LOT revives Krakow-New York plans

LOT Polish Airlines is planning to expand operations between Poland and the US during the second quarter of the year with a new long-haul service to New York and the resumption of another service to the East Coast city.

The carrier intends to launch nonstop flights between Krakow (KRK) and New York John F Kennedy (JFK) from May 2, according to the latest schedules data filed with OAG. The route will be served 1X-weekly using 252-seat Boeing 787-8 aircraft, with the timetable currently in place until Oct. 25.

Additionally, the airline has scheduled the resumption of Rzeszów (RZE)-Newark (EWR) flights, which last operated regularly until the end of the summer 2019 season. Service was suspended in 2020 because of the COVID-19 crisis but will return on March 29, operating 1X-weekly.

The planned expansion comes despite ongoing travel restrictions between the US and Europe, designed to curb the spread of coronavirus. Citizens from non-EU countries are currently only allowed to enter Poland for essential reasons, while the US ban on arrivals from 26 countries of the Schengen area remains in place.

The new route from Krakow, a city located in southern Poland close to the country’s border with the Czech Republic, will become LOT’s third route to JFK alongside flights from Warsaw (WAW) and Budapest (BUD), the latter of which is currently slated to resume in early April.

Should KRK-JFK service begin as planned, flights will depart JFK at 5.30 p.m. on Sundays, arriving in KRK at 8.30 a.m. the following day. The return service departs KRK at 12.05 p.m. on Mondays and arrives in JFK at 3.30 p.m.

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The Star Alliance member previously operated the route on a regular basis until the end of summer 2008 season. However, Krakow has been without a direct link to New York ever since, leaving Chicago O'Hare (ORD) as the sole destination in the US served nonstop.

LOT had intended to restore a weekly KRK-JFK service in May 2020, but the launch was postponed because of the pandemic.

Poland was formally admitted to the US visa waiver program in November 2019, making it easier for Polish citizens to visit America. The European country became the first nation to be added to the program since 2014 when Chile joined.

Polish nationals are now eligible to apply for the waiver using the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, often referred to as ESTA, enabling them to visit the US for 90 days without a visa.

Following the country’s entry to the program, LOT announced a series of new routes to the US due to start in 2020, including flights from WAW to Washington Dulles (IAD) and San Francisco (SFO).

Although plans for WAW-IAD remain on hold, WAW-SFO is currently scheduled to begin in June. OAG data shows the latter route will be served up to 9X-weekly using 787-8s.

Photo credit: Nigel Howarth / Aviation Week

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.