After the bankruptcy of the national carrier Air Slovakia on June 1. 2010, a brand new firm is ready to enter the market. Air Slovakia was formerly owned by an Indian businessman who transformed the airline into an exotic carrier that was not very much used by Slovak citizens. The airline consisted of one Boeing 737-200 (ex Southwest aircraft) and two Boeing 757-200 until it went bankrupt. The primary Hub was Bratislava International Airport (Letisko Milana Rastislava Stefanika).
The main destinations that were flown to were: Amritsar (India),Tel Aviv (Israel), Milano-Bergamo (Italy) and Barcelona-El Prat (Spain). Since the airline only operated two or three airplanes, the competitiveness against Ryanair or the no more existing Sky Europe who were also present at Bratislava airport, was very weak to almost non existent. Last but not least, during the holiday season when Slovaks did use the service of the airline it was almost never on time because of few planes available in the case one was not flyable. Therefore it is good that a new airline is ready to enter the market and offer Slovaks more travel choices directly from Bratislava airport.
The new airline that will begin operations on December 1. 2011, it will hold the name "Slovakian Airlines" and will operate three Boeing 737-500. The number of airplanes in the fleet is expected to grow more rapidly after the destination contracts are finalized. The board of directors of Slovakian Airlines is planning to target the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and Russia as their first destinations offered. According to the board " We chose the destinations for different reasons, economical reasons, competition weakening and passenger volume potential". One advantage for passengers flying to or from Slovakia is that they will have more choice when choosing their carrier. Today only Ryanair, CSA and Danube Wings offer flights from Bratislava. Another advantage is that employment in the aviation sector of the Slovak Republic will increase, after the shutdown of Sky Europe a lot of pilots, stewards, aircraft mechanics and airport employees lost their jobs because there was no replacement for Sky Europe. Most pilots and flight attendants are now working for Ryanair which took in people after the downfall of Sky Europe.
It will definitely be interesting to see how the new airline can compete in the fast moving market of the aviation industry. Bratislava as a home hub has advantages but also brings some disadvantages with itself. The airport is very close to the Vienna International Airport and is also geographically close to the Budapest Ferihegy International Airport. The main disadvantage is that many Slovak travelers got already used to flying from Vienna, where the competition of airlines is much bigger which for the passenger meant probability of lower prices for tickets. On the other hand, the main advantages are that if the destinations are attractive, corporations will want to create business contracts, passengers from Slovakia will welcome the saved money on the trips to Vienna or Budapest and last but not least the price competition at Bratislava Airport will increase because Ryanair will get forced to revise their prices from Bratislava. It will be very interesting to see what the airline can deliver, the potential is definitely there for a great airline to hit the sky.
This article was written by Roland Ondrus, an in-house aviation news editor for Fly Away Simulation.