Low-cost airlines more popular

LOT Airlines? passenger share of Poland?s market slipped from 36.5 percent in the first quarter of 2006 to 33 percent in the 2007 quarter in the face of continuing competition from low-cost carriers.
The decline was not nearly as precipitous as last year?s, however. LOT?s share plunged from 49 percent of the market in the first quarter of 2005 to 36.5 percent in the 2006 quarter. Although it lost passenger market share, LOT actually transported more passengers in the 2007 quarter, a reflection of the fact that Poland?s air-transportation market is expanding.It flew 1.12 mln passengers in the 2007 quarter versus 942,000 in 2006. LOT had twice as much passenger share in the first quarter of 2007 than each of its closest competitors, Ryanair and Wizzair. Dublin, Ireland-based Ryanair captured 15 percent of the market and Budapest-based Wizzair 14.5 percent. Altogether, airlines operating in Poland transported more than 3.4 mln passengers in the first quarter of 2007, a whopping 33 percent over the 2.6 mln in the 2006 quarter. Almost half of the 3.4 mln flew on low-cost carriers.
Warsaw-based LOT, one of the oldest airlines in the world, links both Warsaw and Krakow with eight other cities in Poland. The carrier, which was established in 1929, operates 50 international routes in Europe, North America and the Middle East.
In the first three months of this year LOT transported over 1 mln passengers. Ryanair, Europe?s largest low-cost airline, had 516,000 passengers. Wizzair, which focuses on Central Europe, had 496,000.
Both Ryanair and Wizzair have been growing rapidly in Poland. In the first quarter of 2007, Ryanair enjoyed a 140 percent increase in passengers from the 212,000 it flew in the same quarter of 2006. Wizzair?s passenger total jumped 25 percent from the 399,000 it transported in the 2006 quarter.
Wizzair has more connections than any international carrier operating in Poland ? 53. Ryanair has 32 connections, Sky Europe 21 and Norwegian Air Shuttle 15.
Warsaw has the most popular Polish airport for foreign carriers — 29 foreign airlines offer flights to and from the capital. The second popular is Krakow-Balice, served by 17 international carriers.

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