Czechs swap Prague airport for Vienna or Munich, say some ticket sellers

by   CIJ News iDesk III
2024-03-20   15:08

Fewer and fewer Czechs are flying out of Prague airport, according to some ticket sellers. There is a growing interest in departures from Vienna or Munich, where tickets are cheaper. This is according to information from ticket sellers contacted by ČTK. The biggest year-on-year drops in interest in departures from Prague airport were recorded by the sellers Pelikán and Student Agency Travel.

For Student Agency Travel, 61 percent of Czechs chose Prague as a departure point in 2022, compared to 55 percent last year. Pelikán's travellers chose Vienna and Munich airports more often than before the 2019 coronavirus pandemic. Interest in Vienna airport rose from 20 per cent in 2019 to 30 per cent last year, and Munich airport from two per cent to four per cent, according to vendor spokeswoman Katarína Šuchterová.

A big attraction of Vienna Airport was the arrival of new carriers such as Saudia Airlines after the pandemic, according to Šuchterová. The airport in the Austrian capital also managed to return to its original capacity to selected destinations after Covid-19 earlier, she said. "Similarly, German airports often have significantly higher capacity compared to Prague, which is what attracts airlines to lower ticket prices in a highly competitive environment," she added.

Czechs choose more distant airports because of the favourable price offers, according to retailers. "According to our data, passengers use their catchment airports if the price of a ticket is on average not 20 per cent or more higher. If the prices are higher, people are willing to travel even to a distant airport at the expense of their own comfort," said Josef Trejbal, director of the Letuš portal.

According to Pelikán's data, the better prices outside Prague airport are mainly for more distant exotic destinations. Prague Airport is also seeing more interest from passengers to long-haul destinations in the post-pandemic period, said Prague Airport spokeswoman Klára Divíšková. According to Šuchterová, the share of people who prefer to fly to these destinations from abroad is growing. "While more than half of our passengers flew from Prague to Thailand in 2019, last year 53 per cent of passengers flew to Thailand from Vienna, this year the figure is 56 per cent," Šuchterová said. According to her, the price of a ticket to Thailand is even 30 percent lower when departing from Vienna.

Flights to Saudi Arabia are also more economical when departing from Vienna, by 67 per cent, or by 20 per cent for flights to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Flights to the Dominican destination are 40 percent cheaper when departing from Munich compared to Prague. Travellers who buy their tickets from Pelikan also often choose Munich when travelling to Bangkok, Thailand or Mexico. According to Šuchterová, a trip to the United Arab Emirates is most worthwhile with a departure from Budapest. Compared to Prague, it is 60 percent cheaper. "That is why seven per cent of passengers from the Hungarian capital head to the Emirates, while 46 per cent choose Vienna," said Šuchterová.

According to Student Agency Travel's sales director Martina Hrnčířová, the growing proportion of passengers departing from Vienna is influenced by the competitive environment. This is greater at Vienna Airport than at Prague Airport, she said. According to Hrnčířová, flights to Bangkok or New York are more expensive when departing from Prague, while flights to European destinations such as Paris are cheaper from Prague.

According to the company's data, the shares of airports in bookings are very similar year-on-year, differing by a few percent at most. Passenger interest in Prague airport rose by around 1.6 per cent year-on-year last year. Bratislava, Brno, Nuremberg and Munich saw increases of less than one per cent. In contrast, interest in departures from Vienna fell slightly.

The portal Letuš did not record a drop at Ruzyně Airport. "Currently, we sell 93 percent of tickets from Prague Airport, two percent from Munich and five percent from Vienna, which is due to the catchment area of passengers from South Moravia. The five to seven per cent of tickets sold outside Prague airport corresponded to the pre-Covidian period," Trejbal said. He said the company saw a spike in 2021, when one-fifth of passengers departed from non-Prague airports due to the low supply of flights from Prague and higher ticket prices. But the situation has changed, he said.

Ruzyně Airport does not see higher ticket prices or lower interest in departures from Prague, Divíšková told ČTK. "Within the catchment area of Václav Havel Airport Prague (within 165 km of the airport), the share of passengers departing from Prague is about 77 percent, while about 15 percent of passengers living in our catchment area depart from Vienna and another four percent of passengers depart from Munich," she said.

According to Prague Airport's data, the year-on-year increase in ticket prices is around 15 per cent, "which is fully in line with the average increase in ticket prices in the Central European region, and at the same time a slightly lower increase compared to the increase in average ticket prices from Vienna (+18 per cent) or Munich (+17 per cent)," Divíšková said. However, she admitted that higher prices may apply to some destinations.

Source: CTK

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