Finland’s flag carrier Finnair has confirmed it will cancel more than 500 flights on 1 and 2 February due to industrial action by trade unions. 

The strike is “political” according to both the airline and the unions, and is specifically not directed at airline or airport employers. 

“The strike is a political industrial action, and it is not targeted against employers. I understand that the strike causes difficulties and trouble to many passengers,” according to one union leader Håkan Ekström. 

The strikes at airports are part of a wider national action by Finnish trade unions that see the policies of the Helsinki government as damaging to equality and workers’ rights. 

Finnair explained the majority of its 280 scheduled flights would likely be cancelled. 

“Finnair has approximately 280 flights per day in its normal traffic program, so the vast majority of flights will be cancelled. Finnair targets to operate a handful of flights during the strike and will communicate directly to those customers who have booking on flights that will be flown,” the firm said in a statement. 

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The airline said passengers booked on cancelled flights would be offered alternatives, and those expecting to transfer through Helsinki would be rerouted. 

“Customers on long-haul flights with onward connections from Helsinki on February 1–2 will be routed directly to their destinations, as there are no connections from Helsinki during the strike,” the airline explained. 

Vice president of Finnair’s operations control centre Jari Paajanen said customers should wait for the airline to offer new options before looking elsewhere. 

“We will do our very best to offer a suitable flight option to as many customers as possible, but the number of alternative flights is limited. We ask customers to kindly wait for the rerouting from us, as our customer service team is busier than usual and queue times can be long,” he said.   

“It is unfortunate that the political strike will affect so many customers’ travel. We will work in close collaboration with our partners to ensure that after the strike, our flight operations can again commence as smoothly as possible,” Paajanen added.