LOT Polish Airlines CEO Sebastian Mikosz told (04-Jun-2013) CAPA on the sidelines of the IATA annual general meeting in Cape Town that the carrier’s long-haul operation will be back to normal by the end of Aug-2013 after being impacted for several months by the grounding of its 787 fleet. Mr Mikosz says LOT had to extend leases on its fleet of 767s and wet-lease aircraft in order to maintain its long-haul network after the global 787 fleet was grounded in Jan-2013. “It created a huge mess. The grounding for us was a much bigger problem than for other carriers,” Mr Mikosz says. Other 787 operators do not rely as heavily as LOT on the 787 for their long-haul operations. LOT resumed 787 operations on 01-Jun-2013 and currently has a fleet of three 787s. Mr Mikosz says LOT will have a fleet of five 787s by the end of Aug-2013. He says LOT’s sixth and final 787 will be delivered in 1H2014, allowing it to add in summer 2014 frequencies to New York and Chicago. The carrier currently serves four long-haul destinations, New York, Chicago, Toronto and Beijing, with a mix of 787s and 767s. The 767s are now slated to be phased out later this year.
IATA AGM 2013: LOT long-haul operation to return to normal in Aug-2013
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LOT Polish Airlines: now restructured, and long haul focus is on 2020 growth. Partnerships critical
On 8-Sep-2016 LOT Polish Airlines announced its "2020 profitable growth strategy". This involves a goal to achieve "sustainable viability", after a restructuring programme which returned LOT to operating profit in 2014 after six loss-making years. Its privatisation may even be back on the agenda.
LOT currently ranks behind LCCs Ryanair and Wizz Air by share of traffic in Poland, which offers superior traffic growth potential versus Europe as a whole. The airline aims to increase passenger numbers from 4.3 million in 2015 to 10 million in 2020, growing its fleet from 43 to 70 aircraft. LOT's expansion will focus on long haul, particularly North America and Asia, where it currently has only five routes and where competition is considerably lower than on short/medium haul. Initial plans include the launch of Warsaw-Seoul this winter and a return to Warsaw-New York Newark next summer.
According to data from LOT, its restructuring has left it with a fairly efficient cost base by legacy airline standards and this will be important in competing with LCCs (but there is still a cost gap with LCCs). LOT's growth will focus on long haul but will need short-haul European feed – and partnerships. Although LOT no longer appears to be considering leaving the Star Alliance, it remains excluded from American and Asian JVs. Further, those JVs preclude members from working with LOT. Partnership growth will be as critical as it will be challenging.