For obvious reasons, not many long-haul routes are being launched right now. One exception is LOT Polish Airlines from Kraków to New York JFK, which has restarted after an absence of 13 years. This is one of nine US routes for the carrier this year.
Operating once-weekly until the end of September, the schedule is:
- LO19: Kraków-JFK, leaving at 13:00 on Saturdays and arriving the same day at 15:40
- LO20: JFK-Kraków, leaving at 18:15 on Thursdays and arriving the next day at 08:55
The first flight to JFK began on June 26th using a Boeing 787-8 registered SP-LRG. ‘Romeo Golf was delivered to LOT in June 2017, ch-aviation.com indicates, and it has 252 seats: 213 in economy, 21 in premium economy, and 18 in business. LOT’s widebody fleet now comprises only B787s, both the -8 and the larger and heavier -9.
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But it started from JFK two days earlier
LOT Polish’s US operations are known for interesting aircraft scheduling. In the days before the route started from Kraków, Romeo Golf operated Warsaw-JFK-Kraków-Chicago-Kraków-JFK-Warsaw. Because of this, the first flight from JFK to Kraków was on 24th June.
LOT last served Kraków from New York JFK in 2008, when it operated between June and September. Perhaps surprisingly, Kraków-Newark was also served at the same time, Cirium data confirms, with the route ending two years later.
Why Kraków to New York?
Since October 2010, the market has had no non-stop service. However, it is strongly demanded, primarily from Polish diaspora visiting friends and relatives (VFR) and for wider tourism.
In 2019, over 55,000 round-trip point-to-point passengers flew between the two cities, according to booking data from OAG Traffic Analyzer. The bulk flew indirectly via Warsaw or with Lufthansa over Frankfurt. Kraków was New York’s seventh-largest market in Central and Eastern Europe, and the second-largest unserved after Tirana, Albania.
Fares reflect VFR demand
Of course, fares weren’t especially high, which is often a problem with VFR-heavy markets. The average one-way fare for Kraków to New York was approximately $336 excluding taxes and fuel surcharges, booking data shows. In comparison, Prague had a fare roughly 20% higher, while the distance is about 5% shorter. In 2019, Delta served JFK from Prague, while United connected the Czech capital to Newark.
Nine routes to the US this year
LOT has nine routes to the US this year, as shown below in order of total seat capacity. There are eight from Poland and one from Budapest, the Hungarian capital. LOT began Los Angeles in 2017 and Miami two years later. While long, the 6,016 miles between Warsaw and Los Angeles is far short of being included in the world’s longest routes list.
- Warsaw to Chicago; 10-weekly in mid-August
- Warsaw-JFK; nine-weekly
- Warsaw-Newark; three-weekly
- Warsaw-Los Angeles; twice-weekly
- Warsaw-Miami; twice-weekly
- Kraków-Chicago; twice-weekly
- Budapest-JFK; none as the route resumes in November
- Rzeszów-Newark; once-weekly
- Krakow-JFK; once-weekly
Budapest-JFK began in 2018 and is presently set to resume on a three-weekly basis from November 1st using the B787-8. LOT filled the gap after Malév ceased the route in 2008, followed by Delta and American in 2011.
Have you flown LOT long-haul? Let us know in the comments.