Interview: Daily Beijing-Warsaw flights to boost bilateral ties, Polish Airlines CEO
2019-11-17 09:32 | Xinhua

WARSAW, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- Poland's flag carrier LOT Airlines plans to operate seven flights a week between Warsaw and Beijing as of January 2020, boosting business and people-to-people connections between Poland and China.

The daily links between Warsaw and Beijing are made possible by the newly built Beijing Daxing International Airport, as LOT flights will be servicing both the Beijing Capital International Airport and the Beijing Daxing International Airport, Rafal Milczarski, the LOT Airlines CEO told Xinhua in a recent interview in Warsaw.

"A greater number of flights between the capitals of Poland and China will help improve connections between those two cities, and will facilitate travelling, including for business and tourism purposes," Milczarski told Xinhua.

"Both countries' cultural heritage is very interesting and new connections bring new opportunities," Milczarski added. "A daily flight will allow us to tighten business relations and can become a catalyst for economic exchange between the two countries."

"Our flights from and to Beijing Capital International Airport and the Beijing Daxing International Airport have excellent connections to our flights to different destinations all over Europe and we hope that they will allow to boost traffic not only between the two countries but also between China and the EU," he said.

The LOT CEO said he hoped to double the number of flights to 14 a week, as soon as slots in Beijing become available and, later on, reach as many as 21 per week when Poland's Central Port of Communication, planned to be built between capital Warsaw and central city Lodz, is ready.

"The Chinese market is important to us. It is our ambition to become a gateway for the traffic from China to this part of Europe, that is, the area between the Baltic Sea, the Adriatic Sea and the Black Sea, which has a population of 180 million," Milczarski said.

According to data provided by LOT, in 2018, passenger traffic on the Warsaw-Beijing route reached 71,500, 36 percent of which was handled by LOT. Some 38,500 people travelled to and from Shanghai. Total passenger traffic between China and Poland amounted to 185,000, including nearly 14 percent serviced by LOT.

Milczarski says LOT is "the most active and dynamically growing airline in central Europe" and explains that a return to profitability in recent years was caused by a growth strategy relying on strengthening the network of connections to and from Warsaw.

Compared to 41 connections in 2015, LOT is now offering 111 connections to various destinations worldwide, and the company is investing in expanding and modernising its fleet, including when it comes to wide-bodied aircraft for long-haul flights. Milczarski said he planned to have acquired 17 new Boeing 787 Dreamliners by spring 2020.

In order to expand its operations, LOT would have to fly, additionally to Warsaw, from both Budapest in nearby Hungary and the Central Port of Communication in central Poland as soon as it is ready.

"We have been observing China's new airports with interest and are willing to benefit from China's experience gathered at the stage of their design and construction," Milczarski said, adding that the design of Beijing Daxing International Airport was "excellent" and passengers would "certainly grow to like it".

"We have seen opportunities for partnership and benefiting from Chinese know-how at the stage of designing the Central Port of Communication," he added.

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