What’s the smallest city in Europe with non-stop wide-body flights to North America? If you guessed Rzeszów, Poland (population 186,000) then you’re paying way too much attention to airline route announcements and Polish geography. LOT Polish Airlines intends to fly between Rzeszów and Newark once weekly starting in April 2018, delivering the first transatlantic route for the airport and a rather unexpected connection between regions.
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) December 8, 2017
LOT’s new service will fly eastbound on Sunday night arriving on Monday morning. It will return to Newark westbound on Monday afternoon. This slots the aircraft into a destination rotation at Newark rather than in Poland. Warsaw is the destination from Newark five days per week. Presumably the Rzeszów service would replace one of the Warsaw trips but that’s not what the schedule shows thus far. LOT is selling two flights departing Newark at the same time instead. I expect that will change as this new schedule propagates through the system.
The new service is not the only “strange” route LOT is operating across the Atlantic for the Summer 2018 season. The carrier will also fly from Budapest to Chicago and New York’s JFK Airport. In both cases LOT is the only airline operating on the route; neither will be daily service. JFK flights will run 4x weekly while O’Hare sees 2x weekly service. Non-stop flights between Budapest and the United States have not operated consistently since Hungarian national carrier Malev halted operations in 2012. Even prior to that it wasn’t always an option.
The new routes are LOT’s latest effort to increase utilization of its expanding 787 fleet. Earlier operations included leasing the 787s to Finnair and Air Europa, generally for a few months at a time to fill in where scheduled maintenance required the other airlines’ planes to be out of service.
But LOT is also growing its fleet. The carrier will take three new 787-9s starting in 2018 (assuming the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 issues don’t cause delays there) to increase lift on its main routes between Warsaw and Chicago/New York. The company also has six new 737 MAX 8 aircraft coming; the first already joined the fleet. Among the new routes the 737s will fly this Spring is another new destination from Rzeszów: Tel Aviv. LOT’s President Rafał Milczarski suggests that the new service will provide vacation options for residents in Southern Poland and also carry Israelis to visit more of Poland.
Sadly award inventory does not appear to be loaded in the system for the new route yet. The Warsaw service has economy space available on a number of days, including the Sunday departures that seem likely to be swapped for the Rzeszów route. If you’re willing to gamble on that (or have free award changes) and really want the line this could be a way to snag it.
Header image: SP-LRF Air Europa Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner operated by LOT Polish Airlines departing via Rwy14R to Miami (KMIA) @ Madrid – Barajas (LEMD) / 21.08.2015 by Oliver Holzbauer via Flickr/CC VY-SA 2.0
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