One can imagine how serious this concept is, although this is certainly one of the more unusual airline startups we’ve heard of.
What is PRAGUSA.ONE?
Simple Flying reports on PRAGUSA.ONE, a new startup of a European airline:
- The airline plans to launch in June 2021 with four wet-leased aircraft, including two A350-900s and two A330-300s
- The airline hopes to have a permanent fleet of four A350-900s by 2024, for which the airline is reportedly currently negotiating
- The airline would be based in both Dubrovnik and Prague and operate long-haul flights from there, including to Beijing, Chengdu, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, New York, Singapore and Tokyo
- The name “PRAGUSA” is not a combination of “Prague” and “USA”, but a combination of “Prague” and “Ragusa”, the latter being the historical name for Dubrovnik
- Perhaps most bizarre is that the airline would be an all premium economy airline, so the A350-900 would only have 251 seats. For comparison: French bee has 411 seats on their A350, 35 premium economy seats and 376 economy seats
- Behind this is a British company that wants to apply for an airline certificate in April 2021. The airline has allegedly already received incentives from the two airports
Reproduction of PRAGUSA.ONE A350-900
Planned route map for PRAGUSA.ONE
Yeah, I don’t know …
We hear of an endless number of airline startup concepts, most of which never materialize. So I’m not writing about it because I’m telling someone to write a pencil on a PRAGUSA.ONE trip between Los Angeles and Dubrovnik in June 2021, but because I find this stuff fascinating.
I have to be honest, but this concept is a real mystery to me:
- We have learned time and again that low-cost, long-haul airlines (like Norwegian ones) don’t work. But that also raises the question of what exactly is this airline supposed to be?
- Is the airline hoping enough people will pay a significant premium to fly premium economy over economy? I might see some credit for something like this in a prime business market or a super premium leisure market, but not in budget conscious, low-traffic point-to-point leisure markets
- While this concept might work in summer, how is it supposed to work in winter? Is there hope that enough people in Croatia and the Czech Republic will try to travel on these flights in winter?
- The fact that the company is even proposing a start in June 2021 makes me doubt its legitimacy. It takes more time to set up an airline and get all the necessary regulatory approvals, and that doesn’t even explain the fact that international travel is largely impossible in the markets the airline is targeting
Don’t get me wrong, Central and Eastern Europe could use more long haul connections and I would like to see how this unique concept works. However, it is especially difficult to run a successful long-haul airline, especially one that relies on seasonal tourism. Letting the airline exclusively offer premium economy, in my opinion, only makes the economy more difficult.
The A350 with the most premium economy seats are the Singapore Airlines A350-900ULR, which have historically been used for non-stop flights from Singapore to Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. These aircraft only have 161 seats, including 67 business class seats and 94 premium economy seats.
Even Singapore Airlines struggled to sell premium economy seats on these routes, and fares were, for the most part, surprisingly low.
The Premium Economy A350-900ULR from Singapore Airlines
PRAGUSA.ONE is a startup hoping to eventually fly a fleet of four A350s in a premium economy configuration from Dubrovnik and Prague to destinations around the world.
While I like to see innovation in the aerospace industry and I would love it for such a concept to work, I just don’t understand how the math could possibly make sense.
What do you think of the PRAGUSA.ONE concept?