Italian LCC Wind Jet still heavily focussed on domestic market; just 20% of scheduled flights are international

Wind Jet’s most recently launched route, from Forlì to Tallinn, began on 30 June and adds to the airline’s existing destinations in northeast Europe; Riga, St Petersburg, Moscow and Samara.

With the collapse last year of, and the disappearance of the Volareweb brand as part of its integration into the ‘new’ Alitalia, Italy has arguably just two remaining home-grown low-cost carriers, Blu-Express and Wind Jet. The latter, which is based in Sicily, has been operating scheduled services since June 2003. Now with a fleet of seven 180-seat A320s and five 144-seat A319s (and two Piaggio P180s for executive business travel), the airline operates a mix of scheduled and charter services and last year carried over 2.5 million passengers. Last week, the airline introduced a new weekly service between its base at Forli (near Bologna) and Tallinn in Estonia, becoming the only Italian carrier to link these two countries.

Wind Jet’s Summer Network 2010

Focus on domestic routes between Sicily and Rome

Most of the airline’s network is between airports in Italy with over 80% of flights, even during the peak summer period, being assigned to domestic services. The airline operates four daily flights between Catania and Rome Fiumicino, and three daily flights between Palermo and Rome Fiumicino. It faces significant competition on both of these routes from Alitalia and Blu-Express, while easyJet also offers two daily flights between Rome and Palermo.

Chart: Wind Jet's top 12 airports - Weekly departures during summer peaks

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 20 July 2009 and w/c 2 August 2010

All international routes are served with just one or two weekly flights, except for Barcelona which is served with three weekly flights from both Catania and Palermo. As a result, the Spanish airport just makes it into the list of top 12 airports based on scheduled frequency.

A total of 20 international destinations are currently served with scheduled services; five in France, three in Russia, two in Spain, and one each in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Greece, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia and the United Kingdom.

Unusual operations in France and flights to Niš in Serbia

One of the airline’s more unusual destinations is Niš (INI) in Serbia, which is served twice weekly from Forli. The Wind Jet service is one of only two scheduled services at the Serbian airport, the other being a daily flight to Podgorica in Montenegro.

Wind Jet’s non-Paris French routes are also something of an oddity. Since 9 April, this year the airline offers weekly (Friday) flights that operate Catania – Lyon – Marseille – Catania, and Catania – Nantes – Toulouse – Catania. The same routings are offered from Palermo. All of these routes are operated as code-share flights with XL Airways France who also operate some of the flights.

The airline’s next new scheduled destination is Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt which it plans to launch in December. The carrier has offered charter flights to Northern Africa for several years and sees this as an area of potential growth.


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