Romania’s TAROM Wants To Fly Nonstop To The US

Filed Under: Other Airlines

It’s always amazing to me how many airlines want to fly nonstop to the US, even when there’s no business case for it.

As Kenya Airways’ CEO said earlier this year (just months after launching Nairobi to New York flights):

“I do not consider it to be a lucrative route. There is nothing lucrative about flying to New York.”

But that doesn’t stop other airlines from trying…

TAROM Plans To Fly To New York

Romanian flag carrier and SkyTeam member TAROM plans on launching flights between Bucharest and New York as of the summer of 2020. The airline stopped flying to New York in 2003, so I guess this would be more of a service resumption than a new route altogether.

So, what are TAROM’s plans? According to Romanian media:

  • TAROM plans to submit an application with the DOT in the next week
  • TAROM plans to lease planes to make this flight a reality, and based on the sounds of it, plans on wet leasing (meaning they may use Hi Fly or another carrier); the airline currently has 25 planes, the biggest of which is a 737-800
  • The airline would operate the flight 4-5x per week
  • The airline would initially plan on a roughly six month lease of the plane, with the opportunity to extend it beyond that

Hi Fly has some new A330-900neos that are available for lease

Will This Route Really Happen?

This isn’t the first time that TAROM has claimed that they plan to resume flights to New York, so we’ll see if they’re more serious this time around.

There are so many airlines that talk about flying to the US, ranging from RwandAir to Air Peace to Vietnam Airlines to Atlantic Airways to MIAT Mongolian. Sometimes it happens (more often than it should, really), and more often than not it doesn’t.

Vietnam Airlines wants to fly to the US

I can’t imagine the route would be profitable, and for that matter TAROM has reported losses every year for the past decade plus, and I can’t imagine this would help. Given the aviation landscape in Europe, this just doesn’t seem especially wise to me.

Then again, Kenya Airways has perpetually been on the brink of collapse for several years, and that didn’t stop them from launching flights to New York.

Kenya Airways’ 787 in New York

If this route does happen, it seems much more likely that a Bucharest flight would be operated as a summer seasonal service by a US airline, given that we’ve seen an increasing amount of seasonal flying to Eastern Europe from US carriers.

Tiffany and I are soon flying TAROM from Bucharest to London, which is currently their longest route…

What do you think — could you see TAROM launch a Bucharest to New York flight?

Comments
  1. I used to fly Tarom’s non-stop Budapest-New York IL-62 in the 80s… those days the eastern European airlines were all gov owned and who cared that they all lost money. Malev ran b-767 non-stop between Budapest and NY with huge losses but who cared.
    Tarom is still owned by Romanian gov, so citizens pay for it, not investors.

  2. @Endre
    “I used to fly Tarom’s non-stop Budapest-New York IL-62 in the 80s”

    You either mix Budapest and Bucharest (Tarom never had any BUD-JFK route), or just made a typo. Given your Hungarian name, I thing the latter might be possible.

  3. My family used to take Tarom to NYC in the 1980’s. It was a running joke for decades afterward about how bad an airline could be.

  4. Most likely this route won’t happen or, if it does happen, it will be canceled shortly after. The transatlantic flights to/from Bucharest aren’t successful yet, for a variety of reasons. Delta tried a few years ago and gave up and Air Canada has only seasonal flights to Bucharest.

    Tarom is currently in a desperate situation, due to internal (corruption, nepotism etc) and external (stiff competition) issues, so they’re hoping that the long haul flights will be more profitable.

  5. It’s always amazing to me how someone with zero experience in the airline business and no insight into any market research data that the airline possesses, thinks he knows best what an airline should do. LOL!

  6. @e30
    Actually Tarom flew from Bucharest to Budapest, than flew to NY JFK non stop from Budapest. Crazy at it is, that was a great way to get to the US from Budapest. I was on that plane multiple times, so it did fly Bud-JFK non stop in the 80’s. We always had a remote stand for us JFK and bused to terminal. I had never been in Bucharest in my life, I lived in Budapest, so it had to be Budapest to JFK . 🙂
    Once Malev started flying the non stop I jumped over to that.

  7. What may not have worked for them then may work for them now. Keep in mind that:
    – Romania entered the EU in 2007.
    – Non-immigrant arrivals from Eastern Europe have doubled in the last 8 years.

    OTP seems to be on a mission to become a major connecting airport as well. There are three airports that have limited options for SkyTeam flyers from JFK:
    TBS: via CDG
    EVN: via CDG, SVO
    AMM: via CDG, FCO, JED, RUH
    Tarom flies from OTP to all of those, so they may be looking at some connecting traffic, too.

    Anecdotally:

    My own parents refuse to connect in any airport but CDG, meaning they usually overspend (*A and even BA are often cheaper). I (and they) would prefer they overspend on a direct flight than on a connection through a francophone airport.

    I last flew Tarom’s JFK-OTP route (via TSR) about 15 years ago, and the plane was full then (summer, mid-week to mid-week). I’ve been back probably 12 times since, and it’s like a whole other country now. I probably wouldn’t recognize 2004 Romania. That said, if they do introduce this route, I’ll probably continue to grab the cheapest flight into Europe and spend Avios or MileagePlus getting to OTP (or grab a low-cost to my hometown to also eliminate the train ride from Bucharest).

  8. @Endre
    Wow, thats crazy, I never knew that. Sorry. It must have been amazing flyin on an IL-62.
    Anyway, I wasn’t even born by that time. 😀

  9. Ben, what I think you’re overlooking is the structure of global business. Rwanda/Mongolia/etc are sort of obscure leisure destinations. Romania has become a major hub of global outsourcing/shared service centres for all kinds of companies, including (especially?) American multi-nationals. I suspect this route will actually be profitable.

  10. 1987 WAW to OTP on a Tarom Antonov AN 24, twenty four hour connection in Ceaușescu’s Bucharest, then Tarom BAC 111 to TLV.

  11. I could swear I saw a Tarom tail fin at ORD the other day…but the rest of the aircraft was obscured and it was only for a second. Must have been the new Lufthansa tail-fin, but I could have swore it was Tarom…

  12. I bought round trip tickets on Tarom from San Jose, Ca to Bucharest in January of 1991. It was the worst flight I ever had in my life. The plane landed in Prague for what was supposed to be a brief stop. Everyone had to leave the plane and we were abandoned in the airport for 3 days. They wouldn’t tell us what was going on. 150 Americans went to the airport administration office to complain and within 5 minutes there were about 30 soldiers with ouzies pointed at us to leave the room. No democracy there!
    They told us we could get our suitcases and passports and leave.
    I had 7 suitcases filled with donations and they never would have made it to Romania.
    Our return trip back to the states on Tarom was cancelled because their landing rights on any US airport had been taken away. It took me two weeks and a lot of “bakshish “ (and I had two little girls with me I had just adopted) to get a flight anywhere out of Romania.

  13. @e30st IL62 from Moscow to Phnom-Penh via Dubai in the late 80s and early 90s…that was something. Definitely better than the TU154 before that.

  14. According to the latest data, cca 2013, there are 6-8M Romanians living abroad. No matter how you slice it, there are more travelers today than in the ‘90’s, let alone ‘80’s. Also, with Romania’s full EU and NATO member status, there is increased traffic from a nr of international locations, including US. We’ll see how they execute, but Tarom has a very good chance to profitably operate the non/stop OTP-JFK route. Success!

  15. @e30st no problem. IL-62 was ok, but service was the typical communist attitude. You travel for us. Don’t bother with questions, sit, be quiet, and be happy we do this for you. 🙂 Later years, on Malev, on their B767, I asked for a Coke rather than Pepsi. I received a lengthy education from flight attendant on how they are the same and just because I’m flying to USA, I shouldn’t act like a baby asking for special beverages. omg… how refreshing was to remember how things are done in eastern block countries.

  16. Tarom used an A 310 to fly OTP-JFK nonstop during the 1990’s and the service was both reliable and perfectly tolerable. Not luxurious but not worse either from what the 3 big US provide in Economy nowadays.

    There was IFE, rather substandard and mostly in Romanian, but nobody yet had the crazy idea of making one pay to choose seats or for alcohol. Yes, the FAs were still Soviet molded but they tried as best as they knew to be nice to westerners. Many hoped for a date on arrival.

  17. LOT Polish Airlines flys direct to 5 cities in USA :
    NYC, Chicago, Miami , Los Angeles and (San Francisco starting summer 2020)

    Also recently LOT fly’s DIRECT on routes

    Budapest – JFK

    Biggest airline in central east Europe operating direct flights to USA and Canada

    That’s why there isn’t business making direct flights from Romania or so as they can fly with LOT via Warsaw

  18. @jukie LOT made a base at BUD, they’re flying to ORD, JFK and ICN but ORD service is only seasonal and plenty of EU routes plus AA is starting seasonal ORD service too.
    @Katie what you saw was LOT 100% their tail fin logos are very similar

  19. The airline climate in Eastern Europe has changed a lot since Romania joined the EU. Wizz Air is killing it along with LOT (LOT’s international expansion out of BUD proves this). Tarom has always been mediocre, but if they get their act together they have a great shot at connecting Eastern Europe quite nicely with the West. The real issue here is OTP. That airport is a damned trainwreck. I have yet to land at a real gate there, the airport is badly in need of an expansion and an overhaul! If Tarom wants to work not just at the O&D game but at the connections game then they need to do something about OTP, and it’s not like they don’t have space. It’s all farmland around the airport!

  20. I fly TAROM a lot and would love a non stop flight from JFK to Bucharest. Right now I either go from JFK to CDG, or Heathrow. I have gone through Rome and also through Amersterdam. Heathrow was probably the worst but even at that now bad just little below the others. OPT at Bucherest is nice and the employees at the airport are always very friendly to me. My experience on all the TAROM flights have been good. They are nice folks. Once when my plans changed suddenly TAROM was the only airline that gave me a full refund. The American carrier that I was flying to connect to TAROM treated me very poorly and gave me such a hard time. Finally they refunded a small part of my money. Guess I should have purchased the trip insurance.

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