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Budget Airline Germanwings Eyes Soft Landing at Pulkovo

Published: March 7, 2006 (Issue # 1150)


Budget airline Germanwings is to start regular flights between St. Petersburg and Germany. The first low-cost carrier to establish itself in the city, Germanwings will serve Cologne and Bonn three times a week from April 29, Prime-TASS reported last week.

“The opening of a new route is aimed at improving economic relations between St. Petersburg and Cologne, where many companies of strategic importance to German economic development are based,” Prime-TASS reported citing a statement released by Germanwings.

According to Andreas Engel, director for International Public Relations at Germanwings, the company will use one of their new Airbus planes for the service to St. Petersburg. The company has an Airbus fleet of 22 planes.

“We hope to reach a seat load factor of over 80 percent. The average seat load factor is 82.4 percent on all of our 44 routes,” Engel said Monday by e-mail from Cologne.

Last summer Germanwings started regular flights three times a week from Moscow to Cologne, Bonn and Berlin. Since March 26 it starts flights between Moscow and Stuttgart. As for further expansion, the company is still considering its opportunities.

“At the moment we are happy with Moscow and St. Petersburg. Further plans related to Russia will be discussed at end of this year,” Engel said.

The first foreign budget carrier to start flights to Moscow was Germania Express selling one-way tickets from Moscow to Germany at around 120 euros.

However, thanks to active lobbying from national carriers authorities have set limits on discounts — tickets for Germanwings flights from Moscow cost about $100, though flights from Germany to Moscow are available at 19 euros, all taxes and fees included. The same principle will apply for flights to and from St. Petersburg.

Maria Tarabarinova, sales manager at Sindbad Travel, suggested that the Germanwings service will be popular among passengers used to cheap tickets, like those flying to Dusseldorf with Pulkovo airline.

The new routes take advantage of increased demand due to the holding of the World Cup soccer tournament in Germany in June and July, Tarabarinova said.

Tarabarinova said that in a couple of years, after assessing their operations in St. Petersburg, Germanwings could start flying to Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk or Kazan.

Nevertheless, the $100 limit set by Russian authorities will prevent many budget airlines from establishing themselves in the country, Tarabarinova said.

“Ryanair has been flying to Tampere, Finland, for a long time and is considering opening a second route, possibly in Lappenranta. This proves that the company is interested in the Russian market,” she said.

In Europe low cost carriers serve about 10 million passengers a month. Some of them are subsidiaries of larger companies such as Go (British Airways) and Buzz (KLM).

Germanwings is a subsidiary of Eurowings, in which Lufhansa holds a stake.

“Through our partner Germanwings we have a successful and active participation in the ‘no frills’ sector,” said Silvio Uhlfelder, regional manager of Lufthansa in St. Petersburg and the Northwest region of Russia.

“No-frills airlines limit their service to the minimum and offer only point-to-point flights. In our opinion they will generate more air traffic, as people who up until now only traveled by bus or car might switch to planes, and with time are likely to develop the need to fly in more comfort,” he said.





 

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Dec. 19


Test your mastery of parlor games during Game Evening at the British Book Center. Learn how to play a variety of classic, mentally challenging games and use your newly acquired skills to crush weaker opponents. The event beings at 5 p.m.



Saturday, Dec. 20


The city’s Babushkina Park on Prospekt Obukhovskoy Oborony will be invaded by dozens of rocking-and-rolling Santa Clauses during today’s Santa Claus Parade. Not only will they parade through the park but there will also be competitions amongst the festively-clad participants and a musical master class. There will also be a prize for the best-dressed Santa Claus.


Stock up your record collection during the Vinyl Christmas Sale at the KL10TCH bar on Konyushennaya ploschad today. Spend the afternoon perusing the records for sale while listening the classic, clean sound of records spinning out hits from a variety of musical genres and time periods.



Sunday, Dec. 21


The Zenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the club’s website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.


Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts made from a plethora of sweet treats. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.



Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBA’s and Capital Legal Service’s event “Arctic Expedition” this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers’ ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



Wednesday, Dec. 24


The Anglican Church of St. Petersburg we will be holding a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. led by Rev Wm. Shepley Curtis of the Episcopal Church. The service will be held at the Swedish Church at 1/3 Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa.



To have your event included in All About Town, email tot@sptimes.ru



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