Malév focusing on regional growth; new routes to Slovakia will use buses

Image: Malév launched twice-weekly services to Pulkovo in April.
Malév launched twice-weekly services to Pulkovo in April. Géza Fehérváry, Malév COO, emphasised the market opportunities inherent in the flight: “The St. Petersburg service brings new customers to Malév, because there is great interest among Hungarian tourists in the city, filled as it is with unparalleled sights and a vibrant cultural life. Furthermore, we are confident that many tourists from this part of Russia will be interested in visiting Hungary.”

Last year Hungarian national flag-carrier Malév gave up its last long-haul services (to New York and Toronto) and since then has been focusing on consolidating its European regional network. A member of oneworld since 1 April 2007 the airline currently serves 50 destinations from Budapest using a fleet of 18 737s, five Fokker 70s and four Q400s. Last month it was announced that the airline had signed a Letter of Intent to acquire 30 Sukhoi Superjet 100s with the first delivery of the 98-seat aircraft expected in 2011 with six aircraft per year being added thereafter.

Image: Malév has signed a Letter of Intent to purchase 30 Sukhoi Superjet 100s
Malév has signed a Letter of Intent to purchase 30 Sukhoi Superjet 100s with the first delivery scheduled in 2011. Alessandro Franzoni, CEO of SuperJet International, and Martin Gauss, CEO of Malév, signed the agreement, which has a potential value of up to US$1 billion.

Passenger numbers up despite capacity reductions

For each of the last three years the airline has carried around three million passengers per annum. Despite the loss of long-haul services resulting in a 10% capacity and traffic reduction (as measured by ASKs and RPKs) passenger numbers in May were actually up 5% on the previous year with average load factors holding steady at around 63%.

Chart: Malév demand seasonality (Monthly passengers 2007-09 (000s))
Source: AEA

Apart from the transatlantic long-haul services Malév has also dropped Ekaterinburg from its network during the last year and swapped airports at Moscow from Domodedovo to Sheremetyevo. New routes started during the same period include Amman (replacing oneworld partner Royal Jordanian), Iasi in Romania and Uzhgorod in Ukraine. Uzhgorod becomes the airline’s third route to the Ukraine after Kiev and Odessa.

The airline has recently revealed that it is adding Bratislava and Kosice to its route network. However, the service offered is by scheduled coach, which will operate four times daily. “Slovakia, as a dynamic and growing country, represents a key market for Malév, and we are very happy to add Bratislava and Košice as new destinations to the Malév network, thereby linking Slovakia to our European and Middle Eastern flights,” said Karim Makhlouf, Chief Commercial Officer, who recently joined Malév after a spell at Slovakian-based SkyEurope.

Image: Malév launched express bus services on 13 July 2009
Malév launched express bus services on 13 July, linking its Budapest hub with Bratislava and Kosice. “Slovakia, as a dynamic and growing country, represents a key market for Malév,” said Karim Makhlouf, Chief Commercial Officer.

No direct competition on 29 routes

Out of the 50 routes (in 34 countries) that Malév operates from Budapest airport, 29 are operated as a monopoly with no direct competition. A further 18 routes feature just one competitor while just three (Dublin, Geneva and Rome) face competition from two other carriers. Two of these routes (Dublin and Geneva) are among five routes that are being discontinued at the end of the summer season. The other three routes are Ljubljana, Podgorica and Venice Marco Polo. On Dublin the airline faces competition from both Aer Lingus and Ryanair, while Geneva passengers are being tempted by easyJet and Swiss.

Local LCC Wizz Air only competes head-to-head with Malév on four routes; Madrid, Rome Fiumicino, Targu Mures and Varna. However, it also faces indirect competition from Wizz Air on routes to Brussels, Gothenburg, London, Milan, Paris, Stockholm and Venice, where Wizz Air operates to secondary airports.

Image: Malév launched services to Iasi on 30 March 2009
Malév launched services to Iasi on 30 March – it is the airline’s fifth Romanian destination. Flights are operated six times per week using the carrier’s Q400s. Malév carried more than 218,000 passengers on its Romanian services last year – up 20% year-on-year.

Amsterdam is busiest route thanks to codeshare with KLM

With five daily flights, Amsterdam is Malév’s busiest route in terms of scheduled seat capacity accounting for around 8% of the airline’s entire network. Maybe surprisingly KLM does not compete directly on this route but is happy to code-share with Malév despite KLM being a key member of a rival alliance.

Other destinations served at least thrice daily include Bucharest (Otopeni), Copenhagen and Paris CDG. A further 24 destinations are served twice-daily, at least on weekdays.


  1. Chris says:

    Malev also operate short regional routes using an EMB-120 operated by Budapest Air Service. Perhaps these new direct bus routes to Bratislava and Kosice (~300 and 220km away respectively) are trials into the Slovakian market (which has no full-service home airline) or to boost patronage before the arrival of the Sukhoi 100s (of which there are only 15 confirmed, 15 on order).

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