Malév Is Dead, Long Live Low Cost Carriers?

  • 9 Feb 2012 12:00 AM
Malév Is Dead, Long Live Low Cost Carriers?
<a href="" target="blank">The predictable passing of Malév</a> triggered rapid expansion announcements from both Ryanair and Wizz Air. SmartWings, Air Berlin and others have added flights, with more low cost carriers positioned to pounce. All good for budget travelers as prices are driven down via increased competition. More consumer choice is usually good, but given the economic climate will it be a no frills future for the airline market in Hungary? <br><br> The curt closure of one of Europe’s oldest airlines is sad news for some, particularly 7,000+ stranded passengers and 2000+ employees of the Hungarian flag carrier. Industry experience indicates, and as current events are demonstrating, the majority of services handled by Malév will soon be taken over by existing airlines; and new carriers ready to gamble on niche routes from Budapest.
  • Ryanair confirmed it will base 4 new Boeing 737-800 planes at Budapest Airport commencing Friday 17th February, with 31 routes added and new fares starting from EURO 9.99.
  • Wizz Air will soon raise its fleet to five by adding two Airbus A320 aircraft to its Budapest base, home of the largest low fare - low cost airline in Central and Eastern Europe.
  • contacted to announce an increase in capacity to Manchester, to remind expats they fly also directly to Edinburgh, and that has a new route from Budapest to Leeds Bradford starting soon.
  • Low-cost carrier SmartWings is to start flights from Budapest to Tel Aviv later this month, then Paris in April and more European destinations this May.
  • Air Berlin will now be adding a flight to Budapest, plus Germany\'s biggest airline Lufthansa will add a daily flight from Hamburg and Berlin to Budapest.
  • Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, easyJet and LOT the Polish Airline may all increase the frequency of services to and from Hungary.
  • Air France-KLM and British Airways immediately increased capacity to deal with the Malév collapse, however that may only be a temporary measure.

No Frills Future?

As familiar names in the air industry pass away there are always fresh faces appearing, such as Nordic budget carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle. This lesser-known airline has a message to affected Malév passengers on the front of its website. It has also just placed one of Europe's biggest-ever aircraft orders to support an ambitious expansion plan.

That growth news from wealthy Norway comes soon after Europe's largest airline by revenue, Air France-KLM, said it will cut over a billion Euros from an expansion plan and reduce its fleet.

Only time will tell which services permanently replace the huge hole in the Hungarian market left by Malév, and what choice in terms of quality will ultimately be available. Certainly recent developments bode well for budget air travel to and from Budapest, and for low-cost carriers in the current dogfight between airlines old and new.

Wizz Air HUF 25 Billion Investment In Budapest

Wizz Air now plans to invest a total of USD 100 million into expanding its operations in Budapest.

It has increased projections for the number of annual passengers from 1.4 million to 2 million. This will result in the addition of approximately 700 direct and associated jobs in Hungary.

The locally based low-cost airline plans to launch one new route and increase the frequencies on several existing routes. The number of available flights per week will nearly double from 67 to 129.

Ryanair 'Rescue Plan for Budapest'

Budget carrier Ryanair is apparently still in discussions with Budapest Airport and the Hungarian government to finalise its plan which aims to save around 2,000 jobs, and replace most of the traffic and routes lost due to the collapse of the national carrier.

The Irish low-cost airline currently employs over 700 Hungarian pilots and cabin crew, and will be holding an open recruitment day in Budapest to invite job applications from Malev pilots, cabin crew and engineers to help gear up for its new base in Budapest.

Ryanair is well-known for its rapid expansion, a result of deregulation in the European aviation industry and the success of its 'no-frills' business model. Last month Michael O’Leary announced five new Ryanair routes from Budapest would start in March, yesterday the company named 31 routes with low fares from Budapest starting this month.

Photo by Mark Milstein

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