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What price for a tug when you need one?

Like many of us, I’m not averse to getting a good air fare, especially when it’s for a family holiday. With that in mind, and with a business interest in seeing what it is that Finnair is doing at their Helsinki hub, I chose ‘the fast route’, as Finnair promotes their northern routes, for my recent trip to Singapore. 

While I write extensively about on-time performance for OAG, analysing their data and trying to tease out the strategic implications of managing punctuality well, my return journey led me to reflect on the cost to airlines when things go wrong. Having taxied out to the runway at Singapore for a 23:35 departure, we were informed that a hydraulic problem meant we needed to return to the gate, but the need to turn off the engines meant we needed an aircraft tug to handle that trip. We waited over an hour for the tug to appear and, for Finnair, that hour made the difference between the flight arriving within three hours of its scheduled arrival time at Helsinki, and not. 

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Under EU Regulation 261/2004 I and the estimated 247[1]other passengers on that flight are each entitled to compensation of €600 making that wait for a tug cost €148,000, assuming everyone makes a claim.

For me, the fact that I missed my connecting flight was a nuisance but compensation feel just like what it says, compensation for inconvenience and it makes a nice contribution to the cost of my air fare. No hard feelings. But for Finnair and the many other airlines affected by this legislation each day it presses home the fact that punctuality is a complex business which needs good operational and strategic management because it affects the business bottom line.

Written by Becca Rowland

[1]Based on OAG Traffic Analyser data showing 37,588 passengers on the SIN-Hel segment in the first five months of 2018, when 151 flights were operated by Finnair.

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