Long-haul routes are on Prague Airport's radar

The airport, which has recently been named as one of Ryanair’s latest bases, have their sights set on serving the likes of Belfast, Florence and the Baltic regions.

Václav Havel Airport Prague is on course to break passenger number records in 2016. Following the recent base announcement by Ryanair, Prague has plans to conquer unserved routes and expand its long-haul network.

Ryanair will base two aircraft in the Czech Republic from October, making Prague its 84th base. Two new daily routes will be launched to Bergamo and Rome, offering five routes in total – Brussels is served nine times weekly, Dublin daily and London twice a day.

With increased Asian and American tourist numbers, Prague is looking to expand its long-haul network to better serve the market. Figures are in their favour, with considerable growth being achieved in the last few years. Passenger numbers increased by 7.9 percent in 2015, handling more than 12 million passengers. This averages at 33,000 passengers a day.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Routes Europe air service development forum in Kraków, Poland, Jiří Vyskoč, director aviation business, Václav Havel Airport Prague said: “Last year was really successful for Prague Airport, we recorded an eight percent increase, up to 12 million and for this year we expect growth of around seven percent. It’s a very positive trend. “

This year Prague is preparing for a busy summer schedule. Delta Air Lines will increase capacity on its route to New York JFK, replacing the Boeing 767-300ER with the larger 767-400ER, seating 246 passengers. China Eastern Airlines will begin a service to Shanghai, and Air Canada Rouge will connect Toronto Pearson International Airport with the Czech Republic capital three times a week from May 29, 2016.

As the airport continues to grow, it sis also focussing on routes that are not currently being served. Short-haul development is on the agenda, with Routes Europe 2017 host Belfast making the list. Dublin is served by Aer Lingus and Ryanair, but at present there is not a direct route to Northern Ireland.

Prague’s hopes to expand its Italian network to include Florence. This network is extensive, serving the likes of Cagliari, Bari and Lamezia Terme as well as Milan Bergamo and Milan Malpensa. The airport is also seeking additional routes into the Baltics.

With new routes and increased capacity, Prague is on course to break records for passenger numbers this year. It is forecasted that between 12.8 and 12.9 million passengers will be handled for the calendar year, which would be an airport record. With Prague’s stance as one of the best destinations in Europe – TripAdvisor have listed Prague in their Top Ten list for cities in the world – they are in a strong position to keep growing.