On June 30th, an Air Lituanica E170 with 73 passengers departed Vilnius Airport at 18:30 for the 2 hour and 20 minute trip to Brussels. It was the inaugural flight for the airline’s new 76-seat E-Jet which it has leased from Estonian Air until the end of 2015. The Brussels Airport authorities saluted the E170’s return to Vilnius with a traditional water cannon escort as the aircraft departed.
Air Lituanica is marketing its flights jointly with Estonian Air through an agreement that gives the Lithuanian carrier access to nearly 100 cities in the combined network. The carrier’s fleet is planned to grow to five E-Jets that will offer regularly scheduled flights on 13-16 city pairs by 2015 and carry 600,000-700,000 passengers annually. The additional aircraft will be acquired through ECC Leasing of Dublin. The first E170 is flying between Vilnius and Brussels and Amsterdam. In August, Air Lituanica plans to add Berlin Tegel and then expand its network to Prague, Munich and Moscow later this fall.
The airline’s Chief Commercial Officer, Somonas Bartkus, believes that there is an opportunity for E-Jet- type capacity to serve lower-demand routes. “There is a gap in the market between foreign legacies flying to Vilnius at often inconvenient times for business travellers and LCCs offering a high number of seats on 2.5-3-hour segments with low-frequency schedules. We want to fill this gap.”