Lot Polish Airlines has unveiled its 2020 profitable growth strategy, with plans to increase customer numbers to 10 million passengers per year.

The carrier says that the starting point of its growth plan involves “taking maximum advantage of the fact that the market of air services in Poland and Central and Eastern Europe is bound to grow at a much quicker pace than in other European countries”.

LOT estimates that that “in Poland alone the number of passengers is going to grow at about 5 per cent per year”, enabling the airline to “regain its lost market share in Poland” to around 25 per cent, and to increase annual passenger numbers from 4.3 million in 2015 to over 10 million in 2020.

Rafał Milczarski, CEO of Lot Polish said:

“Long-distance flights are the most profitable part of our business and being the only airlines in the region, LOT has the related growth potential. We are mostly going to focus on developing flights to North America and most important business centres in Asia.

“Connections to Central Asia and to the Middle East are particularly interesting from our perspective. Warsaw’s geographical location allows us to develop an unmatched offering of flights to countries such as Kazakhstan or Iran. We are going to take advantage of that potential.”

LOT will launch a new route between Warsaw and Seoul on October 17, followed by a “new” service to New York’s Newark next year, a route it has served previously.

“We are happy to return to Newark because it is an important connection to the Polish community,” said Milczarski.

“Newark is also an important interchange for passengers who continue their travel to other destinations in the United States and it simply extends our offering.”

LOT expects transfer passengers at Warsaw to reach 50 per cent by 2020, and will add short-haul flights to match this demand, but warns that Warsaw Chopin airport will also reach capacity in 2020, and Milczarski said that “In the years to come LOT is going to continue with developing its hub at the Warsaw Chopin Airport but ultimately its offering will have to be transferred to another, centrally located airport in Poland”.

The carrier also said that it plans “to compete on the market offering the best value for money”.

“LOT will no longer be perceived as [an] expensive airline,” said Milczarski.

“Travelling with LOT Polish Airlines can be inexpensive, plus we are capable of going beyond what other low-budget airlines can ensure, namely, for example, free checked baggage or free meals on board.”

LOT estimates that by 2020 it will have a fleet of 70 aircraft, including 16 Dreamliners and “approximately 15 new single-aisle planes with 150-plus seating capacity”.

The carrier said that it has begun implementing the new growth strategy, with 23 new flights launched this year, including a route to Tokyo, and added that in June “the company started to make money on its air services with a net profit on ordinary activities”.

The growth strategy comes after a difficult period for the airline in recent years – back in 2013 the carrier was forced to downsize, cutting staff and reducing the number of aircraft in its fleet.