19 August, 2023

Topi Manner to leave Finnair next year

The CEO of Finnair, Topi Manner, is to leave the outsourcing carrier early next year, the firm confirmed this week after he gave them notice. 

Manner is to join Elisa Corporation as their new CEO, starting at the latest on 1 March 2024. Until then, Manner continues as normal in his CEO role at Finnair the airline said in a statement on Friday.

“Topi Manner has done a stellar job with his team in leading Finnair through the double crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of Russian airspace. I want to thank Topi warmly for his leadership during the past, very difficult years. Finnair has emerged from the double crises as a strong airline, as witnessed by our Q2 financial performance”, says Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae, the Chair of Finnair Board of Directors. “The Finnair team has shown their ability to adapt and transform, and we are in an excellent position to continue to connect Asia, Europe and North America. I wish Topi the best of success in his new chapter.”

“My time at Finnair has been characterised by the exceptional crises we faced. This has been the ultimate stress test for the entire Finnair team. I am extremely proud of the way our organisation has responded, adapted, and succeeded. It has been an honour to be a part of this team effort and feel the Finnair spirit”, says Topi Manner. “When I move to my new challenge, I will take many learnings with me. Finnair will always remain important for me. Meanwhile, I am committed to continuing to lead Finnair with my strong team for the rest of my time with this excellent company.”

Manner's departure will come as a shock to many staff as he was a key part of future plans beyond 2025.  "It is a great loss to the airline, he was the only sane one of the top leadership,"  one senior Finnair pilot told us on Friday evening. 

It has been said that Manner was the man to turn to in times of crisis, indeed the period that he's been in charge has been a tumultuous one in aviation. During his tenure, he's had to steer the airline through the Covid Pandemic grounding, Russian airspace closure, staff disenfranchisement, financial struggles and forcing forward difficult decisions of outsourcing and service stripping, yet the carrier is in a stronger position now, that almost everybody thought less than two years ago.

Will the telecoms and digital sector that he's moving into have as much passion and drama as the aviation industry has seen in recent times remains to be seen, but Manner,  the safe pair of hands looks set to continue being dependable in times of need. 

Perhaps aviation just wasn't in Manner's blood, the 49-year-old has had a long career in management positions at Nordea, the largest financial group in the Nordic countries, and from 2016 he has worked as a member of Nordea's Group Executive Management and as Head of Personal Banking.  Then taking over roles at Finnair and becoming the vice chairman of Finland's Chamber of Commerce.