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Difficulties in air travel connection

EVEN though Poland and Slovakia are divided by mountains, and existing cross-border road infrastructure is far from ideal, there are currently no direct regular flights between the two countries. There have been some attempts to launch such routes, but interest was too low to maintain them. Yet, hopes that direct routes will be made available again in the future have not faded completely, as tourism experts believe that a direct flight would help foster tourism in the High Tatras.

“The winter travelling from Poland to Slovakia is especially not ideal,” Lenka Maťašovská, the director of the destination management organisation Región Vysoké Tatry, told the SITA newswire. “Maybe a connection [between Poprad] and Warsaw would be fine.”

The organisation is pinning its hopes on the international airport in Poprad, about 15 kilometres from the High Tatras, which has recently undergone renovation. In January a new €2.6-million departure hall (which meets Schengen criteria for international transport) was opened, and a new arrival hall was built in 2008.

At the time the new departure hall opened, there were regular flights between Poprad and Gdansk and Warsaw. These were designed especially for skiers from the northern and central part of Poland, and were in operation from January until mid March. A regular winter flight from Poprad will begin flying to Riga, Latvia on December 13. The line will be in operation until March.

Over the last two decades there were several attempts to launch regular flights between Slovakia and Poland, but they all failed. While Slovak Tatra Air and SkyEurope Airlines went bankrupt, Polish LOT tried to launch the route twice before moving its airplanes to more profitable routes, the Trend weekly wrote.

The Bratislava-Warsaw line, compared to westward flights, has always suffered from a lack of both business and tourist travellers, despite reasonable prices. The line enabled fast business trips in Poland via Warsaw and Slovak travellers used Warsaw as an alternative transit airport to travel to the United States, Vietnam and China. Nevertheless, Slovaks working abroad and living in northern Slovak regions use provincial airports in southern Poland, like Katowice, Wrocław, Krakow or Rzeszow to fly to work in Great Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia.

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