Yesterday, LOT Polish Airlines took off on its first-ever direct flight from Budapest to Seoul, South Korea. Utilizing a Boeing 787 on the route, it marks the first time the Polish airline has launched a route into Asia from anywhere outside of Poland.
The 90-year-old airline has been putting into place some major expansion plans since setting up its new base in Hungary. Along with plans to construct a mega-hub airport in Poland, the carrier has its sights set on becoming a transfer airline between Asia and Western Europe, to rival even the might of the Middle Eastern carriers.
The inaugural flight
The LOT Polish 787 Dreamliner took off from Liszt Ferenc International Airport on Sunday 22nd September, operating as LO2001. The flight took off at 13:15, around 50 minutes later than scheduled. However, the carrier made up time on the trip, landing at 06:15, just 10 minutes late.
The flight was operated by a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, registered SP-LRD. According to Planespotters, this Dreamliner is just 6.3 years old, and is powered by two Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines.
LOT’s CEO Rafal Milczarski commented on the new flights, saying,
“It is a milestone in LOT’s history and another stage of building our second homebase in Budapest. I am certain that our services will meet the expectations of Koreans and Hungarians. Tourism and business potential of the cooperation between Budapest and Seoul is huge – the annual passenger traffic on that route reaches 75,000, and the number of passengers travelling annually between the CEE region and Seoul exceeds 580,000. As a leader in the Central and Eastern Europe LOT responds to passengers needs offering them flights not to one but already to two European capitals, Warsaw and Budapest.”
The flight itself takes around 11 hours in total. Passengers can connect onwards from Budapest to Warsaw and London City. From March 2020, LOT will also add connections to Prague, Stuttgart, Brussels and Bucharest.
As of now, the flight will operate three times per week, according to the following schedule:
- LO2001: Budapest to Seoul, leaves BUD at 12:25, arriving in ICN at 06:05 (+1 day). Operates on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
- LO2002: Seoul to Budapest, leaves ICN at 07:30, arriving in BUD at 13:15. Operates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
According to the Budapest Business Journal, LOT’s CEO has made it clear that this is just the beginning for this route. He has expressed an interest in expanding it from three to six times a week, or in an ideal world, daily.
LOT’s Dreamliners are equipped with a three class configuration, including 18 business class seats with lie flat beds. Premium economy offers 21 recliner seats, with a pitch of 38” and 19.5” width. Finally, the economy class accommodates 213 passengers in seats with a pitch of 32” and a width of 16.9”.
Star Alliance members can add another string to their bows with this latest expansion. Connections from Seoul can be secured on airlines such as Air China, ANA and Asiana, opening up more of the world and more opportunities to earn points and miles.
Points chasers aside, LOT expect this route to do very well. Last year alone, Budapest welcomed more than 100,000 visitors from Korea, and received investments of more than $1.2bn from the Asian nation.