From 5th September, Aeroexpress Regional will operate three times a week for two months to several Romanian cities, connecting Budapest with Cluj-Napoca and Debrecen with Târgu Mureș (Marosvásárhely) and Cluj-Napoca. Aeroexpress Regional is a start-up Hungarian airline partner of BASe Airlines, which has been present on the market for 31 years and has gained significant experience in regional aviation in Europe.
Aeroexpress Air Traffic Zrt. said in a statement that regional flights have been an uncovered area in the Hungarian aviation market for a decade, so an introductory period was used to gauge traveller feedback and a new joint stock company was formed with BASe Airlines Zrt. founded in 1991 and 100% owned by Hungarians. The company, branded Aeroexpress Regional, is preparing for a two-month introductory operation from September in cooperation with the operator of Debrecen International Airport, creating a long-awaited air link between Transylvanian and Hungarian cities, for which ticket sales have started.
Flights will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays on the Budapest-Kolozsvár-Debrecen-Marosvásárhely-Debrecen-Kolozsvár-Budapest route, thus flying a special “double W” route to serve passengers in several cities at the same time. Ticket prices range from €40 to €90 each way and, interestingly, the Budapest-Clarice connection is scheduled to allow return journeys in one working day, making it a particularly valuable alternative for business travellers. Passengers from Cluj-Napoca can make a similar stopover in Debrecen, while there is a round trip between the capital and Târgu Mures
The founding shareholder of Aeroexpress Regional is BASe Airlines, which at the time also operated regional flights for Malév with its three Embraer 120 aircraft. According to BASe Airlines’ Director, Captain Zoltán Ármai, their company has been operating scheduled flights to Finland for many years on behalf of the Finnish State, in addition to successfully serving the tourism and public service sectors in Italy, Croatia, Denmark, and Spain. The company has been based at Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport since its inception, and its aircraft have spent more than 23,000 hours in the air and made approximately 27,000 landings in the last 17 years.
The Aeroexpress group was founded by Dániel Somogyi-Tóth, who is also known to the public as a conductor, organist, and director of the Aeropark Aviation Museum in Ferihegy, which has become one of the most popular themed experience centres in the country. He and his partners have invested heavily in development in recent years, focusing specifically on areas that are lacking in current Hungarian aviation capabilities, including the recent first hydroplane flights on Lake Balaton and the Danube, as the press release stresses. Dániel Somogyi-Tóth pointed out that Aeroexpress Regional aims to offer an alternative to European airlines, complementing their services, which could be a step forward in connecting destinations in the region that are sufficiently distant from each other but difficult to reach by rail or road. In Europe, for example, more than 60 regional airlines were operating before the pandemic, carrying 77 million passengers in 2017, on around one million flights and 2,700 routes.
Among the founding owners is Dr. Dániel Vadász, so it can be said that the new Hungarian airline brand is taking shape, with a management team of outstanding talent and highly experienced aviation professionals behind it. In the statement, the co-founder stresses that, as BASe Airlines has been involved in the development of regional air transport in several European countries in recent years, it is a logical and obvious step for Aeroexpress Regional to work with them in the development of regional air transport in Hungary. Our company, based in Debrecen, a city with which several members of the management have many ties, is located in the geographical centre of the Carpathian Basin and, as the largest Hungarian city in the countryside, is of particular cultural and logistical importance. This prominent role will become even more important in the coming years, as the ongoing investments will bring significant demographic growth in addition to economic development, the founder added.
The Brazilian-built Embraer 120 ER turboprop passenger aircraft used by the airline has been specially developed to operate short-haul regional flights efficiently and economically. It has a range of 1750 km and a fuselage length and wingspan of 20 metres. Two Pratt&Whitney engines, each with 1800 hp, ensure a cruising speed of 552 km/h and a maximum cruising altitude of 8,500 metres.
The launch of the Aeroexpress Regional brand will focus on public relations: the Embraer aircraft was to have been one of the performers in the cancelled air parade on 20th August, together with the Group’s seaplane. However, it is planned that the public will be able to see Aeroexpress aircraft in several locations in the near future, and the Group’s partner Aeropark is also planning to involve the airline in its popular educational activities.
The historic name Aeroexpress is a tribute to one of Hungary’s first airlines: founded in 1922, it was an innovative brand, operating from 1923 from Budapest to Vienna by seaplane, making it one of the first airlines in the world. As a result, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hungarian public international aviation next year.