LOT Polish Airlines Outlines Huge Expansion Plans

LOT Polish Airlines Outlines Huge Expansion Plans

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LOT Polish Airlines has made quite some announcements this week. The airline revealed plans to refresh its Boeing 787 fleet, and plans to open a lounge at Chicago O’Hare. On top of that, the airline has announced plans to considerably expand, though as of now there are more questions than answers.

LOT wants to expand fleet to 110 planes by 2028

By 2028, LOT Polish Airlines is hoping to grow its fleet from 75 aircraft to 110 aircraft, representing a nearly 50% increase in its fleet size. Even more impressive is that the airline is hoping to grow its passenger numbers by 70%, from 10.3 million to 16.9 million annually, so the airline hopes to fly a lot more large aircraft.

For context, LOT currently has 15 Boeing 787s (-8s and -9s), 17 Boeing 737s (-800s and -MAX 8 s), and 43 Embraer jets (-170s, -175s, -190s, and -195s).

Hoping to add 35 aircraft in the next five years is pretty ambitious, given LOT’s small size, plus the general order backlog with aircraft manufacturers. As of now, the airline has just hinted at the following:

  • In 2024, LOT will decide on a new regional aircraft; this could very well be Embraer E2 jets, which are the latest generation Embraer regional jets; this might not necessarily be for fleet growth, though, but may be to refresh the existing fleet
  • LOT also plans to eventually order more wide body aircraft, but that order isn’t expected within the next year; if the airline wants to grow its long haul network, it’s going to need more aircraft, and you’d think the airline would just expand its 787 fleet
  • When LOT reaches a fleet of 110 aircraft, the plan is for 40% of the jets to be regional, 35% of the jets to be narrow bodies, and 25% of the jets to be wide bodies; this suggests that most of the fleet growth will come in the form of more narrow body and wide body aircraft

What’s interesting is that LOT had a major event at its headquarters that was even attended by Poland’s Prime Minister. There were representatives from both Embraer and Airbus at the event, but not representatives from Boeing, despite the carrier flying 737s and 787s. I’m not sure if that’s indicative of the carrier’s future fleet plans, or if Boeing just felt it didn’t need to show up.

LOT plans to significantly grow its fleet

LOT wants to add 20 new routes by 2028

What does LOT Polish Airlines want to do with all of these new planes? The airline intends to add at least 20 new routes by 2028, and the airline has shared dozens of routes that are under consideration. This includes a lot of regional routes, but perhaps the most interesting adds would be new medium and long haul services:

  • In North America, LOT is considering adding flights to Boston (BOS), Montreal (YUL), San Francisco (SFO), and Washington (IAD)
  • In North and Southeast Asia, LOT is considering adding flights to Bangkok (BKK), Busan (PUS), Colombo (CMB), Hanoi (HAN), Ho Chi Minh City (SGN), Osaka (KIX), Shanghai (PVG), and Singapore (SIN)
  • In the Middle East and Central Asia, LOT is considering adding flights to Abu Dhabi (AUH), Amman (AMM), Almaty (ALA), Riyadh (RUH), Tashkent (TAS), and Tehran (IKA)

My take on LOT’s ambitious growth plans

LOT Polish Airlines is government owned, and it seems that the airline is very much approaching this growth from the standpoint of aviation connectivity being a driver for economic growth, more than anything else.

Now, the airline is emphasizing the importance of sustainable growth, so I don’t think LOT is going to take the same approach that Etihad did under James Hogan a decade ago (for that matter, I don’t think Poland’s government has quite as much money to light on fire).

It’s cool to see that LOT is planning on growing significantly — the airline is doing reasonably well, especially when you consider the bad financial situation it was in a few years ago.

All that being said, I wouldn’t put too much weight on this announcement, and I’d be shocked if this plays out the way the airline plans:

  • The airline hasn’t actually committed to new planes yet, and doesn’t even plan to order new wide body jets within the next year
  • All it takes is a slight strategy change for the government or economic downturn, and then this plan will be put on pause
  • While it’s nice to see LOT’s general transformation and sustainable growth, it’s a bit frustrating to see the pace at which everything is happening; for example, the airline is refreshing its Boeing 787 cabins (which is long overdue), but that process will only start in late 2026

As I’ve said before, I can’t help but think that LOT Polish Airlines is in the wrong alliance, and should be in oneworld rather than Star Alliance. The carrier is treated as a second class airline in the alliance, and is excluded from the Star Alliance transatlantic joint venture. Meanwhile oneworld has a huge gap in Eastern Europe. Then again, I can’t imagine British Airways would be open to adding any European airline to the alliance that it doesn’t own.

But anyway, if I were playing alliance and airline matchmaker, LOT and oneworld are among the top five introductions I’d make. 😉

I wouldn’t count on this growth happening as planned

Bottom line

LOT Polish Airlines has unveiled ambitious growth plans, as the airline hopes to grow its fleet from 75 aircraft to 110 aircraft by 2028. Along with that, the airline hopes to add 20 new destinations, and increase passenger numbers by 70%.

It would be cool to see the airline grow, though I wouldn’t rely on this announcement too much just yet. This seems more like a best case scenario goal rather than a firm plan.

What do you make of LOT’s growth plans?

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  1. Asa George Guest

    Curiously,LOT did start out as One world,or at least in partnership with AA.Just before the pandemic was poised to purchase Condor.The timeline is typically Polish,slow and steady
    Not long ago the poor man of the soviet bloc,in less than 20 years Poland has achieved the 6th biggest EU economy.

  2. Matthew L Guest

    You don't realize that LOT stopped selling United tickets. Also, on a lot of routes connecting in the USA, LOT is now selling connections on American Airlines despite them being in different alliances. Before this, LOT has had been selling connecting tickets to London through British Airways, or maybe it was the other way around. But basically LOT is already halfway to being in OneWorld.

  3. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    I wish that LOT would join OneWorld!

    Is LOT being sold soon? I thought they were in a similar position at TAP Portugal and being sold off!

  4. Steven Guest

    Cool. But the language here is even more vague than Lufthansa’s new business class.

  5. Mike Mahoney Guest

    Interesting article and thought on them joining one world. Unfortunately there frequent flyer program is tied to Lufthansa. I've often wondered why Lufthansa hasn't made a bid to acquire them.

  6. Karl Guest

    At least LOT under PiS will grow and wants to grow and that is great to know .
    It all starts with intentions and pre election is the best period to see it .
    Haters voting for PO would have LOT sold to Lufthansa dirt cheap as previous government purposely devalued LOT so it would be easier to sell and for less ....Criminal action that was never prosecuted.

  7. Abidjan Gold

    Love the NA expansionm plans and hope it comes to fruition. Also agree OneWorld is a better fit.

  8. Juraj Member

    Ben, as others have pointed out, everything that comes out of Poland these days should be viewed through the lens of the upcoming parliamentary election, which puts the current ruling parties at risk.
    This has prompted the government pull out all the stops in state-owned enterprises to paint a picture of a bright future for Poland. This included a sudden gas price drop in some regions, grandiose project announcements, military helicopter flyovers at campaign...

    Ben, as others have pointed out, everything that comes out of Poland these days should be viewed through the lens of the upcoming parliamentary election, which puts the current ruling parties at risk.
    This has prompted the government pull out all the stops in state-owned enterprises to paint a picture of a bright future for Poland. This included a sudden gas price drop in some regions, grandiose project announcements, military helicopter flyovers at campaign rallies and a myriad of other populist BS.

    1. Albert Guest

      Yup, we're filling up the cannisters while the gas prices are 20% below what they have been until just now.

    2. Max Guest

      As a neighboring German I'm saying thanks to the Polish tax payers for subsidizing my fuel!

    3. KT Guest

      You are wrong - the fuel prices were lowered all over Poland ;) other than that - you are correct.

  9. MFK Guest

    Not sure I’d say Almaty and Tashkent are in the Middle East, but it would be nice to have another option for getting to those cities.

  10. Leigh Guest

    In general, I agree with Ben. SkyTeam and Star control Central Europe. LHR is the biggest European fortress hub regardless, but MAD seems more regional. I think LOT would be a nice fit for oneworld...oneworld airlines seem to be really lifting their game (except you, IB), and it seems like LOT is doing the same.

    However, some of those proposed routes make zero sense. Busan, Colombo, and some of the others?? And the mix of...

    In general, I agree with Ben. SkyTeam and Star control Central Europe. LHR is the biggest European fortress hub regardless, but MAD seems more regional. I think LOT would be a nice fit for oneworld...oneworld airlines seem to be really lifting their game (except you, IB), and it seems like LOT is doing the same.

    However, some of those proposed routes make zero sense. Busan, Colombo, and some of the others?? And the mix of aircraft looks like they'll continue to be more regional/mid-haul.

    1. KT Guest

      They are probably looking at Busan because Seoul works out well for them and the economic links between Poland and Korea are strong and getting stronger. There are no European carriers in BUS so this could be a nice niche market for LO. On the other hand LH couldn't make BUS work so this would be even more of a challange for LO. Also - the current bilaterals don't even allow to fly to ICN...

      They are probably looking at Busan because Seoul works out well for them and the economic links between Poland and Korea are strong and getting stronger. There are no European carriers in BUS so this could be a nice niche market for LO. On the other hand LH couldn't make BUS work so this would be even more of a challange for LO. Also - the current bilaterals don't even allow to fly to ICN daily, so BUS is a bit of a stretch.

      Sri Lanka is a touristic destination and might work for them, especially as a winter seasonal destination to balance less demand on TATL. LO knows the market as the have been flying charters to CMB.

  11. Kredie Guest

    A lot of this looks like pre-election BS (a hotly contested parliamentary election is one week away). They just turned down two 787 which are now rotting in the Mojave desert. Major litigation with Boeing. Who knows if the central hub airport ever materializes.

  12. SCHH Guest

    Boeing was likely persona non grata. Major falling out due to Boeing not being contractually obligated to provide compensation for the MAX grounding.

    LOT first petitioned Boeing to provide the compensation and when unsuccessful, sued. That also was unsuccessful.

    To stick it to Boeing, LOT walked away from a pair of fully built 787-9s because delivery delays gave them an out. In retrospect, a decision they now likely regret.

    As for expansion, WAW is too...

    Boeing was likely persona non grata. Major falling out due to Boeing not being contractually obligated to provide compensation for the MAX grounding.

    LOT first petitioned Boeing to provide the compensation and when unsuccessful, sued. That also was unsuccessful.

    To stick it to Boeing, LOT walked away from a pair of fully built 787-9s because delivery delays gave them an out. In retrospect, a decision they now likely regret.

    As for expansion, WAW is too small to reach that goal. They must be banking on the solidarity transport hub becoming a reality.

  13. Billy Bob Guest

    They actually have a non-stop from Seoul to of all places Wroclaw. I'll be in Poland for a week next month but not flying LOT.

    1. Extraordinary1 Member

      They have a few interesting routes such as New York to Rzeszow.

    2. Albert Guest

      Is that for a particular Korean-owned factory?
      The same reason as Seoul-Prague?

    3. KT Guest

      There is a lot of Korean investment in and around Wroclaw - LG Electronics and LG Energy Solution being the biggest, but plenty others too

  14. PUS Guest

    As a Korean, it is very welcome that Busan is included in the list of candidates for new routes. I hope that actual service takes place.

  15. Andy Diamond

    Fully agree they should join Oneworld. Being LH’s unwanted child gives no perspective.

  16. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Scott Kirby has repeatedly told us that United's repeated large orders are necessary because delivery slots are scarce so LOT might not succeed at acquiring anything.
    But then there have been a number of very large airplane orders by other airlines after every UA order so maybe Scott Kirby is, shall we say, stopped up.

    Air France/KLM won SAS because SAS specifically said they were excluded from the AC/UA/LH Group transatlantic joint venture and...

    Scott Kirby has repeatedly told us that United's repeated large orders are necessary because delivery slots are scarce so LOT might not succeed at acquiring anything.
    But then there have been a number of very large airplane orders by other airlines after every UA order so maybe Scott Kirby is, shall we say, stopped up.

    Air France/KLM won SAS because SAS specifically said they were excluded from the AC/UA/LH Group transatlantic joint venture and therefore uncompetitive. LOT might not have what it takes to be part of any JV and might be planning to go it alone but if they aren't even given the option of being a part of the Star JV, they should shop around.

    and for LH Group, having Star carriers defect on multiple sides of Germany could quickly alter the strength of the TATL market. TAP Air Portugal is still in flux.

    oneworld needs help in continental Europe. Period. Spain is simply not a great connecting hub. Whether SAS also talked to oneworld or not might not ever be publicly known but being an island as a small airline in the middle of a big continent as part of an alliance where there are no strong players might not a very good solution for LOT.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      You trying to be a comedian now?

      LOT might not succeed at acquiring anything.
      So, the conversation goes like this?
      LOT: We want some planes.
      Boeing: Nope, no planes for you.
      LOT: Not even 737?
      Boeing: Nope, no planes for you.
      LOT: Or the 787?
      Boeing: Nope, no planes for you.

      I'm sure LOT can acquire planes, maybe not in 2024, but Boeing is definitely selling them planes.

      ...

      You trying to be a comedian now?

      LOT might not succeed at acquiring anything.
      So, the conversation goes like this?
      LOT: We want some planes.
      Boeing: Nope, no planes for you.
      LOT: Not even 737?
      Boeing: Nope, no planes for you.
      LOT: Or the 787?
      Boeing: Nope, no planes for you.

      I'm sure LOT can acquire planes, maybe not in 2024, but Boeing is definitely selling them planes.

      Then, What the fluff Tim?
      Air France/KLM won SAS because they bid on a Chapter 11 company. Had nothing to do with JV nor Lufthansa ever made a bid. If Tim Dunn made a very generous bid (and actually have money to do it) I'm sure SAS will join SkyTimAlliance if you say so.

      And what is so bad about Spain being a not great connecting hub?
      You're not even trying to bullfluff this?

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      a whole lot went over your head.
      1. see the post from SCHH above .
      2. pull out a map of Europe and it might be clear why the largest JV hubs are all in northern Europe and why Spain is at a geographic disadvantage
      3. look at a ranking of countries in Europe by GDP and it should be even more clear why Spain is at a disadvantage to the UK,...

      a whole lot went over your head.
      1. see the post from SCHH above .
      2. pull out a map of Europe and it might be clear why the largest JV hubs are all in northern Europe and why Spain is at a geographic disadvantage
      3. look at a ranking of countries in Europe by GDP and it should be even more clear why Spain is at a disadvantage to the UK, Germany and France in the amount of transatlantic air service. AMS has a much TATL service as it does because of geography; and alot of Dutch don't like the idea that their country is used for as much connecting traffic as it supports. Moving that show to MAD makes no sense.
      4. add a sprinkle of satire about what I said about Scott Kirby

    3. Eskimo Guest

      Thanks for the clarification Tim. Some fluff still made it through but that's an improvement.

      1.1 You know that @SCHH says "Boeing" (not LOT) was likely persona non grata.
      1.2 LOT might not succeed at acquiring anything.
      So, the conversation goes like this?
      LOT: We want some planes.
      Airbus: Nope, no planes for you.
      LOT: Not even A350?
      Airbus: Nope, no planes for you.
      LOT: Or the A321?

      Thanks for the clarification Tim. Some fluff still made it through but that's an improvement.

      1.1 You know that @SCHH says "Boeing" (not LOT) was likely persona non grata.
      1.2 LOT might not succeed at acquiring anything.
      So, the conversation goes like this?
      LOT: We want some planes.
      Airbus: Nope, no planes for you.
      LOT: Not even A350?
      Airbus: Nope, no planes for you.
      LOT: Or the A321?
      Airbus: Nope, no planes for you.

      I'm sure LOT can acquire planes, maybe not in 2024, but Airbus is definitely selling them planes. (Boeing too, but you're just going to argue)

      2. I don't think Germany or LH thinks they have a geographic disadvantage over northern Europe. (see SAS). Unless you think the earth is flat.

      3. GDP? But when AMS breaks your GDP theory, you fluff about geography. Is GDP even relevant or not. I see Italy too. Or it's the northern geography because Ireland, Iceland, Norway is missing?

      4. Finally the comedic non fluff from Tim Dunn.

    4. Tim Dunn Diamond

      sounds to me like a lot of editorial alteration of the conversation on YOUR end.
      We don't even know if LOT has any

    5. Tim Dunn Diamond

      made any plans to change its procurement of Boeing planes but they clearly need more planes to execute their expansion plans if they come to fruition.
      based on the above, LOT has every reason to look elsewhere.
      We have no information on what production slots LOT might be asking for at Airbus but you can believe that Airbus would love to flip a Boeing-loyal customer and they can find the relatively few production...

      made any plans to change its procurement of Boeing planes but they clearly need more planes to execute their expansion plans if they come to fruition.
      based on the above, LOT has every reason to look elsewhere.
      We have no information on what production slots LOT might be asking for at Airbus but you can believe that Airbus would love to flip a Boeing-loyal customer and they can find the relatively few production slots.

      I never said LH is at a geographic disadvantage in northern Europe. I did say that losing two former Star airlines and potentially another (TAP) to one or more other alliances has significant strategic implications for LH and Star and, indirectly AC and UA.

      It is clear that major US-EU hubs are driven by geography and the size of the local market which dictates the amount of flights that can support the local market.
      Given that you can't get the basic facts of the first two points right, I'll leave it to other readers to ponder the role of Spain vs. other hubs for US-EU connections. The simple fact is that Spain plays a very small part in US-EU connections

    6. Kredie Guest

      Agree, given LO hub's location (and with Malev gone ;) ), would be nice to see them in oneworld. Wondering how much of their operation is based on feeding LH though.

  17. Eskimo Guest

    So a 15-25 order of 787 coming soon?

    Can't get to Asia or America on 737MAX yet.

  18. AnishReddi Gold

    LOT just cancelled 2 787s, so this whole growth plan makes no sense. At the same time they have that new huge airport that aims to be a hub in Poland.

    1. Jordan Diamond

      Because the A350 does not exist?

  19. Simon Guest

    There’s a parliamentary election in Poland on Oct 15, so such vague promises for a state-controlled airline are no more than empty promises.

  20. misterpoppins Member

    Ben, what are the other 4 of top 5 introductions you’d make. Would love to see some option pieces on what you think of the industry!

  21. nate nate Guest

    What would happen to miles & more if LOT changed alliances?

  22. Paul Gold

    I've flown with LOT on intra-Europe routes. It was good enough service and I would like to see them expand. However, these plans seems unlikely to materialize.

  23. betterbub Diamond

    How is any flight from Europe to PUS supposed to make money? Am I missing something here?

  24. Unhoeflich Guest

    Elections are next weekend, so time for grand announcements.

    1. winmaciek Guest

      Exactly my thought. Nothing is strategic when the election (especially the parliamentary one) is looming in Poland. To give you an idea, last month PGE, the largest power-producing company in Poland unveiled new grand strategy. The strategy, outlined for the next 20+ years, did not survive even a week due to the upset caused among miners.
      I would say that the story about the seats posted earlier today is likely and this is more...

      Exactly my thought. Nothing is strategic when the election (especially the parliamentary one) is looming in Poland. To give you an idea, last month PGE, the largest power-producing company in Poland unveiled new grand strategy. The strategy, outlined for the next 20+ years, did not survive even a week due to the upset caused among miners.
      I would say that the story about the seats posted earlier today is likely and this is more of a campaign fuel. If the current government party wins then maybe, just maybe, this has some chance of actually being carried out, at least to some extent. This would make some sense, at least on the surface, as the hallmark project of this government is the Central Communications Port (CPK) – basically a hub transportation hub in the middle of the country. And it’s not like all of the capacity that it would provide would be filled by the likes of Air France/KLM, Lufthansa or British Airways.

  25. AA FA Guest

    With LOT losing its codeshare status with United, NS24 would be the PERFECT opportunity for AA to launch its 2020 service to Krakow. It could stop LOT from building their lounge, solidify AA dominance on the route while LOT still flies outdated 787s, and reasonably turn into a year round service.

    Alas, AA/US Scareways management has no b@lls and no desire to compete.

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winmaciek Guest

Exactly my thought. Nothing is strategic when the election (especially the parliamentary one) is looming in Poland. To give you an idea, last month PGE, the largest power-producing company in Poland unveiled new grand strategy. The strategy, outlined for the next 20+ years, did not survive even a week due to the upset caused among miners. I would say that the story about the seats posted earlier today is likely and this is more of a campaign fuel. If the current government party wins then maybe, just maybe, this has some chance of actually being carried out, at least to some extent. This would make some sense, at least on the surface, as the hallmark project of this government is the Central Communications Port (CPK) – basically a hub transportation hub in the middle of the country. And it’s not like all of the capacity that it would provide would be filled by the likes of Air France/KLM, Lufthansa or British Airways.

2
Max Guest

As a neighboring German I'm saying thanks to the Polish tax payers for subsidizing my fuel!

1
Albert Guest

Yup, we're filling up the cannisters while the gas prices are 20% below what they have been until just now.

1
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