Riga To Helsinki On A NORRA (Finnair) ATR72

Recently I took a Finnair flight from Riga (RIX) to Helsinki (HEL) operated by N°RRA with an ATR72-500. The experience was efficient, and the service was professional, but I was also lucky to be on a flight which was only half full.

Who is N°RRA?

Finnair operates only some of its regional flights itself, using its own Airbus A320 family aircraft. Most of its regional network, both domestic and international, is operated by Nordic Regional Airlines, which is also known as N°RRA.

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N°RRA was launched in 2011 under the name of Flybe Nordic as a joint venture between Finnair and Flybe, Britain’s regional airline that was once the largest independent European airline and which stopped flying in March 2020. Before its bankruptcy, Flybe sold Flybe Nordic, and it is now owned by Finnair and DAT, a Danish regional airline operating short-haul flights in North Germany, Scandinavia, and PSO routes in Italy.

Flight AY1076

According to our data from ch-aviation, N°RRA’s fleet consists only of regional aircraft. All are operated for Finnair, and all wear Finnair’s or oneworld livery. The airline has 12 ATR 72-500s and 12 ERJ 190-100LRs in its fleet.


My flight was operated by an ATR 72-500. The aircraft was 13 years old, but its interior was retrofitted three years ago, and so the cabin did not feel old at all.

My flight details were as follows:

  • Flight AY1076
  • Aircraft type: ATR 72-500
  • Registration: OH-ATI, 13 years old
  • Departs Riga International Airport (RIX) at 18:10
  • Arrives at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL) at 19:25
  • Ticket price: 50.98 euros ($55.50) of which 9.98 euros ($10.90) was taxes and 41 euros ($44.60) was the actual fare
  • Load factor: 53%, all economy

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The load factor was only just above 50%, with most seats in the front unoccupied. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

There are no codeshare agreements between Finnair and other airlines on this flight, but Finnair’s other daily flight between Riga and Helsinki (AY1074) is codeshared by American Airlines, Qatar Airways, Japan Airlines, and Air France.

Finnair faces some strong competition on the route. airBlatic offers two daily services with its Airbus A220 aircraft and typically a lower ticket price than Finnair. Just like Finnair uses this flight to feed its network from Helsinki, airBaltic also uses its own Riga-Helsinki-Riga flights to feed transfer traffic into its own network out of Latvia.


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The price history for my flight. Photo: Google Flights

Furthermore, a very strong competitor to Finnair in this market is Ryanair, which offers tickets between Riga and Helsinki for as low as five euros ($5.50) each way. However, unlike airBaltic and Finnair, Ryanair does not rely on single-ticket transfer passengers to operate this route, so it does not fly twice daily but only four times weekly. Nevertheless, its highly competitive price is a big pull factor for any point-to-point passenger who is flexible with their travel times.


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The ATR is incredibly noisy during take-off. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

Before the flight

Finnair has an excellent app through which I could check in 36 hours before departure and get my boarding pass very easily. I could also use the app to select any seat I wanted, as I am a oneworld frequent flyer with Ruby status. I collected Avios via my British Airways Executive Club account on this flight.


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Riga Airport is very obviously the home of airBaltic. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying


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There were dozens of gorgeous airBaltic aircraft to be seen everywhere. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

As for the airport experience, Riga Airport is fantastic. It is very easy to get to by bus or taxi, but not by train. There is a truly excellent lounge, Primeclass Riga Business Lounge, at Riga Airport, which I could pay to access via my bank’s membership of the LoungeKey scheme.

The flight

The turnaround for our ATR 72-500 was a tight 30 minutes, but thanks to the aircraft only being half full we departed on time as boarding did not take long. I was the last to board. I always find it amusing how boarding is done from the back of the aircraft with the ATRs.


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Boarding the ATRs is done in the back. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying


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We walked to the aircraft from the downstairs area of ​​the terminal building. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

I try to avoid small aircraft whenever possible because I do not like having to lean forward to decrease my height when walking through a cabin interior because the ceiling in the aisle is not as high as I am. Nevertheless, to my pleasant surprise, this Finnair flight did not feel cramped at all. Finnair offers very good legroom on its ATRs of 31 inches. I was actually supposed to be in row 1, which is the emergency exit row, but the purser asked me upon boarding if I would like to sit in row 3, which was completely free, so that I could have more space. I accepted her offer.


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Even the tray tables are very small. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

One thing that was a problem for some passengers, and I find this to be the case on every flight involving a Dash 8 or an ATR aircraft, is that passengers with luggage that is inflexibly shaped cannot fit their bags in the overhead compartments. The cabin crew placed one passenger’s trolley bag under the seat on the other side of the aisle from me. The bag was not particularly large, so I wonder what would have happened had this been a fully booked flight. The passenger already had his personal item, which Finnair allows for free on board, under the seat in front of him.


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The aircraft interior. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

Before take-off, we taxied for eight minutes in Riga, one of which was spent waiting for an airBaltic A220-300 to land en route from Verona (VRN). The ATR is an incredibly loud aircraft during take-off, so I wore my noise-canceling headphones. This did not help much as I could still hear the noise from the propellers very loudly.


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We were served complimentary blueberry juice. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

The flight time was one hour. All passengers were served a glass of blueberry juice. There was no option to purchase any other drink or snack as Finnair does not offer an onboard menu for its short regional flights to Kuopio, Kajaani, Oulu, Vaasa, Visby, Tampere, Turku, Mariehamn, Stockholm, Riga, St. Petersburg, Vilnius , and Tallinn. In fact, on flights to Tallinn and on the shortest domestic flights, there is not even any complimentary water or juice at all.


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There was snow everywhere to be seen in Helsinki. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

We landed in good time and taxied for only three minutes in Helsinki as the aircraft was parked relatively close to the runway, and we were transported to the terminal by bus. Helsinki airport is superbly organized and clean, and it is easy to get to Helsinki from the airport by a frequent train service.


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Helsinki Airport train station. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

Aside from the price being relatively high for a European short-haul flight, I was very satisfied with my Finnair experience. However, I do not think I would have felt the same if I had been in one of their non-refurbished ATR 72-500s or if the flight had been fully booked.


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