Interview with Christer Haglund, Finnair

Christer Haglund «Who could resist a honeymoon in space?»
Christer Haglund of Finnair about space-travel, becoming CO2-neutral as an industry and surviving the crisis at hand.

Richard Branson is spearheading space-tourism. Will Finnair target space-travel as well in the future?
All successful businesses must be open for different future visions. Space-travel is already an option and in the future demand will certainly grow stronger. Finnair Group, through one of it’s travel agencies, has space travel for sale. Time will tell how common space travel will become.
Do you believe that future business meetings will take place in cyberspace?
Part of them yes, but nothing virtual can ever replace physical contact and face-to-face communications so I don’t believe cyberspace will ever make business travelling - or other travelling for that matter - unnecessary.
What about travelling to the moon and spending a weekend in a crater hotel?
Well, who could really resist a honeymoon in space if that would be a feasible option? Think about the sensational weightlessness, the extraordinary view of our beautiful planet and the surrounding of clear twinkling stars!
Finnair looked out to 2093 and initiated visions about the future of flying. What are the goals of Finnair looking that far into the future?
More than anything we wanted to encourage discussion on future in general and travelling and flying in particular. For business purposes the time scale is usually shorter, but aviation must look further because investments in aircraft might have a time span for over twenty years. In order for us to become carbon neutral or an emissions neutral industry we must look beyond present aircraft generations.
What are within the next 30 years possible discontinuities, which could affect the airline industry?
The aviation industry is right now in the midst of a survival game. Structural changes will take place and the fittest will survive. Business ideas must also be renewed in order to safeguard investments that are needed in order to achieve sustainable operations. Environmental concerns will push aviation to develop toward less emissions. Unsuccessful regulations might also have severe and unjustified implications.
Does this future scenario have any implications on the current strategy of Finnair?
Yes, we always take environmental aspects into consideration in our decision making. We invest in the most modern technology and continue to do so. We also actively interact with regulatory bodies and are a member of the AGD Group (Aviation Global Deal) which drives for a global emissions trading scheme.
How did your industry respond to your outlook to 2093? Any reactions?
We got incredibly much enthusiastic feedback and our people are now popular speakers all around the world. It has also deepened our co-operation with our partners and given us better possibilities to have an impact on decisions that are crucial for our future.
Robust trend analysis of customer numbers and choice of destinations is vital for the airline-business as it takes many years to manufacture new planes once they have been ordered.  How does Finnair operate its corporate foresight?
Based on analysis and different scenarios we discuss future options. However, it is also important to be flexible in order to manage short term challenges.   

What are the upcoming trends? Bigger planes? A return of airships?
There are multiple trends to be seen: there will always be a need to travel fast over long distances, since time is money and geography will not change. But leisure traffic on the other hand,  might partly change in another direction where cruise ships take you conveniently to places difficult to reach by other transportation. Ultimate luxury might be gliding slowly and watch interesting sceneries from above. There will be a need for a wide variety of planes, big and small for different purposes.
What can we look forward to hearing from you in Lucerne?
On its 85th anniversary Finnair,  instead of recalling the past embraced the future, explored what aviation and travel would be like 85 years from now. This resulted in a book, Departure 2093: Five Visions of Future Flying. My intention is to speak about the idea with the book and what we have gained with this project.

Christer Haglund is Senior Vice President, Finnair Corporate Communications. In this role he is responsible for the Finnair Group's internal and external communications and public and investor relations. Corporate responsibility is also included in his area of competence. Christer Haglund is a member of the Finnair Group's Executive Board and he has been employed by Finnair since 2000. Previously he has worked for the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs in various positions in Finland, Sweden and the United States. He has also a background as a journalist.

Finnair: Departure 2093 - Five Visions of Future Flying Christer Haglund, Finnair Senior Vice President, Public Affairs & Corporate Communications
Friday, October 16, 2009; 14.00h
Culture and Convention Centre KKL Luzern