London, Brussels and Paris will become Austrians first nonstop destinations operated ex Bratislava/Slowakia in May 2004. More nonstop flights between Eastern and Western European destinations are currently under investigation. Here is the original media release:
"Bratislava Take Off" - Direct Flights from Bratislava to Brussels, Paris and London as of May 2004
“FOCUS EAST” – Next Step in Central and East European Offensive
“We are working on the assumption that, in the course of the expansion of the European Union into Eastern Europe in May 2004, the demand for direct flights from the capitals of the new member countries to West European cities will increase markedly. In addition to continuing to expand our transfer traffic passing through Vienna into and out of Central and Eastern Europe, we shall be making every effort to make active use of this foreseeable trend. In a first step, direct flights will be introduced from the Slovakian capital Bratislava to Brussels, Paris and London from May 2004 onwards. To continue building on our market leadership, we are examining other direct flights between key cities in Eastern and Western Europe.” The words of Vagn Soerensen, Chief Executive Officer of the Austrian Airlines Group, explaining the next step in the ongoing profiling of Austrian as the Eastern Europe specialist operating across the Continent.
From May 2004 onwards the Austrian Airlines Group will fly from the Slovakian capital to the cities of Brussels, Paris and London on a daily basis, initially using one Boeing 737 based in Bratislava. The Slovakian aviation market is distinguished by its high growth potential. Passenger volume at Bratislava Airport, for instance, rose by 25.5 % from 2001 to 2002, to around 370,000 passengers. The new direct connections to be introduced into the flight programme by the Austrian Airlines Group next May are the highest-volume routes from Slovakia.
Chief Commercial Officer Dr. Josef E. Burger: “Following the launch of the product and offer offensive on the basis of our new market presence, this geographical expansion represents the next step in our efforts to position ourselves more effectively to counter the intense competitive pressures in the market. We will be offering highly competitive pricing on flights leaving Bratislava, with fares adjusted to suit local market conditions. The customer will also be given the opportunity to combine the direct flights out of Bratislava with a return via Vienna. We see this strategy, together with the extensive frequency increases, as further investment in our East European expertise.”
Having increased frequencies into Central and Eastern Europe by an additional 49 weekly services, and introduced the cities of Baku and Rostov into the 2003/2004 winter flight programme, the Austrian Airlines Group now offers 273 weekly return flights to the region.
From the 2004 summer flight programme, moreover, Austrian will begin to operate up to 60 additional flights into Eastern Europe. The carrier plans to increase frequencies to 16 destinations, including Skopje, Belgrade, Pristina, Vilnius, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Bucharest, Kiev, Moscow, Krakow, Krasnodar, St. Petersburg, Dubrovnik, Minsk, Tbilisi and Split.
Dr. Burger went on to say, “We currently serve 35 destinations in Central and Eastern Europe, and already cover 87 % of international traffic volume into the region. We are the sole EU carrier at nine destinations, while we lead the market by some distance in countries such as Ukraine on the strength of our holding in Ukraine International Airlines. We already generate more than 20 % of our production in Central and Eastern Europe, and carried 1.25m passengers in the region in 2002. We have set ourselves the goal of increasing this passenger volume by 50 % by 2008. The future of medium-term economic growth is quite definitely in the East – we are one of the major engines pushing forward Austrian and international trading relations in the new Europe.”