flyLAL to go toe-to-toe with airBaltic

  • 2008-01-23
  • By Mike Collier

FLYING START: Puksta plans to shake up underperforming fyLAL

RIGA -- Lithuanian airline flyLAL-LithuanianAirlines has revealed an aggressive new strategy that it hopes will see it challenging Latvia's airBaltic for the market lead in the skies.

At a carefully-worded press conference - held in Riga - flyLAL set itself the goal of becoming "the fastest growingairline in the Baltic region"  that will "seek to take asignificant part of the market by offering the cheapest flights to themost popular destinations in Europe."

Becoming more bullish by the minute, flyLAL even talked about "becoming the number one airline inthe markets of the Baltic countries."

flyLAL CEO Tadas Puksta said: "Particular attentionwill be paid to the market in Latvia - the residents in this countrywill be offered possibilities to reach countries in Eastern and WesternEurope in a convenient way and at very attractive prices. We hope tohave 90.000 passengers in Latvia this year."

FlyLAL's accompanying press release went out of its way to take another indirect dig at airBaltic by talking about "additional and hidden fees (such as baggage registration fee)" on other carriers' flights. airBaltic recently introduced a baggage registration fee, which it said was intended to offset the rising cost of aviation fuel.

As of 30 March2008 flyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines launches a summer flight season whichwill offer flights to the 14 destinations in Europe:Vilnius, Milan, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Rome, Frankfurt, London,Dublin, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, Malaga, Kiev, and Moscow.

Flights will be operated via VilniusInternational Airport but passengers will be carried from Riga to Vilniusfour-times a day at workdays, once a day on Saturday and twice onSunday.

Prices will start from LVL 19 for flights to Vilnius,Milan, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Rome, Frankfurt, London, Dublin andPalma de Mallorca; while for flights to Kiev, Moscow, Barcelona andMalaga tickets will be available from LVL 45.

Tickets for flights from Riga will be on sale startingfrom February 4th on the website, as well as in tourismagencies.

In 2008 flyLAL aims to invest EUR 137 million in improved marketing and doubling its current fleet to 16 planes.

Puksta was keen to stress that the received image of the Lithuanian airline as drab, dirty and possibly unsafe was outdated. "Our specific competitive advantage is the best aircrafttechnical maintenance centre in the Baltic countries. All 16 aircraftsmust be in the best technical condition. For 17 years already we havebeen working with Boeing planes and we offer aircraft maintenanceservices even for the airlines of other countries. More than EUR 35million have been invested into passengers' safety."