Romania’s biggest airline Blue Air announced that it will be launching eight new routes out of three Romanian airports in summer 2020: Bucharest, Iași and Bacau. The flights will be destined for Athens, Birmingham, Copenhagen, Larnaca, Munich, Oslo, Stuttgart and Verona.
Simple Flying previously took a look at Blue Air last year. This is an Eastern European low cost airline based in Bucharest’s Henri Coandă International Airport.
It was founded in 2004 and is now the biggest Romanian airline by passenger numbers as a result of significant growth. Between 2014 and 2016 alone the carrier increased passenger numbers by 150%.
Meanwhile, the state-owned TAROM is the flag carrier for Romania but carries significantly fewer passengers. In fact, TAROM recently requested the Romanian government to give it a 150 million Euro subsidy.
TAROM is unprofitable, partly because it has a fleet that is not unified. It has just 25 aircraft in service but of eight different models manufactured by three different aircraft manufacturers.
Blue Air, on the other hand, has a completely unified fleet. It has 22 Boeing 737 aircraft, consisting of models 737-300, 737-400, 737-500 and 737-800.
The new routes – from Bucharest
From Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport (OTP), Blue Air will be flying to Munich International Airport (MUC) four times weekly starting on 15 June.
Blue Air will be competing against TAROM and Lufthansa. There is alreadt a lot of capacity on the route, with Lufthansa sending an Airbus aircraft three times daily and TAROM flying the B737 up to twice daily. Blue Air will be looking to capture price sensitive consumers, with its ticket prices currently selling for a fraction of Lufthansa’s and TAROM’s.
Flights are already bookable via Blue Air and various travel agencies.
The new routes – from Bacau
Flights are also bookable from Bacau, from George Enescu International Airport.
Blue Air already operates nine routes out of Bacau, and in 2020 it will add a further six: Athens, Birmingham, Copenhagen, Larnaca, Oslo and Stuttgart.
On all of these flights out of Bacau, Blue Air will face no competition. All routes will be operated twice weekly.
The new routes – from Iași
From Iași International Airport, Blue Air will launch a three-weekly service to Verona Villafranca Airport in Italy. Flights start on 16 June 2020 and Blue Air faces no competition on the route.
What does this mean for Romania?
Romania is one of the countries in Europe that benefits most from low cost carriers. It is a country with average incomes significantly lower than those in most of the other European Union states.
It is also a country with very high emigration levels, and at the same time it is geographically distant from the richer Western European economies that Romanians mostly emigrate to.
As such, it is fertile ground for a low-cost carrier aviation model – there is a lot of demand for travel due to migration, but it is highly price sensitive.
As Blue Air keeps expanding, in both niche markets and on routes that TAROM already serves, will it eventually edge out TAROM out of Romania? If the EU does not allow Romania’s government to give TAROM financial support, it might.