Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sólyom Airways’ big plans suffer setback

Since Malév Hungarian Airlines closed its doors in February 2012, smaller airlines such as Wizz Air have managed to increase their presence and international profile by filling the large gap left in flight schedules from Liszt Ferenc International Airport. The newest name to enter into the air-transport business is Sólyom Hungarian Airways, a company with big plans despite its just having opened offices at Liszt Ferenc.

Sólyom director József Vágó announced his company’s leasing of six aircraft for its fleet last week and ticket sales will begin in August, though the company has yet to release a flight schedule. Sólyom also released the first photos of its Airbus A320 craft, which features the familiar Hungarian tri-color on the tail fin along with a stylized version of the turul, a mythic bird of national folklore similar to the falcon from which the airline gets its name. 

Along with the announcement, Vágó also laid out the company’s plans for expansion: Sólyom will begin with 350 to 400 employees and plans to raise that number to 700 in August. In 2014, Sólyom expects to transport 3 million passengers, and by 2017, the airline’s 50 aircraft will be carrying 8 million.

Those plans seem to have suffered something of a setback, however, as Hungary’s National Transportation Authority (NKH) has rejected the application of Sólyom Investment and Asset Management Inc. for commercial air transport permits. Sólyom had previously acquired Avicraft Kft in hopes of employing that company’s licenses for Sólyom Airways. While Avicraft’s license covers small aircraft, it is not valid for commercial air transport, judged the agency, and the application must be resubmitted for consideration.

Sólyom Airways is financed by investors from the United Arab Emirates and Oman, and is owned by three private individuals in Hungary.