New Delhi: Poland's flag carrier, LOT Polish Airlines, on Thursday started a direct flight from New Delhi to Warsaw, which is slated to fly five times a week, two-and-a-half decades after it discontinued its regular flight via Tashkent between the two capitals in 1994.
"We normally fly three weekly flights from new destinations. But, there is demand on this route, enough for us to start five weekly flights," said LOT Polish Airlines' chief executive Rafal Milczarski.
The airline, which is a part of Star Alliance, also has code share with Indian national carrier Air India.
"There is a huge potential of air travel -- almost 9.5 million passengers travelled between India and Europe and 3.3 million between Delhi and Europe during the last 12 months," Milczarski added.
LOT Polish Airlines, which flies Boeing 787, Boeing 737, and Embraer planes, has 72 aircraft in its fleet, according to the airline's website. This excludes 11 planes on its order books, 10 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft and one Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
The airline will fly the Boeing 787-8 and Boeing 787-9 between New Delhi and Warsaw. While LOT Polish Airlines' Boeing 787-8 planes have been configured with 252 seats, the airline's Boeing 787-9 planes are configured to have 294 seats.
"Under the bilateral arrangement, we can fly daily between the two capitals," Milczarski said, adding, "This will have to be reformulated in future."
Bilaterals are agreements between countries that allows each other's airlines to operate services with a specific number of seats.
LOT Polish Airlines will add another three Indian cities in future if the total number of seats between the two countries is increased under the bilateral agreement. Indian cities on the airline's radar include Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata.
"We want to have daily flights from New Delhi in future. It is also possible that Delhi could be twice daily (flights) from Warsaw," Milczarski added.
The airline could replace its Boeing 737 Max 8 fleet with other planes if the aircraft's grounding is prolonged, Milczarski said.
The airline's five Boeing 737 Max fleet is grounded, while another 10 such aircraft are yet to be delivered.
"The story (grounding of Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft) is unpleasant. We feel let down by the situation," he added.
Online travel portal Yatra expects booking enquirers for Eastern European destinations to increase with the introduction of direct flights between Poland and India.
“There has been a jump in bookings being made for Eastern Europe as destinations such as Poland, Hungary and Romania are getting popular on the radar of discerning Indian travelers. This addition of route will help in improving connectivity, open avenues for travelers to explore Poland in accordance to their budget, and even help widen cultural reach."said Sharat Dhall, COO(B2C), Yatra.com