The 2020 charter season started nearly two months later than last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which grounded regular civilian and charter flights between mid-March and June.
The Bratislava airport plans to dispatch only 308 charter flights in the current summer season, which is 87 percent less than last year. In the 2019 season, altogether 3,245 flights were dispatched, the SITA newswire reported.
Three airlines on offer
The first two charter flights left the airport on Saturday, July 25. They took tourists to Larnaka (Cyprus) and Rhodes (Greece), and more tourists flew to these destinations on Monday, July 27. At the same time, travel agencies are offering flights to the Greek island of Crete.
Currently, three airlines provide charter flights. They have confirmed 94 flights so far:
- AirExplore: 56 flights to Rhodes, Crete and Larkana;
- Airways: 20 flights to Larnaka
- Smartwings: 18 flights to Rhodes and Crete.
Travellers' favourite destinations during last year’s summer season were Turkey and Egypt, but the flights to these countries are currently cancelled. The same applies to flights to Tunisia, SITA reported.
Season will depend on several factors
The summer charter season belongs to the most important period for the Bratislava airport, said Radek Zábranský, head of the airport’s air trade and strategic marketing department.
“We handled about 1 million passengers in the last two years between June and September and dispatched some 2,500 flights,” he said, as quoted by SITA.
This year’s season will depend on how many additional flights travel agencies will order and whether people will be willing to travel, he added.
The late start of charter flights is a summer restart, said Roman Berkes, head of the Slovak Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agencies (SACKA). In his opinion, flights can be safe if people manage to observe basic travel recommendations and hygienic rules.
He also expects destinations in Turkey and Egypt will be gradually added, as reported by SITA.