Lot Polish Airlines, which generally start thrice a weekly flight for any new long-haul routes, has announced 5 weekly flights on India route. The airline is also working closely with the Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India to bring inbound tourists from Europe.
You are going to launch New Delhi- Warsaw service from September 17. What kind of response you are expecting from this service keeping that there are many carriers flying between India and Europe?
So far, there has been no direct connectivity between India and Central Europe. Given the strong trade relations between India and Poland and growth of both countries, there was a need for connectivity between these two countries. Generally, when Polish Airlines starts any new long-haul routes, they start with 3 flights a week. In case of India, based on our business case, projection and anticipated demand, we have decided to start with 5 weekly flights already. This already shows the confidence and trust we have in the Indian market as well as other points of sale to sell this flight. This flight will probably be catering to those who want to go to Central Europe. We offer seamless connectivity to many European destinations via Warsaw. We welcome any competition and from our perspective, looking at the current size of the Indian market and projected growth, I think that the market is big enough to cater to more carriers and that why our strategic decision is that India has been defined as a very strategic market for Lot Polish Airlines.
What would be your strategy to divert Indian traffic to Central European destinations?
We are member of Star Alliance. There are certainly benefits for frequent flyers. We are a full service network carrier. We offer seamless transfer experience at Warsaw airport. The minimum connecting time is 40 minutes in Warsaw. You have hassle free transfer experience. Also, our Delhi schedule is designed in such a way that within two hours, passengers have connectivity to almost 40 cities. Moreover, the quality of product we feature and its going to be three class of service: Business, Premium Economy and Economy. This is also the value proposition that other carriers may not have. When you travel Premium Economy, you will be sitting on the Premium Economy for the entire journey. At Lot, we have a dedicated Premium Economy class to your final destination. This is where we differentiate ourselves from the competition.
How do you plan to tap the catchment traffic?
We are currently the fastest growing airline in Europe. For 2019 which is our 90th birthday as well, we expect to carry more than 10 million passengers for the first time. Its more than twice the traffic we had 4 years ago. We have doubled the number of passenger and aircraft. We have gradually increased the number of destinations too. Given the focus on quality, network and benefit of being member of Star Alliance, we see the opportunity. Poland is the central Europe’s largest aviation market. It is an untapped market where we feel we have a role to play. There is no other long-haul network carrier in Central Europe. Baltic States do not have one. Hungary does not have one. Czech Republic flies only thrice a week to Seoul. This is the natural catchment area. Poland has a population of 38 million but the whole catchment area in Central Europe has a population of 180 million. This is the catchment area where we have been growing very strongly and we intend to position ourselves as a primary choice for the Central European guests.
What sort of India centric services that you will be offering on this route?
We will have Indian meals on board. We will be having Indian cabin crew on board. There will be assistance provided at Warsaw airport for those passengers who will require assistance. We will make sure that it will be a hassle free and pleasant experience. We focus very strongly on products. We have the latest B787 aircraft to be deployed into the India market.
What sort of occupancy are you expecting on this route?
In the first year of operation which will be only 4 months of this year, our objective is to bring another alternative to the Indian consumer. We want to bring another Star Alliance alternative to consumer. There are multiple options to Europe on various alliances but we want to bring another alternative. We will cater to the different segments of the market. We will also have introductory fare and programme for small and medium size companies. Right now, we are not focusing much on seat load factor because the flight will be sold in Europe, North America and India. So, there will be multiple markets selling the flights. We want to adequately position ourselves as a full service, quality, and Star Alliance product to the India market.
Is there any plan to connect more Indian destination?
If the forecast and business projections materialize, we are willing to increase Delhi frequency for sure. We have sufficient number of B787 Dreamliner coming into the fleet this year and for the next 4 years the aircraft orders have been placed. We are looking into newer destinations across the world we would like to fly to. Indian market has been defined as a strategic market. Our intention to India for middle to long terms is bigger than just Delhi.
There will be mainly business traffic. Are you planning to be associated with Polish Tourism Organisation or other neighboring tourism boards to grab the leisure Indian outbound traffic as well?
Whenever any airline goes to a new country, it is also an objective to promote your home country as a leisure destination. We would like to give a new destination to Indian outbound leisure market which is Poland, Baltic States, Hungary. We work closely with Polish National Tourist Office but we also engage very strongly with other national tourism offices. On the flip side, we are also working with Dept of Tourism, Govt of India as an European outbound destination to bring Indian inbound from Europe.