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   Vol. 22 No. 44
Friday December 15, 2023

Finnair At 100

Leif lundstrom, Eero Ahola, Vinnie Pannullo, Leevi Ekman, Kari Tikkanen, Erik Byman

     Finnair, founded 100 years ago on November 1, 1923, and branded Aero OY, started operations with a single Junkers 13 aircraft.
     But for us, Finnair began 52 years ago at JFK International, when Vinnie Pannullo was the AY cargo guy. Later Kari Tikkanen came into the picture and carried Finnair Cargo for close to 20 years into modern times.
Pasi Nopanen     At Finnair in HEL, Eero Ahola was a grand master of the cargo form and was both a great man and a good friend as was Leif Lundstrom. Along the way Erik Byman, Leevi Ekman, Pertti Mero and Pasi Nopanen (left) opened doors everywhere.
     After the big thaw in Russia, as the Berlin Wall fell, Finnair had the ticket to discover a brave new world.
     The atmosphere was electric, including travel from Helsinki to the former Soviet Union by air or bus via Vyborg (Little Helsinki) and across the water to Tallinn where Skype was founded, and elsewhere in the emerging Baltic States.
Helsinki to Tallinn and onto Moscow and beyond—the early 1990s still shimmer in memory as a thrilling journey to adventure and discovery.
     TransRussia, a trade show held in Moscow at the VVR every year was always a particularly enlightening experience.
     The road into Moscow from the airport had some steel barricades in the center of the highway and a small marker in Russian recalling the furthest penetration into Russia by the Germans in WW II, the spires of the Kremlin faintly visible off in the distance.
     The cannons Napoleon left in retreat from Moscow were still on sentry duty at an entrance to the Kremlin.
     The salmon-colored home of Chekhov in Moscow, all remain wonderful memories.
     I particularly recall the breathtaking afternoons that turned into evenings at The Seurasaari Open Air Museum in the middle of Helsinki, reached by walking across a fretted white bridge, where homes and artifacts and boats from Lapland and other locations in Finland, some hundreds of years old have been carefully brought and preserved forever.
     Finland also produced Eero Saarinen who designed The Jefferson Arch in St. Louis and, of course the TWA Terminal at JFK International, which is now a hotel.
     In 1939, Finnair was on display at The New York World's Fair promoting planned scheduled services for 1940 from Helsinki to New York City via four-engined, high-flying Focke-Wulf 200 Condor passenger aircraft.
     In 1938, an FW-200 flew nonstop from Berlin to New York City scaring the hell out of Pan Am, which was at that time operating big lumbering Boeing B314 flying boats across the pond.
     Minus the world at war, Finnair would have been flying non-stop, HEL-LGA in 1940!
Gabriela Hiitola, Anna-Maria Kirchner     Today in a tough business climate as others, more notably SAS, fall by the wayside, Finnair Cargo offers fast, high-quality transport between Asia, Europe and North America through its Helsinki hub.
     “Finnair Cargo specializes in temperature-controlled cargo, such as pharmaceuticals as well as seafood and other perishables,” said Gabriela Hiitola the first female leader of Finnair Cargo.
     Finnair Cargo moves pharmaceuticals as well as the aforementioned perishables through its state-of-the-art COOL Nordic Cargo Hub at Helsinki Airport using modern technology and data monitoring systems to radically improve transparency and efficiency of air cargo shipping.
     This year, yet another dynamic distaff business leader joined the team when Anna-Maria Kirchner was appointed Head of Global Sales on September 15.
     So happy Centennial birthday, Finnair, and heartfelt thanks for the memories.
     May you always continue as a genuine treasure of an airline, not only for your accomplishments, but also for your inspirational independence and style.

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