Polish carrier LOT, a Star Alliance member, is creating a hub…outside of Poland. The flag carrier is slowly but steadily expanding operations in Budapest, Hungary.
LOT already serves Chicago (ORD), Krakow (KRK), London (LCY), New York (JFK), and Warsaw (WAW) from Budapest (BUD).
LOT plans to establish an Embraer E195 base in Budapest, where it recently added flights to Brussels (BRU) and Bucharest (OTP) in the schedule. Those new flights will begin on September 02, 2019. LOT sees the low-cost competition in Budapest, but also sees an opening for full-service airlines. Another carrier did not rise up when Malev, the defunct flag carrier of Hungary, went bust in 2012, creating an opportunity which still lingers today.
LOT Polish Airlines CEO Rafał Milczarski told ATW:
With these new flights we will start developing transfer traffic via Budapest Airport. That applies to passengers from Bucharest, who connect in Budapest, i.e., to London City, New York and Chicago, as well as to Brussels. The offer of transit connections will definitely increase the attractiveness of Budapest Airport.
More LOT Expansion
LOT carried 8.2 million passengers in 2018 and hopes to carry 10 million in 2019. To that end, it will take delivery of nine additional Boeing 737 MAX aircraft this year (it already has five in the fleet). It will also add four 787s to increase its Dreamliner fleet to 15. Throw in its 34 Embraer regional jets and LOT is well-positioned to continue its growth.
Recognizing the downward pressure on pricing from Wizz Air and Ryanair, LOT must be very careful not to expand too ambitiously. But from the comfort of my armchair, it certainly seems like a smart move to fill the void still lingering from Malev in one of Central Europe’s most vibrant cities.
image: LOT Polish