Air Lituanica, the new Lithuanian flag carrier: an answer to Vilnius connectivity problem?
While I recently wondered whether Vilnius, Lithuania, was still the European capital with the worst air connections some people where at work to prove me wrong...because Vilnius (and Lithuania) may soon have a new flag carrier: airLituanica (I am actually not sure whether I should write it like this, "airBaltic-style" in small caps, or as two words, "Air Lituanica", as the airline name appears written both ways throughout the presentation)
One interesting aspect of this new airline project for Lithuania is that there is a whole presentation about the project on slideshare (with date as of September 2012), that you can see here (part of it is in Lithuanian, a language that I, unfortunately, do not master, but there is also a section in English)
Air Lituanica presentation: Air Lituanica pristatymas from Vilniaus miesto savivaldybė / Vilnius City Municipality
It looks like the new Lithuanian airline will start operating at some point in early 2013 with an initial fleet of two Embraer E-175 (to be increased to 4 in 2015) and routes to Amsterdam, London Gatwick, Brussels, Moscow Vnukovo and Kiev, in addition to the domestic destination of Palanga, on the Baltic coast. This network would later be expanded to include cities such as Stockholm and Munich and more.
(By the way: given that it is clearly stated that the fleet is going to be exclusively made of Embraers E-175s it would add credibility if future presentations would be illustrated with pictures of this aircraft type, rather than a mix of Boeing 737s and Airbus A320 that can be found on this one!)
The business model is defined as "low cost plus" which I assume to be another name for a "hybrid carrier", of the sort of Vueling or Air Berlin.
My first thoughts when reading about the project is that it is a going to be an easy ride, with a relatively small home market and airBaltic, Wizz Air and Ryanair with well-established networks in the region. Plus the fact that airLituanica is being kick-started by the city of Vilnius makes me, inevitably, think of Spanair, another airline that was supported from public institutions with the idea of fulfilling a "strategic" connectivity role for the city it served.
From the information found in the presentation above, it looks like the new carrier has got some very experienced advisors, though, such as London-based Aviation Economics, so we'll give it a vote of confidence after all...while we wait and see whether it is able to carve out a niche market for itself in this difficult market.