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What’s the difference between a scheduled and a charter flight?

Article published
27.8.2021 at 15:36
According to the stereotype, scheduled flights are full of hectic business people, while charters mostly fly easy-going holiday travellers. But how do the two types of flying actually differ from each other?

"A scheduled flight means that tickets to flights are sold via various sales channels around the world. Scheduled flights may have connection flights. Charter flights, on the other hand, are bought from the airline by a tour operator. These are so-called package vacations, although nowadays one can also just as easily book a seat on a charter flight," says Mikko Komi, Key Account and Business Development Manager at Finavia.

"Nowadays, charter flights are also popular during different types of events, like sports events," Komi adds.

Scheduled flights have existed since the dawn of aviation. Finnair, for example, has flown them since it was founded back in 1923 under the name Aero Ltd. The first Aero-operated charter flights from Finland to Nice, France, took place in 1949.

Keihäsmatkat – a Finnish package holiday legend

The Karhumäki brothers, or Kar-Air, did a few charter flights to Algeria in 1951 and 1952. Finlantic Ltd. was founded in 1961, and the company’s planes, during its one-and-a-half years of existence, visited all continents except Australia and Antarctica. In the same year, Kar-Air opened the longest flight route in Europe at the time – the “Sun line” between Helsinki and Malaga.

– It is not a surprise that Malaga is still attracting people – though nowadays through scheduled flights, notes Komi.

Leisure flights became common in Finland during the 1960s, thanks to Kalevi Keihänen’s (1924-1995) Keihäsmatkat, a pioneer operator of Finnish tourism.

– Back in those days Keihänen's "Kihniö moonshine" was served on the plane, as Finns headed to southern Europe for holidays. In the golden age of Keihäsmatkat tour operator, traveling abroad was not yet that common, and leisure flights were quite colourful, says Komi.

After the first raving years, the atmosphere on leisure flights calmed down. Nowadays one would not notice much difference between holiday travellers and scheduled-flight passengers. Nowadays, tour operators can also buy seats from scheduled flights, too.

– Especially the younger generation prefers to build its own “holiday packages”, by choosing the flights, hotels and activities they prefer. An increase in scheduled air traffic, and the possibilities of online buying and information retrieval through the Internet, have supported this trend, comments Komi.

The article was first published on March 21st, 2018.