The Polish carrier, which is also flying to LCY from Warsaw and Budapest, has been chosen for a route funded by Lithuania.
LOT Polish Airlines has won a tender from the ministry of transport in neighbouring Lithuania to operate services between Vilnius and London City Airport, Aviation24 reports.
The new connection is due to launch on May 1 next year, when LOT will offer 12 flights a week – twice daily Monday to Friday and once each on Saturdays and Sundays.
Lithuania lacks a national flag carrier, with many of the routes from its three airports – Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga – operated by low-cost carriers such as Wizz Air and Ryanair.
London City is the most convenient entry point for business and leisure passengers to reach the centre and commercial district of the UK’s capital city while avoiding the difficulties of commuting from Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton.
Tickets for the route, which LOT will fly using new 106-seat Embraer 190 aircraft to be delivered in next month, will go on sale once the contract has been signed in mid-December.
The link will feature a public service obligation (PSO), which allows public entities to co-fund flights of special interest within the European Union. The Lithuanian government began work on the tender for this particular connection as far back as summer last year.
“It is a unique case in the EU where a flight mechanism aimed at attracting business travellers will be supported by the state,” explains Aurimas Stikliunas, head of aviation services at Lithuanian Airports.
“We are especially glad to be the first ones, together with our partners, to achieve such an important project. Both Lithuania and the UK business community have been waiting for so long for flights that will cut geographical barriers and significantly shorten the travel time between Vilnius and London. Comfortable flights at the appropriate time will definitely increase the flow of business travellers coming to Lithuania.”
Adrian Kubicki, director of corporate communications at LOT, adds that “for passengers travelling between Lithuania and Great Britain, the new connection is a perfect alternative to connections to Luton and Stansted airports, which are more distant.”
In addition, boosting the prospect of the flights is that fact that “East London is a place where many Lithuanians live”.
LOT already operates five daily services between Vilnius and the Polish capital Warsaw, which in turn allow travel in many directions, including London Heathrow to which LOT has three flights a day.
The Polish carrier will also be launching a direct route between Warsaw and London City in January and, from February 18, it will start a route between London City and Budapest with 12 weekly services planned.