If there is no more capacity at WAW what are they supposed to do? Park the planes in a field until the expansion is complete? Don't forget that LO has managed to turn a profit meaning they can cover these costs by themselves... especially if they are getting some subsidies from the Hungarian side.
WAW’s capacity isn’t as maxed out as some make it out to be.
There are three capacity constraints at WAW: environmental, runway and terminal capacity limits.
Environmental capacity is set at 600 movements a day, this arbitrary limit is based on aircraft noise pollution levels from the early 2000s. Capacity will be increase after recalculation based on newer, quieter aircraft noise emissions.
Runway capacity is hourly, and only maxed out in the early morning(7-8am) and late afternoon(4-5pm). During the rest of the day runway capacity isn’t an issue.
Terminal capacity or more specifically, the availability of wide body gates, is only a problem during the early afternoon (1-4pm) during LO’s main l/h wave.
Firstly, the airport is undertaking action to increase each of these. Secondly, and specifically to BUD-JFK/ORD and it’s alleged justification based on WAW’s lack of capacity, LO already operates daily flights to both cities during its main departure l/h wave, so logically additional flights would occur earlier in the day(during an earlier departure wave) when widebody gates aren’t a problem.
Honestly, the “WAW and it’s purported lack of capacity” argument is used mainly as justification for construction of the new airport. That’s not surprising, it’s a vanity project for the current government, so politics and emotions trump reasoning in any political project. WAW is far from actually being maxed. There’s land around the airport to expand, the airfield still needs efficiency improvements, terminals can be expanded, and flights and aircraft capacity can be increased. WAW is very far from being maxed out like a LHR, JFK, LAX, Ataturk or a Kai Tak.
HU is an EU member, there’s a public tender process in place for allocating subsidies and operating PSO’s. There hasn’t been any tender issued for operating a hub or long haul routes from BUD. The only financial support LO can count on in BUD is airport fee reductions, which are available to any carrier starting new routes.
Everyone I think agrees that LOT needs to grow to survive. Until WAW gets its updates and visas are removed I think it’s smart for LOT to look for new markets and grow its brand name especially at a touristy destination like Budapest that doesn’t have much long haul service especially if Budapest pays for it. First though LOT needs to clean up its home first.
Not too long ago LO had to be bailed out by the PL government, it’s turned a profit less than a handful of times, and it’s most recent good fortunes have been mostly a product of cheaper fuel and good macroeconomic conditions. LO hasn’t demonstrated its operations are sustainable, we’ll find that out after the next downturn.
I find it interesting that if Alaska Airlines announced tomorrow that’s it’s going to base 20 787s in PDX, most would say AS lost their mind, but when the same is announced by some small European national carrier its accepted as reasonable. Mind you, Portland is both bigger population wise and economically than Warsaw and AS is a much, much bigger airline than LO.
At best, Warsaw could be a medium sized hub, but as we’ve seen in the US, medium sized hubs can’t compete with bigger hub economics and as consolidation progresses in Europe so to will similar pressure on smaller hubs.