UPDATE: IAG and Finnair launch Luton-Helsinki freighter partnership

Finnair Cargo and IAG Cargo have signed a freighter deal that will see the two airlines share space on a new DHL flight between London Luton and Helsinki.
The new route will be operated by a DHL Airbus 300-600 cargo freighter, with a 43 ton capacity, and open up new destinations to Finnair in North America by creating a new hub at the London airport.
Antti Kuusenmäki, VP, head of Finnair Cargo, said: "We are happy to announce the opening of our third hub in London, which is continuing the home market expansion we successfully started by establishing the Brussels hub three years ago.
“This partnership with IAG Cargo offers our customers considerably improved connections between Asia and the UK, and adds tens of new great connections between our Nordic home market, North America and Asia."
When asked why it decided to take space on the service in partnership with IAG and not alone, a Finnair spokesperson said: "This new freighter service that we share with IAG is tailor made for Finnair and IAG needs in terms of timetables, frequency and capacity, and it effectively connects our cargo network with IAG network.
"Finnair gets tens of new destinations to North America, and IAG gets new destinations in Asia from Finnair network. We also get a third cargo hub in Europe, and thus can enlarge our catchment area."
There will also be an IAG truck shuttle service running between Luton and Heathrow.
The Finnish airline has been looking to expand its cargo volumes as it prepares for an increase in capacity in the coming years.
In total, the airline has 19 Airbus A350 XWB aircraft on order which will offer an additional capacity per plane of 16-20%.
The new aircraft will increase the airline’s total cargo capacity by 50% when delivery is complete in 2020. It will receive the first of the planes later this year.
It also operates freighter flights between Brussels and Helsinki as it uses the planes to feed cargo to and from its main hub.
IAG said this was the second freighter deal it had signed, with Qatar being its first, since it moved to its "pioneering outsourced capacity model" in May 2014, whereby it grows its network by working in partnership with key carriers
IAG Cargo chief executive Steve Gunning said: “With Finnair’s excellent reach into Asia and our strength in the Americas, this deal will open up new markets for our customers while supporting the responsible management of capacity on our network.
"We have once again expanded our network through an asset-light solution and provided our customers with access to an even greater range of destinations."
In February, Finnair Cargo joined IAG Cargo’s Partner Plus enhanced interline cooperation programme.
Partners in the scheme enjoy confirmed bookings and higher priority for loading with IAG Cargo, the freight arm of British Airways and Iberia.
Other members of the scheme are Qatar Airways, Japan Airlines, the Avianca group and American Airline.
IAG said the deal would supplement Finnairs’ seven and IAG Cargos’ two daily narrow-body services between London Heathrow and Helsinki.

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