The airline will begin operating four times weekly A330 and A340 services on the route, which connects China’s third largest motor vehicle production centre to Helsinki-Vantaa in eight hours and 25 minutes and will offer onward connections to other European cities.
The Chinese city was first connected to Europe in April when Air China Cargo launched a Shanghai-Chongqing–Amsterdam cargo service.
“China is a key part of our Asia-Europe strategy,” said Finnair's CEO Mika Vehviläinen. “Western China is an important growth area, and the new route will strengthen our position in the growing Asian markets. I want to thank the Chongqing authorities and the local airport for the excellent cooperation and support for opening this new route. We believe Chongqing has the potential of developing into a hub for travel between Western China and Europe, both for business and leisure travellers.”
The new route is also coup for Vantaa which has been marketing itself as the closest point in Europe to Asia as part of a concerted effort to increase inbound and outbound Asian traffic.
"Only a few European carriers have started connections to secondary cities in China and Finnair are doing so in the belief they can be a leading European airline in services to the Far East," said Paul Paflik, VP of airline consultants Intervistas.
"This is part of the network strategy of Finnair who want to be the European leaders in connections from Western Europe, and to an extent, from North America into the Far East via Helsinki, the airline has not been expanding that dramatically recently because of financial constraints, but this route certainly compliments their existing network," he added.
In March, Helsinki secured a new four times weekly service to Tokyo Narita courtesy of Japan Airlines and will begin operating a B787 on the route from 2013.
Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport now has 15 international routes, including to Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore and Phuket.
In 2011, some 1,63 million passengers of the 15 million passengers using Helsinki were travelling to Asia, an increase of 15.4%.
Chongqing's Jiangbei International Airport has already opened 140 routes to more than 80 cities in China and Asia, and the airport is undergoing expansion. When the expansion is complete in 2015, the airport will be capable of receiving 45 million passengers per year.