer service or read the latest digital newspapers and magazines. Customers can also purchase or redeem their internet connection through the Nordic Sky portal.
How important is the ability to stream video to your passengers?
Many people subscribe to different streaming services, which opens a new world of in-flight entertainment onboard. Not all of our narrow-body aircraft have an inflight entertainment system, but now all customers can access our digital newspapers via the Nordic Sky portal, or use streaming services to watch movies and TV programs. This brings the entertainment to a whole new level on our European flights.
Does good IFC allow Finnair to offer more goods and services in the air? How does that help the airline and your passengers?
Good IFC opens doors for new services that we are developing for our customers onboard. With increased bandwidth, customers can do what they like and not think about limited connection speed onboard. The same goes for the crew, as we can utilize the connection for our internal processes.
How does providing good Wi-Fi to Finnair passenger help position the airline among your competitors?
We aim to offer the best possible customer experience onboard — a unique Nordic experience, as we put it. I think it’s very Nordic that we want to offer a service that works smoothly, which is why we have chosen the best-in-market service by Viasat – we want to deliver what we promise.
What do you hope or expect the reaction of passengers will be to Viasat in-flight Wi-Fi?
We believe our customers will enjoy the service and be happy with it. We will use the summer months to do final testing with our customers to ensure we understand better how our customers want to use our service. This will also help us understand exactly where the gaps in the service are, as there are some restrictions.