OLT Express announces daring European expansion; raises stakes in Warsaw

Domestic is not enough: OLT Express’ Project Director Jarosław Frankowski together with Michał Swoboda, Board VP OLT Express Regional; Andrzej Dąbrowski, Board President OLT Express Regional; and Jacek Łyczba, Board President OLT Express Poland, spent the best part of last week announcing OLT Express’ European expansion, as the airline opted for dedicated conferences at each base.

Poland’s domestic market has seen some dramatic changes since the relaunch of OLT Express was announced in mid-February. The privately owned airline reshaped market dynamics by adding capacity levels previously unheard of in the country, while most of the routes launched also were outside of the scope of LOT Polish Airlines’ historical interest, or only to a limited degree covered by the flag carrier’s regional subsidiary eurolot.

Notably, OLT Express invested in regional connectivity between the country’s nine regional ports, although high-frequency connections to the capital Warsaw remained high on the agenda.

Five regional airports get European routes

OLT Express has now also announced its international expansion from a total of four regional airports; Gdansk, Rzeszow, Lodz and Bydgoszcz. Aircraft will be based at all four airports and routes will launch at the start of the winter scheduling season at the end of October. Notably, almost 56% of all international capacity to be offered by OLT Express in the regions is currently allocated to the carrier’s home base in Gdansk. Eventually, up to six A320s will be based at the airport. The domestic network will be further fine-tuned in the winter season to boost connectivity options, and the airline expects Gdansk to handle at least 10% connecting traffic.

While 13, seven and five European destinations will be launched from Bydgoszcz, Rzeszów and Łódź respectively, no route will be offered with more than twice-weekly frequencies. The table below summarises the international routes that will be offered by the airline from Poland’s regional airports.

Origin Destination WF* Competition (WF)
Gdansk (GDN) Amsterdam (AMS) 7 eurolot (3)
Brussels (BRU) 7
Frankfurt Hahn (HHN) 3
Hamburg (HAM) 7
Cologne/Bonn (CGN) 7 Wizz Air (2)
Marseille (MRS) 2
Memmingen (FMM) 7
London Gatwick (LGW) 7
Paris Orly (ORY) 2 Wizz Air (2)
Rome Fiumicino (FCO) 3 Wizz Air (2)
Venice (VCE) 2
Verona (VRN) 2
Reykjavik (KEF) 2
Bydgoszcz (BZG) London Gatwick (LGW) 2
Edinburgh (EDI) 2
Bristol (BRS) 2
Cork (ORK) 2
Newcastle (NCL) 2
Milan Bergamo (BGY) 2
Dortmund (DTM) 2
Frankfurt Hahn (HHN) 3
Paris Orly (ORY) 2
Rome Fiumicino (FCO) 2
Liverpool (LPL) 2
Rzeszow (RZE) Amsterdam (AMS) 2
Dortmund (DTM) 2
Hamburg (HAM) 2
Memmingen (FMM) 2
Oslo (OSL) 2
Paris Orly (ORY) 2
Rome Fiumicino (FCO) 2
Lodz (LCJ) Paris Orly (ORY) 2
Rome Fiumicino (FCO) 2
Frankfurt Hahn (HHN) 2
Barcelona (BCN) 1
Edinburgh (EDI) 1 Ryanair (2)
Source: OLT Express, Innovata for w/c 3 November 2012
*WF: Weekly Frequency at launch

LOT Polish Airlines’ captain Tadeusz Wrona, who made the successful no-gear landing in Warsaw last year, honoured the terminal opening ceremony in Rzeszów last week, flanked by cabin crew from competing OLT Express. Poland’s easternmost airport will be one of the nodes in OLT Express’ international network with seven routes announced – each with two weekly frequencies.

42% of international capacity in Warsaw

Despite the vows to make Gdansk its primary hub, OLT Express appears to have decided to take advantage of Wizz Air moving its Warsaw operations to the new Warsaw Modlin Airport, which is due to open in early summer. As much as 42% of the airline’s international capacity will be offered from the country capital, and domestic schedules are aligned to facilitate connecting traffic. Seven out of 17 routes will be offered with daily frequencies, including London Gatwick, which unlike other London airports only has services to Krakow in Poland at the moment.

Origin Destination WF* Competition (direct and indirect)
Warsaw (WAW) Amsterdam (AMS) 7 KLM (21), LOT Polish Airlines (19)
Brussels (BRU) 7 LOT Polish Airlines (19), Brussels Airlines (6)
WMI – CRL: Wizz Air (7), Ryanair (5)
Hamburg (HAM) 7 LOT Polish Airlines (12)
Cologne/Bonn (CGN) 7
London Gatwick (LGW) 7 WAW – LHR: LOT Polish Airlines (20), British Airways (14)
WMI – LTN: Wizz Air (25)
WMI – STN: Ryanair (7)
Memmingen (FMM) 7
Stuttgart (STR) 7
Frankfurt Hahn (HHN) 3
Gothenburg (GOT) 3 WMI – GSE: Wizz Air (3)
Lyon (LYS) 3
Paris Orly (ORY) 3 WAW – CDG: LOT Polish Airlines (23), Air France (27)
WMI – BVA: Wizz Air (4)
Milan Bergamo (BGY) 3 WAW – MXP: Alitalia (5), LOT Polish Airlines (17)
WMI – BGY: Wizz Air (4), Ryanair (3)
Rome Fiumicino (FCO) 3 Alitalia (5), LOT Polish Airlines (4)
WMI – FCO: Wizz Air (7)
Verona (VRN) 2
Saarbrücken (SCN) 2
Venice (VCE) 2 WMI – TRF: Wizz Air (5)
Münster/Osnabrück (FMO) 2
Source: OLT Express, Innovata for w/c 3 Nov
*WF: Weekly Frequency at launch

Although direct competition is limited to four routes – Amsterdam, Brussels, Hamburg and Rome Fiumicino – OLT Express will compete indirectly against a mix of legacy and low-cost carriers in a total of six markets, giving passengers quite a handful of options. Notably, in the coming winter season, a total of 73 weekly flights will be offered between London and Warsaw by five airlines; similar pattern applies for such markets as Brussels, Paris, Milan and Rome.


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