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Low-Cost Airlines In Europe Are Fighting For Customers, But SkyEurope Proves There's Room For One More

Travelling to some of Central Europe's most stunning and historic cities just got a little bit easier! SkyEurope - one of Europe's fastest growing LCC (low-cost carrier) airlines - is making quite a name fir itself in the LCC sector. Since it's humble inception five years ago, SkyEurope has steadily increased it's presence in Central Europe: currently flying out of hubs in Prague, Budapest, Warsaw, Krakow and Bratislavia (where the populations of the countries of the aforementioned cities - the Slovak Republic, Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic - collectively comprise more than two-thirds of the total population of the countries that acceded to the European Union).

SkyEurope is banking its success on what is called "short haul" flights, offering flights to 37 cities in 19 European countries spread out over 70 different routes. Allowing passengers to "get in-enjoy- get out" and move on to their next CE destination. There may be a glut of LCC providers in Western Europe with airlines such as RyanAir and Easyjet leading the pack, but in CENTRAL Europe, SkyEurope has quickly risen to the top of the ranks, cementing its reputation as not only the first LCC in Central Europe but also the most reliable.

SkyEurope Airlines was established in September 2001 by the enterprising team of Christian Mandl and Alain Skowronek. they recognized the need for a low-cost travelling alternative to connect the major cities of the Slovak Republic. What started out as a single domestic route in the Slovak Republic with a simple 30-seat Embraer 120ER aircraft has blossomed into SkyEurope becoming the most widely used LCC in the region.

For the traveller visiting from Western Europe or even farther abroad, SkyEurope offers easy-to-book flights at more-than-reasonable prices.

Time and success allowed SEA to expand beyond the Slovak Republic where now the airline has established additional bases in other countries. An increase in business has allowed SkyEurope to evolve from its original 30-seat Embraer aircraft towards the more common longer range 133-seat Boeing 737-500 (Classic) aircraft, of which seven are in service. In addition SkyEurope is employing four 149-seat Boeing 737-700 (next generation) aircraft, and five 149-seat Boeing 737-300 (Classic) aircraft. And if that alone weren't sign enough of SEA's success, more aircraft are already being brought on-line: 16 new 149-seat Boeing 737-700 (Next Generation) aircraft have been purchased, 12 of which have begun phase-in operations since March 2006 and will continue through May 2007. SkyEurope also acquired purchase rights for a further 16 Boeing 737-700 (Next Generation) aircraft from Boeing for delivery prior to the end of 2010.

These improvements are designed to remain cosmetic to the traveller on business or vacation. Aircraft technical data means little to the passenger queued up in a check-in line. The important elements to be noted at "ground level" are more seats, more routes and easier access to many CE cities that until now travellers such as yourself may have only dreamed about. And as long as you're wondering, you may traveling througout Central Europe, but at SEA, everyone is fluent in English.

SkyEurope has found its niche by targeting both leisure and business travellers. The SEA network has successfully "connected the dots" of major cities in Central Europe. You're not going to find in-house movies and complimentary drinks on SEA flights. To the un-initiated, LCC's just don't operate like that. What will find is easy to negotiate transportation that will get you Central Europe and than an even easier mode of travel taking you throughout the Slovak Republic.

What I like best about SkyEurope is that prices are figured to included the dreaded airport tax. Not to take anything away from RyanAir (which I use quite a bit) or many other LCC's, but many times the low, low price of 20 euro for a ticket winds up being a lot more than you bargained for after the airport tax is levied in. At SkyEurope you get what you pay for. A ticket that costs 19 euro (London to Krakow for example) costs just that - 19 euro.

And speaking of London, you can get even more our of what SkyEurope has to offer by picking up a connection to a London hub first, and then progressing on from there. That will probably entail switching from one airline to another but in the long run it adds up to more selection. Check out the SEA website (www2.skyeurope.com) for more information.

Typically - as is the case with many LCC's - peak passenger months for SkyEurope tend to be from June to August. But for travellers who can coordinate their itineraries, vacationing in the "low" seasons before or after summer can result in even better bargains.

Summer may be over, but the benefits of flying with SkyEurope airlines can be felt all year long.

By Gary Picariello - I ve traveled the world as a Broadcast Journalist working for the American Forces Radio & Television Service in the United States Air Force. Now happily retired after 23 years of service, and currently livin...  

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