IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1947
Ceased operations 1996 (merged into Finnair)
Hubs Helsinki Airport
Parent company Finnair (since 1963)
Headquarters Helsinki, Finland
Key people Niilo and Valto Karhumäki (founders)

Karair was an airline from Finland. Initially having offered scheduled passenger flights, the company became a subsidiary of Finnair, mainly operating on holiday charter routes.


Karhumäki Airways Logo
Niilo and Valto Karhumäki, the later founders of the airline, in 1927.

Originally called Karhumäki Airways, the company was founded in 1947 as a subsidiary of Veljekset Karhumäki Oy, an aircraft manufacturing and maintenance company owned by Niilo and Valto Karhumäki. In June 1951 scheduled services began between Helsinki and Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Vaasa and Sundsvall.[1] Initially operating on domestic routes with a fleet of four Douglas DC-3 and two Convair CV-440 Metropolitan airliners, the first international flight (to Stockholm) took place in 1951, which was followed by holiday flights to Málaga.

In 1956 the airline was reorganised as Kar-Air OY and started operations in January 1957.[1] A Swedish subsidiary was established, which from 1961 onwards operated a single Douglas DC-6 on chartered flights to Southern Europe. In 1962, Aero O/Y acquired a 27 percent stake in Kar-Air,[2] which was increased to 51 percent over the following years, since Kar-Air had encountered financial difficulties when its two Metropolitans were damaged in hard landings and had to be taken out of service for a period in 1963. The new majority owner demanded Kar-Air to cease domestic flying, concentrating on charter flights (mainly to the Mediterranean) holiday resorts instead. For this purpose, Aero O/Y handed over to of its own DC-6 aircraft, which Kar-Air also used for multiple stopover round-the-world flights.

Kar-Air Logo
Douglas DC-6B of Kar-Air fitted with swing tail operating a freight flight to Manchester in 1979

The DC-6s remained the backbone of the Kar-Air passenger fleet until 1972, when the jet age was joined with the introduction of the 189-seat Douglas DC-8. One DC-6 was re-configured with a swing tail unit for cargo transport purposes and stayed with the airline until 1980, mainly operating freight flights for Finnair to the UK and other European destinations, when cargo flights were taken over by Finnair (as Aero O/Y was named by then). In the same year, the airline underwent another rebranding, being known as Karair, also styled KarAir henceforth.[2] Over the following years, Karair reduced its fleet, because charter contracts with Finnair had been terminated.

In 1986, two Airbus A300 wide-body airliners joined the Karair fleet,[3] which again were leased from Finnair and deployed on holiday charter flights. Finnair's plans with Karair changed from 1989, when the first of six ATR 72 short-haul turboprop aircraft was added to the fleet, and the A300s in turn left the following year.[3] From then, scheduled domestic passenger flights on behalf of Finnair were operated.

In 1990, Finnair acquired further shares to hold a total of 90 percent of the Karair stake,[2] which was further increased to 97.6 percent in 1993. These period saw financial problems because of the recession of the early 1990s, which led to Finnair announcing a full take-over of Karair in December 1995.[2] Subsequently, the Karair fleet and the airline's operations were merged into Finnair, a move which was completed in September 1996. In 2002, a court deemed the take-over illegal, and Finnair was forced to salvage the remaining Karair stocks.


A Kar-Air Douglas DC-3 arriving at Stockholm-Bromma Airport 1968.

Between 1950 and 1963 (when Aero O/Y had not yet acquired the majority stake), Kar-Air operated scheduled flights to the following destinations, with further ones accessible on co-operative flights of SAS and Aero O/Y:[4]


Kar-Air was not only operating passenger and cargo services, but until also ore-finding flights using a Lockheed Lodestar (until 1972), a Douglas DC-3 (1972-1980), and after that a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter.


A Karair Airbus A300 at Faro Airport in 1991.

Over the years, Karair operated the following aircraft types for its commercial flights:[2][3]

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Aircraft Introduced Retired
Airbus A300
ATR 72
Convair CV-440
de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter
Douglas DC-3
Douglas DC-6
Douglas DC-8
Fokker F27 Friendship


On 5 February 1973, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter (registered OH-KOA) crashed near Pudasjärvi in heavy icing conditions during a scheduled domestic passenger flight from Oulu to Kuusamo because of an engine failure. The 15 passengers and three crew survived the accident.[5]


Two aircraft formerly owned by Karair (a Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar and one of the oldest surviving Douglas DC-3s) is currently on display at the Finnish Aviation Museum in Vantaa. Another former Karair DC-3 is exhibited at Munich Airport, though painted in the colors of Swissair.


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