VILNIUS - New Lithuanian company Star1 Airlines has received all clearances and has started flights between Vilnius and London (Stanstead), Dublin and Girona (Barcelona).
The airline's new routes, which have been running since the beginning of July, plug holes in the destinations that were left unfilled after the FlyLAL debacle at Vilnius International Airport earlier this year.
"Everything is going to plan. Flights to Dublin are going better than expected. We are happy with the results. At the end of summer we are going to get another Boeing. Routes are to be added, [with] more frequency to London, Milan and Paris. We are also going to do charter flights," Marynas Laivys, Star1 CEO, told The Baltic Times.
The airline is starting small, with three weekly flights to Dublin, four weekly flights to London and two weekly flights to Girona. Currently the airline only has one aircraft 's a Boeing 737-700.
Star1 is only selling tickets on its own Web site and only for the summer season. Laivys said that the quick pace of their success left them little time for long term planning, but said the company will soon be available through travel agents and the winter program will soon be available.
At the moment, flights can only be booked until September for all routes.
Including taxes, return flights to and from London cost between 200-300 euros 's competitive with those offered by airBaltic, which require a connection in Riga.
Laivys said the company would not try to compete with airBaltic directly, but instead focus on a slower expansion.
"We are not comparing [ourselves] with FlyLAL. We are not like them and airBaltic 's it is another story. They just want to increase flight programs whenever they can, but this is not our aim."
"We want to be quality, stable and all development will be financially orientated. We don't need to be a big company here because the market is very small. We want to be the best by quality and the most stable in the Baltics," Laivys said.
"We are not cheap in our philosophy because we are trying to achieve the best service 's that's why we took a next generation machine flying higher and faster. Its not a miracle, but the insides are better and the same from the technical side."
Part of Star1's business model is to cooperate with tour operators owned by the same company, so that the tour operators always have seats and the airline always has clients.
"This is not a new idea 's it is something that has been successful in Western Europe," Laivys said.
Star1 Airlines belongs to Star Team Group, which also owns new tour operator Star Holidays, which operates flights to Turkey.
According to the company's Web site, Star1 Airlines was established in 2009 when the holding company Star Team Group purchased the company HC Airways for the purpose of promoting and developing inbound and outbound tourism in Lithuania.
Star1 is the second airline to start flights to Vilnius following the bankruptcy of FlyLAL in January. Swedish airline Skyways began flights to Lithuania in June.