HiSky new Moldovan airline starting April in competitive markets

HiSky new Moldovan airline starting April in competitive markets

HiSky is to be a fully privately owned airline.  Its initial network has six routes, with most served twice-weekly. London Stansted kicks off its operation from 10 April. When this happens, London – Chișinău will have four operators.

HiSky is a start-up Moldovan airline whose first flight is 10 April.  It is currently awaiting its AOC. It will join fellow local carriers Air Moldova and FlyOne, together with Wizz Air with three based A320s.  Air Moldova is by far the country’s largest operator by seats, with Wizz Air second and, despite its name, FlyOne third.

Set up by former Air Moldova senior management

HiSky is founded by Iulian Scorpan, previously General Director of Air Moldova, and Victor Sula, the carrier’s former Deputy General Director.  They will operate in partnership with Romania’s Cobrex Trans, who’ll provide the HiSky’s aircraft, initially a 180-seat A320s.  HiSky will be a fully privately owned airline.

Six initial destinations; most competitive

HiSky will start with six initial routes, as below. The carrier says it has chosen some of the most “requested” routes from Chișinău. Clearly, this explains why most of its initial routes have two or three competitors already, including direct or indirect competition with Wizz Air on four.  It raises the obvious question of prudence and what a brand-new, untested airline can really offer that others can’t, even with market knowledge of former Air Moldova management. What is the problem that HiSky is trying to solve?  The problem cannot be unserved or, for the most part, underserved markets.  Nor is it likely to be overpriced markets.  The opportunity seems to come from retrenchment to Bologna and Lisbon, and fast growth to Dublin, London, and Paris.

Chișinău to/from… Start date Weekly frequency and days Direct competition (weekly frequency)* Indirect competition (weekly frequency)*
Bologna 16 April 2 (Thu, Sun) Air Moldova (2; 3 peak), Wizz Air (4)  
Dublin 11 April 2 (Wed, Sat) Air Moldova (3; 7 peak), FlyOne (2; 3 peak)  
Düsseldorf  13 April 2 (Mon, Fri) None Wizz Air to Dortmund (3)
Lisbon 16 April 1 (Thu) Air Moldova (2); Flyone (2; peak only)  
London Stansted 10 April 3 (Tue, Fri, Sun) Air Moldova (4; 7 peak) FlyOne (Southend; 1; 2 peak); Wizz Air (Luton; 11)
Paris Beauvais 11 April 2 (Wed, Sat) Air Moldova (3; 4 in peak), Wizz Air (2) FlyOne (CDG; 1; 3 in peak)
Source: HiSky’s website and OAG Schedules Analyser. * Competition is based on a week in mid-April and, for comparison, at the beginning of August.

Most markets well-served, yet fairly small

The entry of HiSky will see three airlines to Bologna, Dublin, and Lisbon, and four to London and Paris. In the case of Bologna, HiSky seems to be entering as a result of the retrenchment of Air Moldova following Wizz’s growth.   To Lisbon, from the vacuum left by the capacity decline of FlyOne.  In the period 2015-2019, Dublin, London, and Paris have all grown strongly, with CAGRs of 33%, 41%, and 22% respectively.  But, they are fairly small markets.  Even London, which is by far the largest city-pair of HiSky’s markets, had 279,000 seats in 2019 – across three airlines and three London airports. HiSky seeks a small share of fast-growing markets. 

It’ll (initially?) have a fairly relaxed schedule

The day-by-day aircraft schedule, below, shows that it’ll only operate two-to-four sectors a day with late start times each day. It’ll have one hour turns at destinations, even at the likes of Beauvais.  It currently schedules two-to-three hours between flights at Chișinău.  The fact that Moldova is on the edge of Europe means that its crews will only do one return trip per duty, but such aircraft downtime suggests it is not wishing to overextend itself. It will be interesting to see how its develops its schedule, including on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Day Aircraft schedule as of now
Monday 1130 – 1730 (Dusseldorf)
Tuesday 0930 – 1610 (London Stansted)
Wednesday 1100 – 1740 (Paris Beauvais); 2015 – 0530 (next day; Dublin)
Thursday 1140 – 1700 (Bologna); 1920 – 0510 (next day; Lisbon)
Friday 0930 – 1610 (London Stansted); 1830 – 0030 (Dusseldorf)
Saturday 1100 – 1740 (Paris Beauvais); 2015 – 0530 (next day; Dublin)
Sunday 0930 – 1610 (London Stansted); 1850 – 0005 (Bologna)
Source: HiSky’s website.

Is it clear what HiSky will be?

HiSky says it’ll charge for both carry-on luggage (€10 for up to 10kgs) and checked in (€20 for up to 20kgs; €30 for up to 30kgs).  However, it’ll provide snacks and drinks free-of-charge.  Combined with generally highly competitive routes and one-hour turnarounds, it is concerning – like it often is with start-ups – that it says it’ll be “high standard at low cost”.


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