‘Rising demand led to Incheon-Budapest operation’
LOT connects Asia from outside Poland for first time
LOT Polish Airlines has launched its Incheon-Budapest route, which marks the first time for the airline to connect an Asian country to a city outside of Poland.
“The launch of flights between Seoul and Budapest is yet another milestone in LOT’s history,” Rafal Milczarski, CEO of LOT, said in a press conference at the Courtyard by the Marriott Seoul Namdaemun, Monday.
“Our decision to launch non-stop flights between Budapest and Seoul shows how much we believe in Hungary as one of the key markets in Central and Eastern Europe for LOT. For the first time in its 90-year history, LOT is launching a connection to Asia from outside Poland.”
According to the airline, the tourism and business potential between Budapest and Seoul has surged with annual passenger traffic reaching 75,000, and the number of passengers traveling annually between Central and Eastern Europe and Seoul exceeding 580,000.
The CEO says the drastic increase in economic cooperation between Hungary and Korea in the last few decades was a key factor when deciding to launch flights to Budapest.
“The importance of the economic and friendly relationship between Hungary and the Republic of Korea, and because of the fact that it is the 30 year anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and Hungary, it was brought to our attention that this flight was really required by the Hungarian market,” he said.
“The government of Hungary really wanted to make the connection between Korea and the home market of those investments and provide a seamless connection to Hungary. This is what we have done.”
Despite the positive outcome of reaching a 95 percent load factor on its first flight from Budapest to Incheon last Sunday, Milczarski said he was worried the recent ferry disaster in Budapest in May, which took 25 Korean lives, could have a negative impact on the demand for flights to the Hungarian capital.
“There were concerns as there was an accident in Budapest and I was worried how it will impact potential demand. But I’m very happy and glad that despite the very tragic event Koreans still love Budapest, and the relationship is even stronger and they still love coming to central Europe,” he said.
The carrier provides three flights a week between the two destinations, departing Incheon at 7:35 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, using a Boeing 787-Dreamliner.
The airline has added Korean hospitality to provide a more comfortable atmosphere for Korean travelers.
“We attach a great importance to the concept of hospitality and this is why we have Korean cabin crew. We do have a variety of Korean and intercontinental dishes, we have a selection of Korean music and movies on our inflight entertainment,” the CEO said.
The Polish Airline is currently satisfied with the three operations per week but hopes to increase to daily flights in the future as quickly as possible. LOT, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, has drastically expanded its presence in recent years, from providing 41 routes in 2015 to offering 111 routes by the end of this year.
The number of passengers recorded 4.3 million in 2015 but is expected to surpass the 10 million mark this year, becoming the largest airline in the Central European region, according to the airline.
The Polish flagship carrier started operations between Poland and Korea in 2017 with three flights a week, but is now offering five flights per week between Incheon and Warsaw.
The government of Hungary really wanted to make the connection between Korea and the home market.
Rafal Milczarski, CEO of LOT Polish Airlines, gives a thumb up after a press conference at the Courtyard Marriot Seoul Namdaemun, Monday, to celebrate the airline’s launch of the Incheon-Budapest operation.
LOT Polish Airlines Boeing 787-9