Belavia - Belarusian Airlines has launched a new route connecting Minsk to the Austrian capital, Vienna. However, the airline is inaugurating this service despite the coronavirus pandemic which has caused a significant drop in demand.
The route will operate daily with an Embraer E175 which has capacity for 76 passengers.
Anatoly Gusarov, Director General of JSC Belavia-Belarusian Airlines said: “The opening of this flight will contribute to establishing and strengthening of trade, economic and cultural relations between Belarusian and Austrian partners, as well as in view of the current situation in the world, it will facilitate the return of citizens of both countries to their homes. The flight to Vienna is the first step towards the return to the usual way of life."
The Minsk to Vienna connection was originally due to inaugurate on 29 March, however this was pushed back. This, surprisingly, was 'due to the refusal of the aviation authorities of the Republic of Austria to give permission to Belavia for regular flight operation on this route, despite the fact that Belavia-Belarusian Airlines has performed all the necessary accreditation procedures and obtained slots at Vienna airport'.
Belavia has also reduced prices on the route. In January, when Belavia announced the route, it offered one-way tickets for €174 and a return trip from €234. Now, however, following the launch of the route, Belavia has priced the flights at €69 for a one way trip and €146 for a round trip flight.
"The actual COVID-19 crisis has a very strong impact on the whole aviation and tourism industry all over the world. But like in other crisis in the past such as SARS, Ebola or 9/11 travel and aviation business came back stronger than before. So it may take some time but I'm optimistic that aviation business will recover and the new flight service form Belavia to Vienna marks a first step into that future," explained Julian Jäger, Joint CEO and COO of Vienna Airport.
We're seeing a significant decline in air travel across the globe, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many airline executives have noted the extent at which the virus has impacted operations, often describing this as the biggest crisis ever faced.