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Hungarian Malév: Air bridge between east and west

Airlines are focusing, ever greater attention on markets in Eastern Europe because, as the International Air Transport Association (IATA sees it, Russia and the countries of the CIS constitute one of the regions of the world bearing the greatest market potential. The rate of growth within this region far exceeds that of the established western markets. However, destinations in Russia and the CIS do not come under the European Open Skies agreement, thus market penetration is not easy for western airlines with intentions to expand eastward.

The rate of growth within this region far exceeds that of the established western markets. However, destinations in Russia and the CIS do not come under the European Open Skies agreement, thus market penetration is not easy for western airlines with intentions to expand eastward. In this respect Malév is in a special situation since the airline’s strategy specifically aims at carrying Russian passengers via Budapest on to the numerous destinations in the Malév European route network. The possibility of achieving this is considerably enhanced by the Russian stake in the airline’s new owner. Therefore, the Malév strategy gives considerable weight, both to the Hungarian carrier’s membership of the oneworld alliance and a further expansion into eastern markets including wider access to the Russian market. The dynamically developing Russian market holds out the potential of continuous expansion and growth projected many years into the future, a Malév press release states, which adds that the airline focuses not only on its traditional western destinations and Russia but the Ukraine, the Baltic States, Romania and Bulgaria, too.

As the first step in implementing this strategy Malév has already announced that as from the start of the summer timetable it is switching its Moscow service from Sheremetyevo to Domodedovo airport. In terms of traffic indicators, today Domodedovo is the leading airport in Moscow, and it provides Malév customers with access to virtually every major destination in Russia including many covered by the AiRUnion network. At the same time, it should not be forgotten that oneworld member airlines also fly in and out of Domodedovo International Airport.

The strategy makes sense because one of the key reasons Malév was admitted to the oneworld airline alliance early last year was because of its extensive and established route network in Eastern Europe, one of the fastest growing regions for air transport in the world. By opening towards Russia and the eastern markets this presence can only be strengthened. It would appear that the American award “Best Airline in Eastern Europe” presented to Malév early this year serves to confirm this assumption. This important international tribute is clear proof that passengers traveling on Malév aircraft are fully satisfied with this small (in comparison with the western giants) “Eastern European” airline, and it is considered a reliable aviation partner in the region. In this respect the oneworld logo on the fuselage of Malév aircraft is very significant, too. oneworld membership is at the same time a guarantee of quality service. Another factor serving to strengthen the brand, particularly among experienced travelers, was Malév’s listing among IATA IOSA registered airlines in 2006, which is considered the most comprehensive and most rigorous quality and safety audit in the industry.

Malév intends to establish a balanced route network structured on strong western and expanding eastern pillars through, first and foremost, more efficient utilization of the fleet and mutually advantageous agreements signed with partner airlines both eastwards and westwards.