LOT Polish Airlines will become the first European operator of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner when it welcomes the delivery of the first of eight aircraft it has on order in November this year. The Star Alliance member has this past week confirmed its planned scheduled operations of the type after opening reservations for the aircraft on flights from Warsaw to Beijing, Chicago, New York and Toronto.
The Polish national carrier has confirmed it will take delivery of its first 787 on November 15, 2012 and will receive five aircraft by March 2013 and the start of the Northern Summer schedules. It will initially place the aircraft into service on European routes for crew qualification and training requirements from around December 14, 2012, an executive confirms. Destinations which are likely to see the aircraft are said to include Brussels, Budapest, Frankfurt, Hanover, Kiev, Munich, Prague and Vienna.
The type will commence scheduled flying from January 16, 2013 when it will be introduced on LOT’s long-haul network, making its debut on the Warsaw – Chicago route. As additional aircraft arrive the 787 will be used for flights to Toronto from February 1, 2013, New York from February 3, 2013 and Beijing from March 3, 2013. The 787s will be configured in a three-class arrangement seating 18 in Business Class, 21 in Premium Economy and 213 in Economy and will directly replace older 767 jets on all these routes.
“I can say with confidence that this is a breakthrough moment for LOT. I am convinced that the offer which we are presenting to our Passengers will meet great interest, and a plane such as the Dreamliner will delight and meet the expectations of each traveler,” said Marcin Piróg, Chief Executive Officer, LOT Polish Airlines.
LOT has eight 787-8s on order having signed an initial contract for seven aircraft in September 2005 and then converting an option for one further aircraft in February 2007. The selection of Chicago as the first scheduled route for LOT’s Dreamliners is no surprise. The Polish flag carrier has served Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport from the country’s capital, Warsaw, since January 1988 when it initially utilised Douglas DC-8s and Ilyushin Il-62s on the route.
The arrival of its 767s enabled the service to be upgraded in May 1989 and additional frequencies were introduced from the following month. LOT offered a daily schedule on the Warsaw – Chicago route but increased this to nine flights per week from June 2012. An estimated 133,000 O&D passengers travelled on this route in 2011, up 13.8 per cent on the year earlier with LOT holding around an 85 per cent share of the traffic as the only carrier offering direct air services between the two cities.
In addition to the Chicago route, LOT currently uses its 767s on flights from Warsaw to New York JFK, Newark and Toronto but has plans to expand further into the Asian market following the arrival of the Dreamliners. It has, up until this year, been operating flights between Warsaw and Hanoi, Vietnam (launched in November 2010) but subsequently reaalocated resources to resume flights in May between the Polish capital and Beijing, China, a route it last served in summer 2008. There is also O&D demand for routes between Warsaw and Bangkok (last served by LOT in May 2000), Shanghai, Seoul, Hong Kong and New Delhi (a route the airline closed in October 1992), which could all be options for future network growth with the Dreamliner.