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Stefan Wentjarvi, President & CEO, Blue1

Stefan Wentjarvi, President & CEO, Blue1

A regional operator can do many things that a big carrier can’t do but it is on a disadvantage too as a regional carrier doesn’t have a big network or the big connectivity a big carrier has.

» Interview | Sunday, February 5, 2012 • Air News Times

GQ: Blue 1 has been part of Star Alliance since 2004. How important is to be part of an alliance for a regional carrier like Blue1?

SW: Extremely important. I would say that the biggest benefit a regional carrier has is that it very quickly move and adapt depending on the society needs or the customer needs. So, if your customer needs indicate that they want to change and get scheduled flights. That’s impossible for a regional operator. A regional operator can do many things that a big carrier can’t do but it is on a disadvantage too as a regional carrier doesn’t have a big network or the big connectivity a big carrier has.

So in Blue1 for instance we say: well, we have adapted to local society, so we are integrated into local society but when a society needs bigger than what Blue1 can provide, then we become part of SAS and offer to our customers what this carrier is actually providing, that is a service to Europe and intercontinental flights as well but when that’s not enough then we bring to the table Star Alliance and no one is actually bigger than Star Alliance. So, actually if I am a regional carrier  and a member of Star Alliance, as a regional member of Star Alliance, as a full member but as a regional carrier, we actually can provide full scale operations, be big when we need to be big and small when we need to be small. So, that’s the whole scale.

 

GQ: Do you explore new code – shares with other members of Star Alliance?

SW: We are always looking to what kind of code – shares are beneficial for both parties and as you said it’s not a self – target, actually that is we are not interested in having as many code – share possible. We actually look for code – shares that will bring something to our customers. So, what we do is check where we should look and what are the connection points that actually bring the best connection for the customers. So, we add the value to our network portfolio. That’s very important.

 

GQ: You have a specific area that you focus on code – shares in Europe, mainly or you go also for long – haul destinations?

SW: Long – haul as well. As I said before we have to actually look to traffic streams that are in our market and see how to cover all these traffic streams. If we cannot cover them on our own, we need to find partners in Star Alliance.

 

GQ: You are already many years in Star Alliance. Have you quantified the results from your participation?

SW: I think in many aspects, it is difficult just to calculate moneywise, so, it is also something that you need to believe that being part of something bigger is something that will strengthen you in the local market. So, I assure you that we can calculate the benefits from the code – share and the cost of being members of Star Alliance. And that’s how we can calculate that it has been and it is a positive thing, but I would say, that’s not the reason why a carrier joins Star Alliance as a partner, The reason is that in the local market if your customer – corporate client - has a need  and can say “ok I will not travel with you” but then you can actually provide him with a whole Star Alliance network, you get the benefit also in the local market, so the benefit is much bigger and you can get it  simply through the code – share.

 

GQ: What are Blue1 future fleet plans?

SW: We will be having actually 9 aircraft. We have actually a potential to increase, but we are not going to do that at the moment. We are going to look how the 2012 is going to be and there is lot of uncertainty in the market, so I think that the right thing to do right now is to be cautious about the future.

 

GQ: 717 is not a new aircraft…

SW: We actually decided on 717, because we were looking into the market and thinking “what kind of traffic streams do we have in the market“? Finland is quite far away from many destinations in Europe so range is one issue, but on the other hand the biggest traffic volumes are volumes in Finland and Scandinavia. So when we looked at the frequencies, on how many frequencies we need to have at certain destinations and we found out that actually the best compromise to have in the market was having some 100 – 150 seat aircrafts. And I would like to remind you that the newest aircraft in the market right now is that size, it is actually the latest designed aircraft, it is the 717. The 717 is not in production anymore, so from that point of view we have to focus on some airlines that can have aircrafts in operation.

 

GQ: Your network is focused on the region.

SW 1: Yes, as you said if you look at traffic flows in the finnish market, the biggest traffic flows are actually between Finland and Scandinavia and primarily between Finland and Sweden and that’s because the companies in Finland and Sweden are well-connected. There are big companies like finance banking institutions and many in the telecom sector; mainly sectors that are linked together. So, there is a natural traffic flow in this market, so, regardless of whether you have a regional concept or a main European concept, the flows between Finland and Scandinavia are the biggest ones.

 

GQ: What is the percentage between business client and leisure client for Blue1?

SW: I could say I would contract to business, that means cooperate with clients that have a contract with us , is generating more and is almost 40% and on top of that you come to business traveler that cannot contract with it, are just both in the open market and to travel agents. So, you could say that moneywise it’s absolutely much more than 50% but in passenger orders let’s say 50% and that comes from this traffic flow between the customers cooperators, which are Swedish, Danish, Finnish joint companies. So, that is the flow we have.

 

GQ: You focus mainly on the point – to – point or do you want to have the hub or even feed the SAS e.g. network because you are a parent company?

SW: There are different feeder values. We are big feeder value providers for SAS Group in the finnish market, we are talking about hundreds of millions in Swedish crowns in feeder values and no doubt the most lucrative route is Helsinki – Copenhagen: there 50% of the passengers will continue, so it is a big feeder network. When I say that Blue1 is a local carrier that’s not enough as we have the SAS Group and Copenhagen is an extremely good connecting point. So, yes, the business supplies both the leisure and the business traveler and on the feeder and the local market.

 

GQ: In total of connecting passenger what is the percentage at Copenhagen?

SW: I would say in average we’re about 25%.

 

GQ: Do you want to share any thoughts with Air Transport New Readers?

SW: Well, I would say that this industry on its whole is one of the very challenging industries and the industry is very well loved by many parties, by the employees, by owners, by our customers, it is not just an industry, it s a big heart. So, there is a positive industry, we have the challenge we are currently facing which it is almost exclusively based on a pocket money issue. So we need as an industry to look out a positive side of this industry because we are actually bringing positive things to all our stakeholders, to the society, to the customer, to the employees and to the owners and we should actually be proud of that and not always look at the negative side of the legislation because that will not bring this industry forward.

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