Aug.19 - A new Hungarian airline called Solyom plans to launch charter flights in September, and hopes to fill the gap left by Hungarian flag carrier Malev which collapsed last year. Ciara Sutton reports.
It's first chartered flights are set for next month, with scheduled flights beginning in October - new Hungarian airline Solyom is setting its sights high. The company's chief executive Jozsef Vago says it plans to expand its fleet to 50 plus aircraft within the next few years. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CEO OF SOLYOM AIRWAYS, JOZSEF VAGO, SAYING: "Within two weeks we will open our online sales and then everybody will know our destinations, the first 22 destinations." Solyom Hungarian Airways is owned by three businessmen including Vago, and wants to fill in a gap left by the collapse of Hungarian national flag carrier Malev last year. It says investors from Oman and the United Arab Emirates have committed to funding the airline. But industry experts say the newcomer will have a tough job in the highly competitive market. Airlines including Wizz Air and Ryanair have already picked up some of Malev's destinations from Budapest. (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) AIRLINE INDUSTRY EXPERT, GABOR G. VARGA, SAYING: "The biggest question is who will travel with this airline, and not specifically with Solyom but who will travel with any Hungarian airline. After the bankruptcy of Malev in 2012 February the cheap airlines and the big international companies have allegedly filled up the market. Whether this is really so will become clear now. At the same time, it's a big question whether the Hungarian market can be a basis for a successful premium airline from Budapest." Solyom expects to have 12 aircraft by the end of 2013 and 1,500 employees within a year. And next year it plans to add flights to North America and China. But European airlines have been hit hard during the euro zone debt crisis - slashing costs in the face of higher fuel charges and competition from low cost rivals.