Prague Airport targets long-haul routes to Newark, Toronto, Seoul/Incheon and Shanghai
Jiri Vyskoc, Executive Director of Aviation Business Development, Prague Airport, tells anna.aero about the top unserved routes the airport has identified, as well as the success of recently-launched routes from Prague to the Middle East and North America.
Prague Airport is experiencing a strong post-pandemic traffic recovery, with the vast majority of direct routes already reinstated. There are, nevertheless, a few connections that have still not reopened and which are key targets for the airport.
“Our top priority is to get back several long-haul direct services that were operated in 2019. Flights connecting Prague with Newark, Toronto, Seoul/Incheon and Shanghai are the most desired among them,” explains Jiri Vyskoc, Executive Director of Aviation Business Development, Prague Airport. “On top of that, there were two new long-haul routes originally announced for summer 2020 – Hanoi and Chicago. These destinations continue to represent the highest market potential for new route development from Prague, alongside Bangkok, Tokyo, Taipei, New Delhi and Singapore.”
Meanwhile, when it comes to the short and medium-haul markets, Prague Airport has identified several opportunities to renew or establish new connections. The top destinations that currently remain unserved include: Marrakech, Bilbao, Tbilisi, Zagreb, Almaty and Nur-Sultan, Tallinn, Vilnius, Stuttgart, Cairo, Yerevan and Gdansk.
Joint marketing activities in Middle East deliver new routes
Prague is among the most popular tourist destinations in Europe and its dependence on inbound tourism caused profound traffic declines in the period of the hardest travel restrictions. On the other hand, the sharp recovery of tourism demand in certain regions represents significant potential for further traffic growth. The Middle East is a region where Prague Airport sees exactly such potential. Indeed, Jazeera Airways recently launched a twice-weekly route between Kuwait and Prague.
“We already had talks about new route opportunities in this region back in 2019,” says Vyskoc. “This year, we renewed joint marketing activities in the Middle East with the national tourism board CzechTourism and the city tourism board Prague City Tourism. We are very happy that our efforts supported the decision of Jazeera Airways to launch flights from Kuwait to Prague, as well as the introduction of Flynas direct flights between Riyadh and Prague. Moreover, new direct services to Muscat and Salalah have been announced by Salam Air for the upcoming winter season.”
Demand for US travel “recovering at a dynamic pace”
In May, Delta Air Lines resumed its nonstop service between Prague and New York-JFK. The route is operated with the 767-300.
Prague welcomed over 500,000 visitors from the US in 2019, making it the second-biggest source market of incoming tourism after Germany. “After the unprecedented decline caused by the pandemic, we were already able to monitor growing numbers of travellers from the US during 2021,” Vyskoc explains. “The demand of citizens living in our catchment area for travel to the US, especially to New York, has been recovering at a much more dynamic pace. It was very important for the market that Delta Air Lines reintroduced the nonstop direct flights for the main summer season. We are very excited to see that the flights are fully booked. It is the best contribution to our efforts to achieve the extension of the period of operation of this service and launch of additional new routes in North America.”
Extensive incentive scheme and co-branded marketing activities
Prague Airport offers airlines an extensive incentive scheme for all types of activities that contribute to traffic growth. The support of new long-haul routes consists of a five-year programme of discounts on landing charges and passenger service charges. There is also a four-year programme for short and medium-haul routes.
“We also invest in co-branding marketing activities with airlines,” says Vyskoc. “For the entire period of operation, airlines are eligible for the passenger volume-based rebates and additional marketing support. In total, the support of a new scheduled route that was not operated within the last 12 months amounts up to 65% off all airport charges in the first year and up to 45% on average during five years of operation.”
Continued programme of investment
Prague Airport is investing in the continued improvement of operational safety, and regularly making investments in the repair and maintenance of airport apron areas.
“Regarding the parallel runway, we are waiting for the verdict whether the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) validity will be extended by another five years,” Vyskoc explains. “The second condition is that the cassation complaint regarding the principles of the Central Bohemian Region zone planning is successful.”
The airport has also reviewed investments in its terminal development, with increase in capacity to take place in stages.
“We strive to enliven the airport and its surrounding area and implement the Airport City concept,” Vyskoc adds. “There are a number of non-residential premises and land that can be used in various ways, for example to house research institutions, specific categories of medical services and more. We will explore and address the market and look for the most suitable use of the space and land available.”