LOT Announces Expansion Of Budapest Hub

LOT Polish airlines announced yesterday (31/7/19) a launch of new routes from their hub in Budapest. Starting from the 22nd of September, LOT will add another long-haul destination from Ferenc Liszt International Airport and fly directly to Seoul. The carrier will expand the short haul network as well. From the 30th of March 2020, LOT will fly directly from the Hungarian capital to Sofia, Prague, Belgrade, Stuttgart, Bucharest and Brussels.

LOT Announces Expansion Of Budapest Hub
The flights to Seoul will be operated by 787 Dreamliner aircraft. LOT currently has 14 in their fleet and two more on order. Photo: Karol Ciesluk

The New Flights

The exact schedule of the flights to Seoul has already been announced. The flights will be operated by Boeing 787 aircraft. The flight BUD-ICN will take off at 11:25 and land at 06:05(+1) with flight number LO2001, operating on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The return flight ICN-BUD LO2002 will take off at 7:35 to land in Budapest at 12:20, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays.

Flights to Belgrade and Sofia will be offered once a day, seven times a week. However, the routes to Stuttgart and Prague will fly once a day on weekdays only.

The news about the expansion comes in just a few days after LOT’s announcement regarding flying from Warsaw to Beijing’s new airport – Daxing.

Aircraft reallocation and schedule changes

The expansion requires a reallocation of three of LOT’s Embraer 195 aircraft and brings the total number based in Budapest to five. It also increases the total number of destinations offered from that city to 12. LOT Polish Airlines already offers flights to London City, New York and Chicago, among others.

LOT Announces Expansion Of Budapest Hub
LOT flies to over 110 destinations today. Photo: Karol Ciesluk

An additional Boeing 787 Dreamliner will not be reallocated to Hungary in order to start the flights to Seoul. As a result, the Polish national career has decided to reduce their number of weekly flights to New York from four to three flights a week. On top of that, the route to Chicago will be operated seasonally during summer and be suspended in the winter.

Why Budapest?

Hungary lost its national carrier after Malev’s bankruptcy in 2012. Since then, the only career flying under the Hungarian flag is Wizzair. The low-cost airline does not offer any long haul destinations and does not operate under the hub and spoke model, leaving demand for certain routes on the table.

LOT has spotted its chance and plans to become a leading carrier in Hungary. It is a rather unprecedented and interesting move to see a national career building a hub abroad of its homeland.

LOT Announces Expansion Of Budapest Hub
Warsaw Chopin Airport creates constraints for the rapid development of the airline, which is why a new airport is planned to be opened in 2027. Photo: Karol Ciesluk

Part of a wider plan?

Last week, LOT Polish Airlines’ CEO Rafal Milczarski announced LOT’s aspirations to carry 25 million passengers in 2027. It is an extremely high number, especially when compared to the current number of passengers carried by LOT – roughly 10 million.

Reaching 25 million by 2027 will not be possible in Warsaw on its own due to the constraints of Warsaw Chopin Airport. One could thus assume that LOT’s strategy includes a significant development of their hub in Budapest. Is that a good decision? – In my opinion a brilliant one.

If you are want to learn how LOT has built its hub in Budapest, we invite you to have a read.