**Update: 05/01/20 @ 16:30 UTC. Comment from LOT Polish Airlines is included below.**
LOT Polish Airlines has poised itself for major growth amid speculation of new aircraft and a flurry of network expansion announcements. The flag carrier of Poland could be on track for a successful 2020. It’s taking advantage of Polish aviation developments and setting impressive goals. Here’s how…
Indicators of growth
At the tail end of 2019 alone, we reported on numerous exciting ventures from LOT Polish airlines. It appears that the air carrier is concocting a strategy for growth this year with the advent of new aircraft and new routes.
At the end of December 2019, LOT made the decision to wet-lease four A320 aircraft from Avion Express. This decision in itself was particularly impressive since LOT Polish doesn’t have any Airbus aircraft in its fleet. In addition, there’s also been speculation that the airline will invest in three ex-Singapore Airlines’ Boeing 777 aircraft.
With a fleet of 92 aircraft already, these additional seven aircraft will allow LOT Polish to broaden its network and tap into those profitable areas. What’s significant about the pending aircraft delivery it also that the Airbus will be on a short lease.
This gives the airline the opportunity to test the aircraft without having to fully invest. And what if LOT Polish likes what it sees? It might then end up investing even more in the A320 which would allow it to develop its route network even further.
An extensive route network
But with those new aircraft, LOT Polish needs somewhere to fly to. It recently launched a new flight from Budapest to Seoul on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and, despite a delayed launch, hopes that it will begin flying from Warsaw to Beijing Daxing in as little as 10 days time. Where might its new aircraft fly?
Despite LOT Polish’s significant and ever-expanding route network, the airline has yet to venture into some popular destinations. The air carrier’s network is heavily centered in Europe but only has a few flights to America, Asia, and the Middle East. It currently offers no flights to Africa, Central America, South America or Oceania. But the range of some of these new aircraft could make it possible.
On the other hand, when LOT Polish announced its latest flight to Washington, it was proud to say that it was serving the United States with this extra service. This sentiment continues as LOT will increase its frequency of flights to New York. The airline will operate seven weekly flights. What’s more, it will also add a new flight to San Francisco from Warsaw starting on 15th August 2020. Might we see more expansion in the U.S. or will LOT venture elsewhere?
We asked the airline and it told us:
“2020 will be a difficult period for the entire industry. There are many challenges ahead of us – from the global slowdown, through volatile commodity prices, to Brexit. The decision on the grounding and then stopping the production of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft is also a shadow on the future results of international carriers…As far as the development of the connection network is concerned, this year we will inaugurate over a dozen very interesting connections. Among them are the long-distance ones: Warsaw-Beijing Daxing (from January 15), Cracow-New York (JFK, from May 3), Warsaw-Washington D.C. (from June 2), Warsaw-San Francisco (from August 5).”
Promising future developments
Poland is also busying itself constructing a new mega-airport. New Central Polish Airport will sit just 40km outside of Warsaw and LOT Polish is hoping to turn it into a major transfer hub. If LOT can get this off the ground, it will be able to use its strategic position in the world to ferry even more passengers to destinations around the globe.
But how can LOT Polish be confident that its existing strategy will work? Well, thankfully the airline can play to the strengths of the industry. Polish airport traffic has been growing steadily for a number of years. In 2019, there were an estimated 46 million travelers in Polish airports. By 2035, that figure is expected to more than double to 94 million.
And LOT Polish is not letting that estimation pass it by. It’s incorporating this increased interest in aviation in its growth strategy. In a recent press release, the CEO of LOT Polish Rafał Milczarski said:
“Over the past four years, we have more than doubled in growth, launching more than 70 new destinations and acquiring 40 aircraft. We are constantly improving our product and increasing the offer of available connections … Last year we had 8.9 million passengers travelling with us, and this year we will break the record of 10 million passengers carried onboard our aircraft. This is yet another token of LOT’s ability to leverage the region’s potential through the development of two hubs in Warsaw and Budapest and to become the leader in Central and Eastern European transport.”
In terms of its leadership potential, we’ll have to see what it can pull out of the bag in 2020.
Are you confident in LOT Polish’s growth? Let us know in the comments below.