Budget airline Wizz Air aims to get a twice-weekly service up and running between Aberdeen and Gdansk, in Poland, in July.
The eastern European airline has two flights scheduled for take-off from the Granite City to Gdansk this month, on Saturday (June 5) and Saturday June 12.
But bookings are also now being taken for Tuesdays and Saturdays, in both directions, from July 6.
Route boost for the Granite City
A spokesman for Aberdeen International Airport owner AGS Airports said: “It is great to see the restart of routes like Gdansk with Wizz Air.
“Bringing back business safely is a key priority at our airports and travel to Gdansk will help strengthen Aberdeen’s connectivity.”
AGS also owns and operates Glasgow and Southhampton airports.
Poland is currently on the UK Government’s “amber list”, meaning only essential travel is allowed but holidays are, confusingly for many people, not expressly banned.
If you are arriving from an amber list country, you have to quarantine for 10 days and take Covid-19 tests, but you can do this at home or the place you have chosen to stay rather than in a government-approved hotel.
You do not have to prove an essential reason for flying to an amber list country, nor can you be fined for doing so.
Hungary-based Wizz – launched in 2003 and operational since May 2004 – now boasts 710 routes, Covid-19 notwithstanding, from 151 airports in 44 countries.
It first started flying between Aberdeen and the Baltic coast city of Gdansk, which recently hosted the UEFA Europa League final between Villareal and Manchester United, in June 2015.
The carrier had initially targeted energy industry business passengers on the route, as well as north-east leisure travellers looking for somewhere different for a short break.
But the service has also turned out to be a popular connection option for passengers travelling from Aberdeen to other parts of eastern Europe.
News of the flights going back to being twice a week from next month coincides with Wizz posting pre-tax losses of £487.6 million for the 12 months to March 31 2021, compared with profits of £253.1m a year ago.
Passenger numbers and revenue plunged by 75% to 10.2 million and 73% to £636m over the period as the coronavirus pandemic battered aviation worldwide.
Chief executive Jozsef Varadi said: “This was probably one of the most challenging years for the aviation industry, heavily impacted by Covid-19 related regulations.
“Despite these unprecedented challenges, we stayed in control of our cost structure, preserved our cash position and maintained our investment grade balance sheet.
“Passenger and revenue figures reflect the sharp cut back in capacity throughout the year as a result of travel restrictions across Europe.”
Mr Varadi said “agility” had been key in navigating the year, adding: “We expanded from 25 to 43 operating or announced bases, which inherently increases flexibility.
“We continuously realigned capacity with ever-changing restrictions, ramping up to 80% in the span of weeks over summer 2020 and then down to 20% only weeks later.
“Our swift and decisive actions, taken at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, allowed us to better protect our financial position, and 80% of the Wizz Air jobs in a context of a 75% business decline.
“These decisions were not easy and the work delivered by our colleagues in this past year was nothing short of heroic.”
Wizz expects to fly about 30% of its normal operating capacity in the first quarter of its new trading year.
The airline added it was resuming all cash-contributing flying, subject to government-imposed restrictions.
Further net losses are expected in 2021-22, with 2022-23 forecast to deliver full capacity in a “strong trading environment”.
Budget airline Ryanair has reported a large jump in passenger numbers for May.
Ryanair said 1.8 million people flew with it last month, up from 70,000 in May 2020.
The Dublin-based carrier operated more than 12,000 flights in May of this year, with a 79% load factor – a measure of how well an airline fills its planes.
Ryanair found itself at the heart of an international outcry last month, when one of its flights was forced to land in Belarus.
Flight FR4978 was headed for Vilnius, Lithuania when it was suddenly forced to divert to Minsk, where police arrested dissident Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich.