Romania’s AirConnect To Launch ATR 72 Flights In October

  • Turboprop ATR Getty

    ATR

    Business Type:
    Planemaker

    Date Founded:
    00-00-1981

    CEO:
    Stefano Bortoli

    Headquarters Location:
    Toulouse, France

Poised as the new Romanian regional airline based on a fleet of ATR 72-600 aircraft and with an ambition of becoming one of the most significant turboprop operators in the region, AirConnect seems ready to commence its delayed launch in October as it puts the first few regular flights on sale.

The airline startup initially planned to begin flying during the summer but has since pushed back its launch date due to logistical issues. After receiving its first aircraft and having advertised for the workforce through its recruitment drives, AirConnect is now ready to take off during the autumn season on October 15th.

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Flying from Bucharest

Budapest

From its hub, the Romanian regional carrier has activated five destinations, including four Romanian cities and the Hungarian capital, Budapest. Interestingly, Budapest is the first of the nine destinations that AirConnect will fly to, with a twice-weekly schedule.

Flight number Departure time Arrival time Frequency
KS 1201 (OTP – BUD)
KS 1202 (BUD – OTP)

With its lighter structure, optimized speed, and engines designed for short sectors, the ATR 72-600 is the most fuel-efficient regional aircraft for an airline startup like AirConnect. Photo: AirConnect

Suceava

The following route to be launched is Bucharest-Suceava, which begins on October 16th and has an impressive schedule of five times weekly. With a seating capacity of 68 passengers on its ATR 72-600, Air Connect can offer approximately 680 seats weekly on this route.

Flight number Departure time Arrival time Frequency
KS 1101 (OTP – SCV)
  • Mondays & Wednesdays
  • Thursdays
  • Fridays
  • Sundays
KS 1102 (SCV – OTP)

Targu Mureș

Flight services to the City of Roses will also be established on October 16th, but with a smaller schedule compared to Suceava, as Air Connect currently offers three-times-weekly flights to Târgu Mureș.

Flight number Departure time Arrival time Frequency
KS 1107 (OTP – TGM)
  • Tuesdays
  • Thursdays
  • Sundays
KS 1108 (TGM – OTP)

Baia Mare

Then comes the launch of the Bucharest-Baia Mare route on October 17th, with the Romanian airline startup planning for an initial twice-weekly schedule to offer an estimated 272 seats to one of the most important mining centers in Romania.

Flight number Departure time Arrival time Frequency
KS 1103 (OTP – BAY)
KS 1104 (BAY – OTP)

Sibiu

And the final destination from Bucharest features a thrice-weekly flight service to the historical Romanian town of Sibiu, known for its Germanic architecture in the old town. The regional startup will offer just over 400 seats per week to Sibiu.

Flight number Departure time Arrival time Frequency
KS 1105 (OTP – SBZ)
  • Mondays & Wednesdays
  • Fridays
KS 1106 (SBZ – OTP)

AirConnect capitalizes on connecting unattended routes using its lower-capacity ATR 72-600. Photo: AirConnect

Opening up more routes within Romania

It would seem that AirConnect aims to connect under-utilized city pair routes with its lower-capacity ATR 72-600s, as besides an ambitious planned start from Bucharest, AirConnect also opened up routes from Cluj, Constanta, Oradea, Suceava, Târgu Mureș, and Timisoara, whereby Budapest will also be connected via Cluj, and the rest is concentrated in varied domestic connections.

The launch of the regional carrier could prove fruitful in current circumstances when the Romanian aviation industry is experiencing the same worldwide chaos, plagued by flight cancellations and delays. Already, more than 7,000 flights were delayed or canceled this year at Otopeni Airport, and the airline startup is confident in not contributing to that growing number, as emphasized by Tudor Constantinescu, General Manager of AirConnect:

“We focus on quality services at affordable prices to become the first travel option for tourists on the regional flights’ segment.”

However, AirConnect would have to compete with Romanian flag carrier TAROM, which also operates a mix of ATR 42-500s and 72-600s, alongside a good mix of Boeing 737s. AirConnect hopes to win over some of TAROM’s passengers by offering much lower fares for some of its shared city pairs, such as a starting price of €33.07 ($32.95) for the Bucharest-Suceava route compared to TAROM’s starting price of €78.40 ($78.13) .

AirConnect’s sole ATR 72-600 was leased from Aergo Capital. Photo: AirConnect

Plans for a growing fleet

While the routes offered by the Romanian regional startup seem decent for a start, AirConnect still only operates one aircraft at the moment. Received on July 7th at Bucharest Băneasa International Airport, the ATR 72-600, registered YR-ACA, is currently just over eight years old and previously flew for Islena Airlines and Avianca Express before finding a new home with AirConnect. Although the lone aircraft could soon be joined by new additions, according to the airline startup, it plans to receive another aircraft sometime in September or October, followed by another two within the next year.


Source: Aviationonline

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