Sólyom Hungarian Airways: Ready for Sunday or...?


BBJ hasn’t given space to would-be new national airline Sólyom Hungarian Airways lately, so based on minimal buzz this morning from a few local media outlets – but still no word on dates tickets go on sale – here’s what’s happening with the hugely ambitious enterprise. And what’s not happening.

Index, among others, is reporting the arrival and test flight of the first Boeing 737 bedecked in the Sólyom design on Sunday. Five more airplanes of the same make and model will be arriving this week. Aviatophobes will not be cheered by Index’s reminder that all six aircraft are 21-23 years old, have had two prior owners and that decommissioning has been considered; Magyar Nemzet had earlier reported via Sólyom sources that the airplanes had “recently undergone major refurbishment” since the incipient airline’s purchase from European Aviation Group.

No word from Index on when ticket sales for flights on Sólyom Hungarian Airways, which have been promised since July to be released on August 18 (i.e. this coming Sunday), will begin.

Speaking of Magyar Nemzet, while most local media are headlining today’s stories of Sólyom with variations on “Sólyom tickets may come slowly,” Nemzet is again taking its trademark positive stance on the airline, emphasizing that Sólyom would be issuing tickets soon – though no exact word on when ticket sales for flights would begin.

Though admitting that critical questions of business plan and investors’ backgrounds remain unanswered, editor Gyula Jámbor wrote a long piece devoted to his (and presumably his newspaper’s) hopes for Sólyom Airways’ success. The collapse of Malév was catastrophic for international business coming into Budapest, Jámbor argues, with the five-star hotel business among the industries to have felt the pinch after Malév was no more. While the demands of the tourist class have been met by Wizz Air and its competitors, wrote Jámbor, business-related travel offerings through Ferenc Liszt International Airport are still dismal.

Jámbor is unabashedly “rooting for [Sólyom director] Vágó József and his team,” and soon after this proclomation does his editorial adopt attack mode with tinges of nationalism ultimately dubbed “right-wing support” by the English-language website Budapost. With complaints about the latest “generation of liberal intellectuals” who foolishly suggest that “Sólyom” is a bit difficult for non-native Hungarian speakers to pronounce, Jámbor name-drops Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály along the way to concluding, “Perhaps they will forgive us if we keep our fingers crossed for the success of this Hungarian-owned airline.”

BBJ must state for the record that we belong to the “skeptical” category vis-à-vis Sólyom’s success, given the number-crunching on Sólyom’s projections undertaken by independent analystsin lieu of an actual publicly-available business plan.

Finally, those actually interested in, well, tickets to Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, London, Milan, Paris and/or Stockholm, are probably thinking what any 21st-century traveler might, i.e. why not simply check the Sólyom Hungarian Airways official website?

Right. Nothing new posted since August 1.

Sunday is four days away. 

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