ROUTES SILK ROAD: Vueling Interested in Expanding to East

Speaking to The HUB Daily at the Routes Silk Road forum in Tbilisi, Georgia, Vueling’s international sales manager, Jesus Blanco said the airline was seriously considering other capitals and major cities in the region accessible with its current fleet.

Spanish carrier Vueling is “very interested” in further broadening its network to Newly Independent States (NIS) such as Georgia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Speaking to The HUB Daily at the Routes Silk Road forum in Tbilisi, Georgia, Vueling’s international sales manager, Jesus Blanco said the airline was seriously considering other capitals and major cities in the region accessible with its current fleet.

The Spanish carrier started operations in that part of the world back in 2007, and currently flies to several cities across Russia, as well as Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, among others. Baku in Azerbaijan, Astana in Kazakhstan and Tbilisi itself were strong contenders, he explained, noting that the time was definitely right.

“Visa restrictions in the area are steadily becoming loosened and there is considerable demand for flights to Spain, particularly Barcelona and the onward destinations we serve,” he said. “There is significant potential for these countries to attract increasing numbers of tourists from Europe, I believe numbers could double in the not too distant future.”

Commenting on the presence of competing European airlines already operating in the region, such as Wizz Air in Georgia, he added: “Having an LCC already here will actually make things easier for other airlines to enter the market, even though we may operate different business models.”