Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Takeoff looking more likely for Sólyom (Falcon) Hungarian Airways


Though many observers (including this newspaper) have had doubts about the stated intention of a business to launch a substitute Hungarian airline, calling it a publicity stunt, the red-white-green Sólyom (Falcon) Airways may actually see its first take-off by the end of the year. 
There are still plenty of uncertainties but according to the daily Népszabadság the company has reached agreement with Budapest Airport to lease office space – which it will begin to use in a matter of days – and has signed a contract with a London-based company to lease six airplanes, the first of which will arrive in Hungary before 20 August.

“In the next few days we will let the government know that our plane would like to make an exhibition flight above the Danube on the national holiday,” Sólyom managing director József Vágó said. He declined to elaborate on the kind of planes they plan to use, but a design plan sent to Budapest Airport features an Airbus A320.

Népszabadság said former Malév pilots would probably be happier if the company opted for Boeing 737s because it would make their licenses easier to renew. The few details Sólyom has revealed so far have been ambitious: Middle Eastern businessmen will finance its first commercial flight as soon as August and then it aims to transport eight million passengers with a EUR 4 billion, 50-plane fleet by 2017. Per year, this is nearly triple the number of passengers Malév carried before it collapsed.

Significant customer demand for budget airline’s connection between Budapest and the Yorkshire city of Leeds following the initial operation in 2012 will see it relaunch the service on Thursdays and Sundays next April. “As the only company to be offering flights and vacation breaks to Budapest direct from Leeds Bradford Airport we are confident it will be a great success,” CEO Steve Heapy said this week. Barring any change, Leeds Bradford will be eighth British airport – following Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol, Stansted, Gatwick, Luton and Heathrow – to be connected with the Hungarian capital.