Austrian Airlines Expands Balkan Schedule As Flight Ban Is Lifted

Austrian Airlines is resuming scheduled operations to 15 destinations with immediate effect. This follows the decision made by the Austrian federal government on Wednesday to lift the ban on landings for flights arriving from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Montenegro, Egypt, Northern Macedonia, Romania, Serbia as well as Great Britain, Sweden, and Ukraine.

Austrian Airlines Expands Balkan Schedule As Flight Ban Is Lifted
Austrian Airlines is resuming a total of 15 routes with immediate effect. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

Flights are resuming today and tomorrow

In a statement to Simple Flying, Austrian Airlines has confirmed that it is launching an immediate expansion of its network. This takes the form of 15 new routes, scheduled to launch today and tomorrow, 31st July and 1st August.

To mark the occasion, Austrian Airlines Chief Commercial Officer, Andreas Otto said,

“We are pleased about a solution that combines health protection and freedom of travel.”

The majority of these new destinations are in the Balkans. However, landing bans have also been lifted for arrivals from the likes of Sweden and Great Britain too, and so the list includes destinations across three continents.

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Austrian Airlines
The 15 services that Austrian Airlines is resuming with immediate effect are located across three continents. Photo: Getty Images

The 15 destinations

The full list of destinations with their weekly frequencies is as follows:

  • Stockholm, 6
  • Belgrade, 6
  • Cairo, 5
  • Kyiv, 6
  • London, 14
  • Chicago, 5
  • Bucharest, 10
  • Pristina, 10
  • Sibiu, 4
  • Sarajevo, 10
  • Skopje, 10
  • Sofia, 10
  • Podgorica, 7
  • Tirana, 10
  • Varna, 6

Almost all of these routes are a short distance away from Austrian’s hub in Vienna, and they serve as feeder routes for the airline’s Western European network. Airports that are less than an hour away from Vienna on this list are Belgrade, Kyiv, Sarajevo, and Podgorica. Several others are just over an hour away.

The timing of these routes during ordinary times was unambiguously directed towards quick and easy transfers onto Austrian Airlines’ Western European and North American destinations through its hub in Vienna. Simple Flying previously reviewed such a transfer experience in Vienna Airport on two Austrian Airlines flights: first leg, from the Croatian capital Zagreb to Vienna on a Dash 8-400, and the second leg, from Vienna to London Heathrow on an A320.

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Almost all of these 15 routes are very short, and they serve as feeder routes in Vienna. Photo: Getty Images

Competition is fierce

Austrian Airlines is resuming flights today and tomorrow already because it faces tough competition on some of these 15 routes. Demand is especially inelastic in the first few days of operations because there have been no flights at all to these countries from Austria since the first half of July when Austria first imposed the ban.

For example, on the route to London, there will already be three airlines competing for the market: Austrian Airlines, with a morning and an afternoon departure to London Heathrow, and Ryanair and Wizz Air to Stansted and Luton respectively.

Austrian will also compete with Ryanair on the route to Sofia from tomorrow, and with Bulgaria Air from Sunday. To Bucharest, it competes with Wizz Air and TAROM from Sunday, and to Stockholm with Wizz Air, also from Sunday. To Belgrade, Air Serbia is launching flights tomorrow just hours before Austrian Airlines does.

Do you think Austrian Airlines is expanding too much, just because it is allowed to resume flying to these destinations? Let us know what you think of this story in the comments below.