Polish airline LOT will connect Warsaw with the US West Coast from April, 2017.
Although as yet there has been no official announcement, Business Traveller can reveal that Warsaw-based LOT will launch a four times a week non-stop service between Warsaw and Los Angeles on April 4.
The flight will be operated by a three-class B787 configured for business, premium economy and economy.
LOT would appear to be following in the footsteps of Vienna-based Austrian Airlines who recently announced that it too would launch flights to the US West Coast this coming April.
So Austrian Airlines will be providing the only non-stop link between Central Europe and Los Angeles while LOT will operate the only non-stop link (to the US West Coast) from a city in the former Eastern Europe.
Both routes can only succeed provided each airline sources sufficient connecting passengers.
We have already explained how Austrian Airlines (see link above) intends to do this.
Now LOT will be hoping that passengers will transfer at Warsaw when originating from Polish domestic points (such as Gdansk, Wroclaw and Krakow) and other cities in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States.
But LOT will not have the simple scheduling as seen at Austrian Airlines.
It is true that having different timings on some days increases the number of connection possibilities. But it may spell confusion for the point-to-point passengers.
On some days LOT departs Warsaw in the late morning and arrives in Los Angeles in the mod-afternoon. The return flight departs at tea-time to arrive back into Warsaw at lunchtime the following day.
On other days you leave Warsaw in the afternoon, arrive Los Angeles in the evening, return in the late evening and land back in Warsaw in the early evening of the next day.
Flight time is 12 hours, 20 mins for Warsaw-Los Angeles and 11 hours, 20 mins for Los Angeles-Warsaw.
So it’s a win-win for passengers. But the aviation industry must be worried about a possible transatlantic seat glut in 2017.
Together both Austrian Airlines and LOT will be adding over 2,000 each-way seats per week to just one, as yet unproven, route.
Traditionally these passengers would have flown (as they do right now) via one of several hubs in the Western part of mainland Europe.
For example, if bound for Los Angeles, it would be logical for LOT passengers to hop between Warsaw and Frankfurt from where they would continue non-stop with fellow Star Alliance carriers like Lufthansa or United.
Likewise Austrian Airlines passengers could route via Munich or Frankfurt using Lufthansa/United.
Of course, those passengers who are not locked into a Star frequent flyer programme would take, for example, Air France via Paris CDG, British Airways via London Heathrow or KLM via Amsterdam.
So it will be interesting to see how the US West Coast market develops in 2017.