Last year you celebrated 10 years what are the key points of the success?
While every airline is different, at Volotea, our success is due to a combination of factors, the first being that we offer routes among small and medium-sized cities that, before our arrival, required a connection in a major hub. Among other factors, we can certainly include our foresight in identifying opportunities, the strategic expansion of our network, and a consistent approach to executing our plans. Additionally, our pilots and cabin crew, and HQ staff – this year we will employee around 1750 people – together with our airport partners have all played a critical role in the process. And, of course, we would be nowhere without the trust and loyalty of our customers, who have regularly chosen to fly with us all these years, and for that, we are incredibly grateful.
What is the traffic forecast for 2023?
Volotea will offer nearly 12 million seats on over 400 routes across 16 countries in our entire network for 2023. We expect to carry around 10.5-11 million passengers overall, our biggest achievement in a single year since our start. In March 2023, we also reached 50 million passengers, a very important milestone for us.
Do you plan to expand your international network? Where is the main focus?
We are constantly looking to expand our international network, with our biggest market being France for 2023. However, we also continue to grow in Spain, Greece, and Italy. This year, we are increasing our international flights to 44% of capacity, compared to 33% in 2022 (excluding PSO routes).
In Greece, we are delighted to offer over 1.4 million seats to and from key airports, representing a 12% increase from 2022. We are especially proud to have the fastest-growing presence at Athens Airport, where we run our most extensive operations in the country, providing more than 680,000 seats this year, a 33% increase compared to 2022. Our commitment to expansion, coupled with our great product at competitive prices, high levels of OTP, and friendly crews, make us a preferred choice for many travellers. Furthermore, we have a code-share agreement with Aegean Airlines, the leading local Greek airline, as we share a vision of delivering an excellent travel experience at competitive costs.
In February you announced the partnership with Eurowings. What are the main benefits for Volotea for this cooperation? Do you plan to partner with more airlines?
Our recent sales partnership agreement with Eurowings is a significant achievement for Volotea as it allows us to grow our presence in Germany and offer German customers the possibility of seamless connections to popular destinations in France, Italy, and Spain. This initial partnership agreement covers more than 140 routes with no overlap, paving the way toward the potential for a more robust and longer-term collaboration. We are constantly exploring new opportunities to enhance our network and provide our customers with more convenient travel options to reach their desired destinations.
In March Volotea became the first airline to pass Bureau Veritas’ audit for sustainability program. How important this is for Volotea?
At Volotea, we recognize the importance of reducing our environmental impact and promoting sustainable travel. We are pleased to have partnered with Bureau Veritas, a world leader in laboratory testing, inspection, and certification services, to audit our sustainability program, Voloterra. The audit showed that we are already on the way to the 50% CO2 reduction. Our 2022 reports show a 41% in 2022 (vs 2012).
We will continue to work with Bureau Veritas in the future to hold ourselves accountable to sustainable standards, the industry, and our customers.
In December Volotea and Air Nostrum have announced the acquisition of a minority stake in Dante Aeronautical (Dante) becoming Dantes’ first strategic investor. Do you have an update on the project?
Since our initial announcement, Dante Aeronautical and Dovetail, their parent company in Australia, have made exciting progress. In February, they completed the first ground tests of their prototype, the Iron Bird, and are now partnering with leasing company MONTE to convert up to 50 planes to electric. Dovetail also received a substantial grant from the Australian government to develop technology for emissions-free electric propulsion. In Europe, we are supporting Dante-Dovetail in exploring different airports in Spain to establish an operations center and create a first Conversion Center in Europe in the near future. We are thrilled to participate in this process and are always committed to investing in sustainable possibilities.
What is your vision and what are your priorities in Volotea?
In Europe, there are still great possibilities for launching new routes between small and medium-sized cities, in fact, 75% of Europeans live in these cities and need direct connections. We have only just started to tap into this opportunity with huge growth potential. Our priorities, after safety, of course, are offering an excellent travel experience, maintaining high levels of on-time performance, and continuing to take good care of our customers.
What do you think is the greatest challenge that the airline business faces ahead?
The airline sector will have to face a few challenges in the future. First, the decarbonization of aviation, as work towards an effective global carbon price for aviation, has only just started. Also, more European strikes will continue to significantly impact delays and costs in the coming months, which will harm our sustainability efforts due to additional fuel burned and an increase in CO2 emissions.