|Founded||1 January 1929|
|Hubs||Warsaw Chopin Airport|
|Frequent-flyer program||Miles & More|
|Company slogan||Polish: 'Ty wyznaczasz kierunek'
You choose the direction
|Parent company||Government of Poland|
|Key people||Rafa Milczarski, CEO|
|Revenue||PLN 3.051 billion (2015)|
|Operating income||PLN 66.9m (2015)|
|Net income||PLN 125m (2016 estimate)|
|Profit||PLN -46.5m (2015)|
|Total assets||PLN 3.082bn (2015)|
|Total equity||PLN -282m (2015)|
Polskie Linie Lotnicze LOT S.A. (Polish pronunciation: [lt], flight), trading as LOT Polish Airlines, is the flag carrier of Poland. Based in Warsaw and established in 1929, it is one of the world's oldest airlines still in operation.
With a fleet of 54 aircraft, LOT Polish Airlines operates a network to 83 destinations in Europe, the Middle East, North America, and Asia.
Nonstop long haul flights are offered to New York City, Newark, Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto, Seoul, Beijing, and Tokyo. Most of the destinations originate from its hub, Warsaw Chopin Airport. LOT is also a member of the Star Alliance.
At the end of 2012, LOT Polish Airlines became the first European airline that took delivery of one of the most modern aircraft in the world, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
LOT Polish airlines offers three service classes on its flights: Economy, Premium Economy and Business class. LOT has also won numerous awards including "Best Airline in Eastern Europe" in 2008, 2009 and 2010 according to the magazine Global Traveler and has been hailed as one of the safest airlines in the world.
The airline was established on 1 January 1929 by the Polish government as a state-owned self-governing corporation taking over existing domestic lines Aerolot (founded 1922) and Aero (founded 1925), and started operations on 2 January with services (additional to those previously operated by Aero and Aerolot) to Bydgoszcz and Katowice. The first aircraft used were Junkers F.13 and Fokker F.VII. Its first international service began on 2 August 1929 to Vienna. It was also at this point in time that LOT's well-renowned logo (designed by a visual artist from Warsaw, Tadeusz Gronowski, and still in use today) was picked as the winning entry of the Airline's logo design competition. Accepted into IATA in 1930, LOT opened an international route to Bucharest that year, followed by Berlin, Athens, Beirut, Helsinki, Rome and some others.
In 1931 the stork and Gronowski's logo were officially recognised by the company's corporate leadership as the emblem of LOT Polish Airlines, and in the same year the company's first multi-segment flight along the route Warsaw - Lwów - Czerniowce Bucharest was launched. Douglas DC-2, Lockheed Model 10A Electra and Model 14H Super Electra joined the fleet in 1935, 1936 and 1938 respectively (at its peak, LOT had 10 Lockheed 10, 10 Lockheed 14, 3 DC-2 and 1 Ju 52/3mge). The airline had carried 218,000 passengers by the outbreak of war. In 1934, after five years of operating under the LOT name, the airline received new head offices, technical facilities, hangars, workshops and warehouses located at the new, modern Warsaw Okcie Airport. This constituted a move from the airline's previous base at Pole Mokotowskie as this airport had become impossible to operate safely due to the way in which it had gradually become absorbed into Warsaw's outlying urban and residential areas.
In 1938 LOT changed its name, in accordance with the Polish spelling reform of that year from Polskie Linje Lotnicze 'LOT' to Polskie Linie Lotnicze 'LOT'; in the same year a well-publicised transatlantic test flight, aimed at judging the feasibility of introducing passenger service on the Poland-United States route, was carried out by LOT pilots and crew. Services were suspended during the Second World War, and all of LOT's aircraft were either destroyed or evacuated to Romania.
From August 1944 until December 1945 the Polish Air Force maintained basic transport in the country. On 10 March 1945 the Polish government recreated the LOT airline, as a state-owned enterprise. In 1946, seven years after the service was suspended, the airline restarted its operations after receiving ten Soviet-built Lisunov Li-2s, then a further 30 Li-2s and nine Douglas C-47s. Both domestic and international services restarted that year, first to Berlin, Paris, Stockholm and Prague. Five Sud-Est Languedoc joined the fleet for a short period in 19471948, followed by five Ilyushin Il-12B in 1949; 13-20 Ilyushin Il-14s then followed in 19551957. After the end of Stalinism in Poland, few Western aircraft would be acquired; five Convair 240s in 1957 and three Vickers Viscounts in 1962 proved to be the last until the 1990s. After that, the composition of the airline's fleet shifted exclusively to Soviet-produced aircraft. Only in 1955 LOT inaugurated services to Moscow, being the centre of the MarxistLeninist world, and to Vienna. Services to London and Zürich were not re-established until 1958, and to Rome until 1960.
Nine Ilyushin Il-18 turboprop airliners were introduced in June 1961, leading to the establishment of routes to Africa and Middle East, and in 1963 LOT expanded its routes to serve Cairo. In the 1970s there were added lines to Baghdad, Beirut, Benghazi, Damascus and Tunis. The Antonov An-24 was delivered from April 1966 (20 used, on domestic routes), followed by the first jet airliners Tupolev Tu-134 in November 1968 (which coincided with the opening of a new international terminal at Warsaw's Okcie Airport). The Tu-134s were operated on European routes. The Ilyushin Il-62 long range jet airliner inaugurate the first transatlantic routes in the history of Polish air transport to New York City in 1973. LOT began service on its first Far East destination Bangkok via Dubai and Bombay in 1977.
In 1977 the airline's current livery (despite occasional changes, notably in corporate typography) designed by Roman Duszek and Andrzej Zbroek, with the large 'LOT' inscription in blue on the front fuselage, and a blue tailplane was introduced, the 1929-designed Tadeusz Gronowski logo, however, despite many changes in livery, was kept through the years, and to this day remains the same.
In the Autumn of 1981, commercial air traffic in Poland neared collapse in the wake of the communist government's crackdown on dissenters in the country after the rise of the banned 'trade union' dissident Solidarity movement, and some Western airlines suspended their flights to Warsaw. With 13 December declaration of Martial Law that same year, all LOT Polish Airlines connections were suspended. Charter flights to New York and Chicago resumed only in 1984, and eventually regular flight connections were restored on 28 April 1985. Tupolev Tu-154 mid-range airliners were acquired, after the withdrawal of Il-18 and Tu-134 aircraft from LOT's fleet in the 1980s, and were deployed successively on most European and Middle East routes. In 1986 transatlantic charter flights also reached Detroit and Los Angeles.
After the fall of the communist system in Poland in 1989 the fleet shifted back to Western aircraft, beginning with acquisitions of the Boeing 767-200 in April 1989, followed by the Boeing 767-300 in March 1990, ATR 72 in August 1991, Boeing 737-500 in December 1992 and finally the Boeing 737-400 in April 1993. From the mid-1980s to early 1990s LOT flew from Warsaw to Chicago, Edmonton, Montreal, Newark, New York and Toronto. These routes were primarily inaugurated to serve the large Polish communities (Polonia) present in North America.
LOT was among the first Central European countries to operate American aircraft when the Boeing 767 was introduced; the 767s were used to operate LOT's longest-ever connection to Singapore. By the end of 1989 LOT had achieved much: it had hosted that year's IATA congress and achieved a milestone annual load-factor of 2.3 million passengers carried over the course of the year.
In 1990 LOT's third Boeing 767-300 landed at Warsaw Chopin Airport and not long after Boeing 737 and ATR 72 aircraft were acquired for use on LOT's expanded route network, which began to include new international destinations such as Kiev, Lviv, Minsk and Vilnius. Soon thereafter, in 1993, LOT began to expand its Western-European operations, inaugurating, in quick succession, flights to Oslo, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf, operations at Poland's other regional airports outside Warsaw were also duly expanded around this time.
By December 1992 the airline became a joint stock company, as a transitional step towards partial privatisation, which was effected in late 1999, with ownership then allocated thusly: State Treasury 67.97% of shares in the company; Regionalny Fundusz Gospodarczy S.A. 25.1%; the employees 6.93%. In 1994 the airline signed a code-sharing agreement with American Airlines on flights to and from Warsaw as well as onward flights in the United States and Poland operated by both companies; flights to Thessaloniki, Zagreb and Nice were inaugurated, and according to an IATA report, in this year LOT had the youngest fleet of any airline in the world. After years of planning, in 1997 LOT set up a sister airline, EuroLOT, which, essentially operating as its parent airline's regional subsidiary, took over domestic flights. The airline was developed with the hope that it would increase transit passenger-flow through Warsaw's Chopin Airport, whilst at the same time providing capacity on routes with smaller load factors and play a part in developing LOT's reputation as the largest transit airline in Central and Eastern Europe. By 1999 LOT had purchased a number of small Embraer 145 regional jets in order to expand its short-haul fleet, and had, with the approval of the Minister of the State Treasury, begun a process of selling shares to the Swiss company SAirGroup Holding, this then led to the airline's incorporation into the then-nascent Qualiflyer Group.
Expansion of LOT's route network continued in the early 2000s and the potential of the airline's hub at Warsaw Chopin Airport to become a major transit airport was realised with more and more success. In 2000 LOT took delivery of its largest ever order of 11 aircraft and by 2001 had reached a milestone passengers-carried figure of 3 million customers in one year; such an expansion led to the reconstruction of much of LOT's ground infrastructure, and by 2002 a new central Warsaw head office was opened on Ul. 17 Stycznia. On 26 October 2003, LOT, after the collapse of the Qualiflyer Group, became the 14th member of the Star Alliance. By 2006 a new base of operations, with the reconstruction of Warsaw Chopin Airport, had opened, thus allowing LOT's full transit airline potential to be developed for the first time ever. The new airport is much larger than any previous airport in Poland. In that same year Pope Benedict XVI returned to Rome on a LOT flight following his pilgrimage to Poland.
LOT created low-cost arm Centralwings in 2004, however, the company was dissolved and reincorporated into LOT after just five years of operating due to its long-term unprofitability and LOT's wish to redeploy aircraft within its own fleet.
In 2008 LOT opened a new flight to Beijing, however this lasted just a month, in the period prior to the Olympics. The reason for failure to continue this service was given as the need to route aircraft via an air corridor to the south of Kazakhstan (as LOT did not have permission for flights over Siberia from the Russian government) which was making the services too long and thus unprofitable.
LOT started new services to Yerevan, Armenia, Beirut, Lebanon and resumed Tallinn, Estonia, Kaliningrad, Russia, Gothenburg, Sweden and Bratislava, Slovakia with its newly acquired Embraer aircraft in summer 2010, and in October of the same year LOT resumed service to Asia, with three weekly flights on the Warsaw Hanoi route. In addition to this, new services to Tbilisi, Damascus and Cairo were inaugurated.
In 2010 LOT cancelled flights, after 14 years of operation, between Kraków and the US destinations of Chicago and New York, citing profitability concerns and lack of demand. The last US-Kraków flight departed on 27 October 2010 from Chicago O'Hare. The aircraft previously used on this route were then re-deployed to serve LOT's Warsaw-Hanoi route. This route to Hanoi (the Vietnamese capital) was largely under-utilised by European carriers and has proved very successful for LOT in the beginning.
On 31 May 2010, CEO of LOT Sebastian Mikosz stated that the airline will be replacing its fleet to meet a goal of one-third new by 2011. Replacement already started with Embraer E-Jets 175/170. For domestic expanded operations, LOT purchased Dash 8-Q400 over ATR 72-600 aircraft. To date a total of six Boeing 787 Dreamliners have been delivered, with the remaining two aircraft expected to join the fleet by 2017.
On 5 February 2011, new CEO of LOT Marcin Piróg announced that the airline is considering, in the near future, to open service to Baku, Sochi, Stuttgart, Oslo, Gothenburg, Dubai, Kuwait and Ostrava from its Warsaw hub. Previously planned flights to Donetsk in Ukraine have already been inaugurated, as have routes to Tokyo and Beijing. This has now become feasible since the finalizing of an agreement on Siberian overflight permits for LOT by the Polish and Russian governments in November 2011. As a result of the new agreement, LOT will receive new take-off and landing slots at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport and will begin service on a re-instated, improved Beijing service once Aeroflot begins service to Kraków on 1 June 2012. Although delayed from the original plans, LOT began flights to Tokyo Narita Airport in Japan on 13 January 2016, with flights three times per week.
In 2010/11 LOT also announced its new 'East meets West' route expansion policy, which will see the airline add a number of new Asian destinations to its schedule over the coming years. The policy aims to take advantage of LOT's perspectives as a transit airline and the substantial passenger growth seen on Europe-Asia flights in recent years. Also, in line with this policy LOT has introduced, for the first time, a premium economy on all Boeing 787 aircraft. Additionally lie-flat seats are available in business class and all of the airline's new long-haul aircraft have been fitted with Thales personal entertainment systems.
In June 2012 LOT announced all services to New York would be centralized from Newark and JFK Terminal 4 to JFK Terminal 1 from October 2012. It would also enter into a code-share agreement with JetBlue to increase the number of onward connections available to its customers. In July 2012 it was announced that a planned sale of a major stake in the airline to Turkish Airlines would not go ahead. The main problem was the inability of Turkish Airlines to own a majority stake as it is a Non-EU company. The airline is now again seeking a partner to take a major stake, likely a fellow EU airline.
Amidst a restructuring plan which saw the airline return to profitability for the first time in seven years, a 22 June 2015 press conference revealed details pertaining to the airlines future prospects. These include reinstating routes renounced as part of EU sanctions imposed following Polish government aid granted to ensure the airline's survival, as well as new long haul routes to Asia and North America.
As part of the airlines future expansion a fleet increase may see the carrier operating up to 88 aircraft by 2025. Air Lease Corporation confirmed on October 13, 2016 the placement of 6 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft with LOT, and options to lease 5 further aircraft of the same type. Four 737-800 aircraft will also be leased through AerCap with deliveries beginning in April 2017. Long haul plans will see the addition of further Boeing 787 aircraft, potentially increasing the total to 16 in the near future and 24 by 2025.
Currently, the Polish government owns 68% of shares in LOT; Regionalny Fundusz Gospodarczy S.A. owns 25%; employees own 6.93%. It was intended to privatise LOT in 2011. Although advanced talks were undertaken with Turkish Airlines a deal failed to materialise. This was largely due to the inability of Turkish Airlines, as a non-EU airline, to buy a majority of the airline. If they fail to find a new buyer the airline may be floated. LOT lost 145.5 million pln in 2011, compared to a 163.1 million pln loss in 2010.
As of June 2017, the LOT Polish Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft:
|Boeing 737 MAX 8||6||TBA||Deliveries starting December 2017.|
|Boeing 787-9||4||24||21||249||294||Deliveries starting March 2018|
|Bombardier CRJ900||5||90||90||Operated by Nordica|
|Bombardier Q400||10||78||78||Four in special "Ptasie Mleczko" livery|
|Embraer 170||6||14||10||46||70||One in Star Aliance livery
One in special "Ptasie Mleczko" livery
|Embraer 195||6||6||20||12||80||112||Deliveries starting March 2018|
With the delivery of new Boeing 787 long-haul aircraft in 2011/12, LOT introduced a new livery. This design is intended to retain the tradition and spirit of LOT and there will be no major or radical changes to the livery applied to the airline's planes. The most obvious will be the elimination of the blue nose piece and broad cheat-line which runs down each plane's fuselage and the removal of the 'POLSKIE LINIE LOTNICZE' title from each aircraft's starboard side; these will instead be replaced with the words 'POLISH AIRLINES', analogous to the port-side titles in the airline's current livery composition. The tailplane's design will change only slightly, with the colours of the traditional encircled crane logo being inverted and the circle becoming a more simple outline ring. Additionally, the positioning will be such as the circle (with crane) will not entirely fit on the tail. Finally, the colours of the Polish flag, present at the top of the circle in the current LOT livery, will be moved to the bottom of the tailplane and will not connect with the logo. The updated design together with the entry into service of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliners are part of a refresh of LOT's corporate image.
Several Embraer aircraft have special advertising liveries. While SP-LIE, an E175, was repainted as a retrojet into the 1945 livery that was used with some modifications until the 1970s.
This livery featured a lighter blue for a mid level cheat line and tail fin. The Polish flag was much larger on the tail while the crane logo on the tail was much smaller and above the flag. Early versions of this livery did not feature blue above the cheat line and had white as the main color on the tail. The flag was a higher on the tail and the logo was below or forward of the flag on these early versions.
LOT's iconic livery was introduced in the late 1980s and has undergone no major changes. The livery is essentially a predominantly white scheme with elements of traditional aviation design incorporated. The latter elements are visible in the design of the LOT livery as the area of dark blue under the cockpit windscreen, the long cheat-line which is painted down the side of the plane and the large traditional logo which is emblazoned on the tailplane.
Several Il-62 aircraft were named after famous Polish people. The 5 Boeing 767s LOT ordered from Boeing were named after Polish cities. The used and short term leased 767s LOT operated did not get names. This practice was not continued upon arrival of LOT's Boeing 787s and the introduction of the airline's updated livery.
LOT uses Lufthansa's frequent-flyer program, Miles & More. The program is also used by several other European airlines, including Lufthansa subsidiaries Austrian Airlines and Swiss International Air Lines (plus Swiss Global Air Lines), Adria Airways, Croatia Airlines, Luxair, and Brussels Airlines. Miles & More members can earn miles on LOT flights and Star Alliance partner flights, as well as through LOT credit cards, and purchases made through LOT Polish Airlines shops. Status within Miles & More is determined by miles flown during one calendar year with specific partners. Membership levels include: Basic (no minimal threshold), Frequent Traveller (Silver, 35,000 mile threshold), Senator (Gold, 100,000 mile threshold), and HON Circle (Black, 600,000 mile threshold over two calendar years). All non-basic Miles & More status levels offer lounge access and executive bonus miles, with the higher levels offering more exclusive benefits.
LOT operates, in cooperation with PPL (Polish State Airports), the 'Polonez' Business Lounge at Warsaw Chopin Airport. The lounge is accessible to anyone with a business class ticket for travel with LOT or any other Star Alliance member airline, and those who are members of a Star Alliance 'Gold' loyalty program (such as Miles & More Senator status) or the Polish State Airports authority's 'Good Start' program. The Polonez lounge recently, in 2010, underwent a major refit and is now claimed to be able to offer high-quality standards of service to all passengers who wish to make use of it. Some examples of services offered to passengers include business conferencing facilities, internet access, work space, local, national and foreign-language media (newspapers and television) and, a new development, individual access to an Apple iPad.
The Polonez lounge's opening hours are currently coordinated with those of LOT's flight schedule, however, it has been stated that these times are open to review at any time and could well be changed in the future. The lounge is located in Chopin Airport's Terminal A, one floor above the departures lounge (in the Schengen zone after security check), and is accessible by stairs and lift.
During the Cold War, when Europe was divided by the Iron Curtain, several LOT planes were hijacked and forced to land in a Western country, predominantly in Germany and especially in West Berlin, because of it being situated like an island in the Eastern Bloc. The hijackers were usually not prosecuted there, but could claim for political asylum, along with all other passengers who wished to do so.
Media related to LOT Polish Airlines at Wikimedia Commons