Sólyom’s CEO Optimistic About Airline’ Prospects – An Interview

  • 23 Sep 2013 9:00 AM
Sólyom’s CEO Optimistic About Airline’ Prospects – An Interview
In five years’ time Sólyom will be among Hungary’s ten top companies, says József Vágó in an optimistic tone. The landing of their first plane in Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport was a historic moment for the CEO of Sólyom Hungarian Airways.

Q: Why didn’t you unveil Álmos vezér, your first craft, on August 20, Hungary’s national holiday?

A: We considered sending our first craft flying over the Danube River in Budapest on August 20. But as there was no official air show this year, we canceled that stunt.

Q: What will be the first destinations?

A: We plan to reach twenty-two destinations within one month. As from the middle of September, we will have flights to London, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt and, as requested by our investors, we will also have destinations in the Gulf region. More craft will be obtained in October. I disagree with the view that it is suicidal to launch an airline with a winter timetable. Whether we have enough passengers will depend on whether or not we can provide good services at competitive prices.

Q: Several European airlines are struggling to survive. What business model do you think can make your company viable?

A: Since MALÉV went bankrupt one and a half years ago, we have spent a lot on market research. Those surveys show that there is tangible demand for our premium service at a price that is somewhat higher than the prices of discount carriers. Our foreign partners share that view: our aviation insurance company and communications service provider are renowned multinational companies. Overall, we are taken much more seriously abroad than at home.

Q: Perhaps reservations are voiced in Hungary because little can be known of Sólyom.

A: We are reticent because the rivals might capitalize on information that is given out inadvertently. I only speak of plans that will certainly be fulfilled. I and the other co-owners, Robert Hurtyák and János Lucsik, have spent more than EUR 2 million on this project. We have financial commitment concerning an even higher sum and the investors are ready to finance our requests, however big they are.

Q: If you are sufficiently capitalized, why have you leased craft that are older than twenty years?

A: Airplane producers have so many orders that new craft will only become available as from 2017. Our repairmen say that the 22-year-old Álmos vezér is in a very good technical condition and pilots say it only consumes five percent more fuel than new craft. Nanotech paint has been applied to Álmos vezér to reduce its fuel consumption.

Q: When will we know more of the investors from Oman and the United Arab Emirates?

A: Their public appearance will be timed to our next major announcement. It can be heard on the grapevine that the Emirates Airline, based in Dubai, is among our investors. I do not wish to confirm or deny that information.

Q: You are not going to involve the Hungarian state in the company, are you?

A: No because that would make operation complicated. But a new flagship carrier has numerous benefits for the national economy and I am not referring to tourism only. Sólyom has applied for license to carry goods and postal deliveries too. As for the first, it would be important for the transport of perishable farm produce and as for the latter, we would gladly cooperate with the Hungarian Posts. I hope that by 2017 Sólyom will be among Hungary’s top ten companies.

Translated by Budapest Telegraph

Source: Heti Válasz

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