It’s not often you see a widebody commercial jet touchdown at Vilnius International Airport (VNO). However, the airport recently had its first-ever transatlantic service takeoff. This took the form of a Boeing 787-9 operated by Italian charter company Neos, which will fly Lithuanians across the Atlantic on a 10-and-a-half hour flight to Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic.
Vilnius’ first transatlantic service
Rarely ever do widebody jetliners visit Vilnius airport (with a terminal that looks like an old train station). Indeed, the facility, which serves the capital city of Lithuania, is more accustomed to seeing narrowbody jets from airlines such as Ryanair, Wizz Air, LOT, and Lufthansa. The airport is also a focus city for Riga-based airline airBaltic and its fleet of Airbus A220-300s.
However, eager planespotters in the city will be able to occasionally catch a glimpse of a Boeing 787-9 operated by Italian charter firm Neos. The carrier will be operating an occasional direct service to Punta Cana directly from Vilnius- a flight that will take over 10 hours heading west.
As far as we can tell, the service is being organized by Central and Eastern European tour operator Itaka. It doesn’t appear that the public will be able to book a flight directly with the airline. Instead, the flight is just one part of a tour package provided by Itaka, which includes a hotel. As a result of this charter arrangement, flights will not be taking place particularly frequently- flying once per week at the most.
The first flight departed Vilnius on October 30th, just after 13:00. This 10+ hour service touched down in Punta Cana at 16:26 local time. Operated by Neos’ 787-9 registered EI-NUA, the aircraft offloaded its passengers and flew onwards to the Italian city of Verona.
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About Neos’ 787-9
As we noted in a previous article regarding Neos’ service, the airline’s Dreamliners are configured with two classes of cabin, which are premium economy and economy:
- There are 28 seats in premium economy in a 2-3-2 layout.
- There are 331 seats in economy in a 3-3-3 layout. However, this class subdivides into an extra-legroom economy (named Economy Extra Plus), with 36 seats, followed by standard economy with 295 seats.
In addition to extra legroom, Economy Extra Plus has an additional quirky feature: The absence of children. Indeed, in this section, only adult passengers are allowed. These tickets also include ‘fast-track’ status at the airport as well as a choice of seating and separate check-in, hot towels, and a welcome drink.
All seats are fitted with inflight entertainment screens, although those located in premium economy are slightly larger.
Unprecedented? Two widebodies in a week
We’ve already emphasized how rare it is to see a widebody jet at Vilnius airport. However, the facility was lucky enough to have another large aircraft touch down a few days prior to the Neos 787 service.
This ‘other’ widebody visit came in the form of a specially-chartered China Airlines Airbus A350-900, which transported a contingent of Taiwanese companies and business associations looking for opportunities to work with several European countries. According to LRT, the delegation is looking to invest in Lithuanian companies, buy Lithuanian products, and organize tourist trips to Taiwan.
Do you think there is an opportunity for a small airport like Vilnius to host long-haul transcontinental services? Or will it always be overshadowed by neighboring Riga and Warsaw? Let us know by leaving a comment.