Lithuanian start-up carrier Air Lituanica is to expand its network and introduce new flights to Munich, Germany and Prague, Czech Republic later this month after recently taking delivery of its first Embraer 175. The new aircraft will enable it to launch scheduled flights under its own ‘LT’ flight code. The carrier, which inaugurated operations with a single Embraer 170 has up until now been flying in cooperation with Estonian Air, the owner of the leased aircraft.
The E175 is being acquired from Embraer’s specialist remarketing business ECC Leasing and was delivered during the first week of September. The 86-seat jet will be placed into service on the Vilnius – Prague route from September 20, 2013 and the Vilnius – Munich link from September 21, 2013. Air Lituanica will offer four flights per week to the Czech capital and three services a week to the Bavarian gateway.
The Independent Lithuanian carrier inaugurated operations between Vilnius and Brussels on June 30, 2013, adding flights from the Lithuanian capital to Amsterdam from July 8, 2013 and Berlin from August 5, 2013. From September 15, 2013 it will boost frequencies to Amsterdam to a double daily schedule.
“More frequent flights to Amsterdam ensure more convenient travel for both business and tourism passengers,” said Simonas Bartkus, commercial director, Air Lituanica. “Passengers are capable of using a wider range of connecting flights saving their time and travel costs.”
Air Lituanica plans to expand its route network to 13-16 destinations by 2015 and handle between 500,000 and 600,000 passengers annually. It will mainly target markets linking Vilnius with points across Western Europe, Scandinavia, Russia and CIS.
Like its initial three routes both Munich and Prague have been previously regularly served from Vilnius: airBaltic offered flights to Munich between October 2004 and March 2011 when it had an operational base in Lithuania; while Prague has been linked to the Lithuanian capital by Czech Airlines for over ten years but this route was closed in January 2013.
Air Lituanica hopes to succeed where previous national entities Lithuanian Airlines and flyLAL have failed by establishing a sustainable network of routes from the Lithuania. It hopes to overcome the problems of its predecessors and help establish new air services in the country but rather than establish itself as a large national entity, instead plans to fly small regional jet equipment on high frequency routes to key destinations where there is both leisure, but most importantly, corporate demand.
Meanwhile, the carrier has confirmed it will also introduce flights to London (Gatwick Airport) and Dublin this winter, although these will be served for a limited period to meet seasonal demand. The carrier has agreed a deal with Small Planet Airlines to operate a 148-seat Boeing 737 and 180-seat Airbus A320 on 24 return flights to the UK and Ireland between December 20, 2013 and January 4, 2014. These will operate from both Vilnius and Palanga with 14 flights scheduled from the capital and ten from the seaside resort town in western Lithuania, on the shores of the Baltic Sea. In total Air Lituanica’s schedules will introduce 6,700 additional seats into the market during this two week period.
“During the main season holidays there is normally a sharp increase in the number of Lithuanian people from England and Ireland wishing to celebrate with their families back home. Moreover, there are also locals who prefer to travel and spend their holidays with their families abroad to consider. That is why we have decided to introduce these new Christmas holiday destinations,” explained Bartkus.