Wizz Air airplane370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Wizz Air, the popular low cost European airline that flies to 95 destinations in 35 countries announced that in the fall it would be adding new routes from Tel Aviv to Vilnius, Lithuania to Katowice, Poland and to Cluj, Romania.
The announcement was made at the Lithuanian National Day reception in Tel Aviv, that was hosted by the Lithuanian ambassador to Israel Darius Degutis.
Wizz, based in Hungary, plans to start bi-weekly flights to Vilnius and three weekly flights to Katowice this coming October. Starting in November it will add two weekly flights to Cluj.
Director of Communications for Wizz, Daniel de Carvalho, quipped at the reception that starting prices for a one way fare to Vilnius at around NIS 250, was not much more than what he paid in taxi fare from Ben Gurion Airport to the center of Tel Aviv.
De Carvalho clarified that the first few seats on each Wizz Air flight were available at a reduced fare.
He said that the Israel-EU "Open Skies
" agreement that was signed last month is what has made possible the increase in Wizz Air flights to Israel. The agreement allows EU airlines to operate direct flights to Israel from anywhere in the EU.
The airline has had a presence in Tel Aviv since December 2012. It currently flies daily to Budapest and three times a week to Bucharest from Tel Aviv.
De Carvalho estimated 200,000 people will be carried on Wizz Air's five Tel Aviv routes combined. The airline's hope was that Europeans would use the routes to come to Israel in the fall and winter to escape the weather when the thermostat plummets, and that Israelis would fly to get some relief from the broiling Middle Eastern summer sun.
But Eastern Europe has much more to offer Israelis than a pleasant climate. Hosting the largest Jewish populations in the world before being decimated in the Holocaust, many Israelis have roots there and it is popular for Israeli families to make family pilgrimages to see the places where their ancestors came from.
Whatever the reason for travel, it is hard to argue with lower air fare and Israelis will continue to welcome Wizz Air and other low cost European airlines as the Open Skies agreement begins to take off.