Air Transport World

Makeover for Malev.

Alliance with BA strengthens Hungary's national carrier but it is still awaiting privatization and a much-needed capital injection

BUDAPEST- Can a medium-sized carrier with admittedly limited resources assert itself successfully in a hotly contested, liberalized marketplace? The jury is still out but Malev Hungarian Airlines (Magyar Legikozlekedesi Vallat) definitely aims to be more than simply a survivor.

"As the 'back door' to Western Europe and the 'front door' to Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Russia and Ukraine, we perceive still-untapped potential for our attractive, steadily improving product," asserts CEO Sandor Szathmary.

"Our options are either to shrink into a low-frills regional carrier or to optimize our fleet and aim for higher-frequency service in Western and Central Europe, and become integrated into a global airline system. We're going for the latter choices and will concentrate on being mainly a quality-driven short/medium-haul carrier." On the product-enhancement side, Malev's six Fokker 70s are being reconfigured from the 2x3-seat single-class layout to include a roomier 2x2 business-class section. The airline also is seeking to acquire a new revenue-management system.

Malev's network of 38 cities in 28 countries includes only seven destinations outside Europe. Among them is a moneymaking daily nonstop to New York in a code share with Delta Air Lines. Toronto is on the wish-list for the future. Germany is Malev's biggest market, with profitable service to seven cities. New weekly nonstops were to be launched Sept. …

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