Kaliningrad is Russia most Western located city, between Lithuania and Poland. It wants to exploit this location by becoming the gateway for flights into Russia.
The plan looks simple; take a lot of European and Russian destinations and make sure the timetables fit so passengers can easily connect. KD Avia is going to start big from June 15th. The airline is going to launch flights on this day to Amsterdam, London, Dusseldorf, Barcelona, Rome, Milan, Hamburg, Berlin, Hannover, Munich, Prague, Athens and Helsinki. From Kaliningrad passengers can fly to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rostov, Volgograd, Samara, Omsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Ufa, Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg, Tyumen and Astana.
To cope with all these passengers, KD Avia is investing in a large terminal at Kaliningrad Airport which will be finished in 2008. The terminal will be able to handle 5 million passengers per year and will be optimized for transfer passengers.
KD Avia is to operate their flights with B737-300's, which are fitted in a one class passenger lay-out. There will be no IFE and no Business of First Class. They want to start-up first and maybe adjust the product if there is enough demand.
KD Avia is going to have a fleet of 19 B737-300's, but wants to replace these planes with new B737-800's or A320's around 2014. They are talking with both planemakers. They also want to buy 5 to 8 widebody planes for long-haul flights, however they don't specify their widebodies yet.
For regional routes or for flights with less passenger demand, the company is looking for regional planes, including the new Sukhoi Regional Jet. KD Avia doesn't want to use Russian planes to Europe. Although planes like the Tupolev Tu-214 or the new Sukhoi comply with all the rules and are efficient, they are still Russian planes which isn't good for marketing according to the Commercial Director.
Looks like big plans, but I'm very curious to see if this is going to work... However, maybe if the prices are right, people are willing to transfer at Kaliningrad, but it remains to be seen. They are leaning heavily on business travelers, but I would think business travelers would spend a little more money to fly directly to their Russian destination in order to save time.
Photo © Sergey D.Starikov