LOT has been consistently expanding its network of connections from Budapest. On 22 September 2019 LOT is going to launch non-stop long-haul flights to Seoul and on 30 March next year LOT is going to launch six new destinations, including Sofia, Prague, Belgrade, Stuttgart, Bucharest and Brussels, thereby operating 12 routes from Budapest. The launch of new international flights from Hungary marks another stage of market consolidation in Central and Eastern Europe, of which LOT is currently becoming an undisputed leader.
The strategy of LOT’s network development in Budapest which was announced last year, becomes a fact today. Starting from 30 March 2020, i.e. in less than two years from the launch of non-stop long-haul flight to the US, the number of flights operated by LOT from the capital of Hungary will total 12 – passengers will fly directly to Warsaw, Kraków, London City, Bucharest, Brussels, Stuttgart, Prague, Belgrade, Sofia as well as New York City, Chicago and Seoul. To operate its newly announced European flights, three LOT’s Embraer 195s will be permanently stationed in Budapest. Starting from the next summer season, carrier’s fleet in Budapest will amount to four short-distance aircraft and one Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Flights from Budapest to Seoul will be operated three times a week with Boeing 787 Dreamliners based on the following timetable:
LO2001 11:25 – 6:05 (+1) BUD-ICN Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays
LO2002 07:35 – 12:20 ICN-BUD Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays
“Today we are announcing another stage of the development of LOT’s hub in Budapest – in less than two months we are going to inaugurate the flight to LOT’s first destination in Asia – from Hungary to Seoul. It is yet another milestone in LOT’s history. I am certain that our services will meet the expectations of Hungarians and Koreans alike as well as passengers from the entire region of Central and Eastern Europe. Tourism and business potential between Budapest and Seoul is huge – the annual passenger traffic on that route reaches 70,000, and the number of passengers travelling annually between the CEE region and Seoul exceeds 750,000 ,” says Rafał Milczarski, CEO of LOT Polish Airlines.
Tamás Menczer, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s State Secretary for Information and the International Representation of Hungary underlined that announcing this flight also demonstrates that Hungary has an increasingly strong presence on the map of both Europe and the world. He added, the world is constantly changing, we are faced with new challenges, and Hungary would like to be a winner in this process, for which good transport connections are required. The state secretary indicated that only this year so far about 350 billion HUF of investment came from South-Korea, making this country in the Far East the biggest foreign investor in Hungary. Besides, tourism is also intense; between 2015 and 2018, the number of South-Korean tourists increased by 69 percent, and in 2018, 176 000 South Korean tourists spent 253 000 guest nights in Hungary.
Jost Lammers, CEO of Budapest Airport commented, “We are delighted that yet another long-awaited route from Budapest is launched by LOT Polish Airlines. Seoul – and South Korea – is a significant economic partner for Hungary, and passenger traffic quadrupled between the two countries over the past four years and will reach almost 100,000 in 2019. This development of the route network of LOT’s base in Budapest will further strengthen Hungarian ties in business and tourism both within and outside Europe.
Budapest-Seoul schedule was designed to ensure convenient transfers in Budapest starting at 1 hour to connecting flights to other European cities, including to Stuttgart, Prague and also Warsaw. Budapest-Seoul flight will last less than 12 hours.
“We are also going to launch four new European destinations, namely, Sofia, Prague, Belgrade and Stuttgart in the next summer season, thus delivering on our promise made to Hungary to become the only airlines offering non-stop and most comfortable connections from Budapest to USA, Asia and Europe. We also operate flights to each of those destinations from Warsaw and are very pleased with the results. Our analyses showed that those destinations have a huge potential to become successful in Hungary, too,” adds Rafał Milczarski.
Flights to Prague and Stuttgart will be operated almost twice a day (except on weekends). Routes to Sofia and Belgrade will be operated daily, seven days per week.
Besides launching new destinations from Budapest, LOT also adjusts selected flights. For the upcoming winter season LOT will reduce frequency of flights to New York City from 4 to 3 flights per week, whereas the flights to Chicago will be seasonal and will be operated only in summer. Also, due to Boeing 737 MAXs being grounded, LOT decided to postpone launch of previously announced flights to Brussels and Bucharest for 30 March 2020. Thus in the next summer season passengers from Hungary will be able to fly to as many as six new European destinations.
“We have been consistently implementing our strategy of growth in Budapest adjusting our services to meet passenger needs and current operational conditions. Demand for flights to/from USA is highly seasonal which highly affects profitability of flights. Another factor was not sufficient feeder network. That is why we decided to inaugurate as many as six new European routes from Hungary on 30 March. Apart from their large business and tourism potential of the so-called point-to-point traffic, they will also feed our long-haul connections to USA and South Korea,” adds Rafał Milczarski.
Currently, LOT’s cabin crew operating non-stop flights from Budapest totals 80 flight attendants and a dozen or so Hungarian pilots. It has been recruiting new candidates on a current basis and plans to have employed approx. 150 new pilots until the end of 2019 to work at its bases in Warsaw and Budapest. Launchof new flights from Budapest is another element in the implementation of the profitable growth strategy of LOT Polish Airlines, the purpose of which is to build the position of leading airlines in Central and Eastern Europe.
Tickets for the flights between Budapest and Seoul can be purchased through all sale channels, including the lot.com website, the LOT Contact Center, LOT Travel offices, and travel agents. Tickets for the flights to new European destinations, i.e. from Budapest to Belgrade, Stuttgart, Sofia and Prague, will be available starting from 7 August 2019.