Wizz Air, the biggest low-cost airline in the Eastern and Central Europe, has announced it would start flights to St. Petersburg airport Pulkovo from Sofia, Bucharest, Vilnius and Bratislava in summer 2020. The minimum fare starts from just 29.99 euro one way (all taxes included) with significantly reduced rates available for members of the company’s club.
The flights will be launched at different times with different schedule:
— from Sofia (Bulgaria) as of July 2, 2020, will be served on Tue, Thu, Sat;
— from Bucharest (Romania) as of July 1, 2020, will be served on Mon, Wed, Fri;
— from Bratislava (Slovakia) as of June 1, 2020, will be served on Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun;
— from Vilnius (Lithuania) as of June 3, 2020, will be served on Wed and Sun.
Now Wizz Air flies to St. Petersburg from Budapest (Hungary) and London (Great Britain, through Wizz Air UK). In 2019, St. Petersburg-bound routes of Wizz Air served 111,100 passengers, up 59.4 percent from 2018.
Currently, there are two european low-cost carriers flying to Pulkovo. The other is Spanish Vueling, flying from Barcelona and Alicante in summer periods. Latvia’s Air Baltic is also often referred to as a low-cost airline, though it is not if measured by typical standards applied to this category of carriers.
Joseph Varadi, CEO of Wizz Air, said at a recent press conference in St. Petersburg that the company had contacted aviation authorities of more than twenty European countries on the possibility of flying to St. Petersburg. These four — Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria — have been the quickest to respond. So more positive news may follow soon.
Earlier other low-cost carriers expressed interests in St. Petersburg, including RyanAir, Volotea and EasyJet, Pulkovo’s CEO Leonid Sergeev told last year. Big airlines seem to be in a let’s-wait-and-see-mode to decide later after results of Wizz Air’s have become known.
Background To Low-Cost Airlines At Pulkovo
The mains reasons behind Wizz Air’s brave attempts are the introduction of e-visas to St. Petersburg and the Leningradskaya oblast’ and the decision by Russian government to grant seventh freedom of the air to Pulkovo in late 2019, which has been in effect since January 1, 2020. In simple words it means that any airline regardless of its own residence can fly freely to Pulkovo from a number of countries. For example, Hungary-based Wizz Air can fly from Lithuania provided Lithuanian authorities gave a permission on their part.
The countries concerned fall into two categories:
— ones from which carriers can fly to Pulkovo from any city;
— ones with some cities excluded from the seventh freedom or only one or two cities allowed.
The list of countries subject to seventh freedom with the «any city concept»
The list of countries subject to seventh freedom with some cities excluded
— Austria (except Vienna);
— Great Britain (except London);
— Germany (except Berlin, Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Munich);
— Spain (except Barcelona and Malaga);
— Italy (except Rome and Milan);
— Cyprus (except Larnaca and Paphos);
— France (except Nice and Paris);
— Czech Republic (except Prague);
— Bulgaria (only Sofia).
Photo credit: Pulkovo Airport