LOT Polish Airlines announced plans today to launch non-stop flights from Budapest to Chicago and New York City starting in May 2018, according to MTI, Hungary’s state news wire.
The flights will be Budapest’s first year-round connection to North America since late 2007, when Malév Hungarian Airlines terminated service from Budapest to New York City and Toronto. Currently, Air Canada Rouge is the airport’s only link to North America, operating a seasonal service to Toronto.
Flights will operate to New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport four times a week (on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays), while flights to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport will operate twice a week (Tuesdays and Saturdays). Flights are currently on sale on LOT’s website; the first flight to New York City departs May 3rd, 2018, while the first flight to Chicago departs June 5th, 2018.
Both routes will be flown with a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, which will be based at Budapest Airport. The airline reportedly will operate these flights with Hungarian crews, and is expected to begin hiring soon.
“More than 165,000 passengers travel between Budapest and New York and Chicago every year,” said Rafał Milczarski, LOT’s CEO. “Today, they change mainly in Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, and London, which makes their journey considerably longer.” According to the airline’s analysis, the flights will be accessible to over eight million people who live within a two-hour drive of Budapest Airport, and will target those living not only in Budapest, but other Hungarian cities, eastern Austria, Slovakia, western Romania and those in the Balkans.
LOT also said that the move “marks another stage of market consolidation in Central and Eastern Europe, of which LOT is becoming an undisputed leader.” However, the airline also stressed that the new flights will supplement flights from Warsaw, instead of competing with them.
This latest announcement comes as LOT continues to expand its reach, launching flights to Tokyo and Seoul last year, and beginning flights to Los Angeles earlier this year. The airline also re-instated flights between Krakow and Chicago this summer. With seven Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the fleet and an additional five on order, there is no doubt that LOT will continue to expand soon, with flights to Washington D.C. and destinations throughout Asia rumored to be announced in the next few years.
Featured image by LOT Polish Airlines, H/T: Budapest Business Journal