Czech Airlines is expanding its activities in the Polish market and entering the Scottish one as part of its business strategy of developing its transport network outside its home market and hub at Václav Havel Airport in the Czech Republic’s capital, Prague.
The airline will launch flights between Łódź and Prague and between Łódź and Rzeszów and Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, in the UK. These will launch from July 14, 2015 and will operate on a twice weekly basis using an all-Economy, 144-seat seat Airbus A319. The flights will operate for the remainder of the summer 2015 schedule as well as the winter 2016/2016 schedule, according to Czech Airlines.
“Poland is one of the EU’s largest and fastest developing markets with increasing civil aviation transport demand. The market offers interesting business opportunities we wish to and will try to pursue in the future. Our new activities on the Polish market are in line with Czech Airlines’ strategy of developing its transport network outside its main Prague hub,” said Ján Tóth, director for commerce, alliances and marketing, Czech Airlines.
The SkyTeam alliance member will be one of only three major carriers to offer regular flights from Władysław Reymont Airport in Łódź, alongside Slovenia’s Adria Airways and low-cost carrier Ryanair. The facility has found it tougher to secure direct air services since 2012 after the opening of the A2 motorway reduced travel time to the capital, Warsaw (and the country’s main Chopin Airport hub), to just one hour.
While Prague will be a new market, the link to Edinburgh will bring a return of services to the Scottish capital after a two-year hiatus. Ryanair introduced flights on the Łódź – Edinburgh city pair in September 2008 and provided a year-round operation through to October 2012, when the flight revert to a summer only operation, later ending in October 2013.
Ryanair is also the dominant carrier at Rzeszów’s Jasionka International Airport, where Lufthansa CityLine is the only other scheduled international operator with a regular connection to Frankfurt. Although this will be the first Rzeszów – Edinburgh link, the Scottish market was previously linked to the Polish city by Ryanair with a twice weekly service to Glasgow Prestwick, which operated for a single season between March and November 2013.
“This direct air connection to Rzeszów will be very good news for the whole Polish community in Scotland, as well as for their families and relatives here in Poland,” said Stanisław Nowak, president, Jasionka International Airport. “We have known for a long time that there is a large Polish community living in Edinburgh, originally from the Podkarpackie region and surrounding areas.”
Meanwhile, Czech Airlines has confirmed the closure of its planned summer routes from Cork to Ibiza and Prague. The carrier was due to start flights to the Irish city from its Prague hub on May 14, 2015 and introduce services to the Balearic island of Ibiza from June 12, 2015, but delayed their launch while it reviewed its network plans.
Earlier this month the carrier said “after thorough analyses” it had “decided not to launch operations of two-planned new services from Cork”. It added that advance bookings for the flights did not meet their expectations and the routes wouldn’t be economically viable.
Niall MacCarthy, managing director of Cork Airport said he was disappointed at Czech Airlines’ decision not to proceed with the two services. “Our team here at Cork Airport worked hard to secure these new routes for the region, but unfortunately, Czech Airlines has indicated that bookings were not strong enough to sustain the services for this summer,” he said.
It has also emerged this month that Czech Airlines has set a new launch date for a new route to Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport from its Prague base. The carrier had originally planned to start flights on May 18, 2015 but will not introduce the twice weekly connection from July 17, 2015 instead.