*UPDATED: Nov. 28 at 12:25 p.m.
This summer, Pittsburghers wanting to fly to Europe can do so for as little as $99.
Bargain airlines Condor and WOW will offer low-cost, non-stop flights to Frankfurt, Germany and Reykjavik, Iceland, respectively. Condor will offer service twice per week throughout the summer, while WOW’s service will run four times per week, year-round.
WOW will offer some one-way tickets to Iceland for as low as $99, and travelers can continue to other European cities like Paris, Dublin, Berlin and London for $150.
The rise of these small, low-cost airlines might benefit Pittsburgh travelers looking for cheap routes to Europe, but travelers will get what they pay for. Seth Kaplan, managing partner at Airline Weekly, noted that cheap tickets don't always provide luxury service.
“This is basic, safe air travel,” Kaplan said. “The fare gives you just that, safe travel to where you’re going. It doesn’t even include a bag. It certainly doesn’t include any other kinds of luxuries, not even food.”
Condor officials said the economy class flights do include food and beverage service, as well as a free checked bag. The airline also offers premium and business class seats for upgraded service.
Though these flights might benefit Pittsburgh travelers looking to pinch some pennies, the airlines will still need to sell enough flights to stay viable.
Bob Kerlik, spokesman for Pittsburgh International Airport, cited the region’s historical demand for non-stop trans-Atlantic service as evidence that these low-cost flights should be sustainable.
Despite demand, each airline will still have a lot of seats to fill. Condor’s flights to Frankfurt will serve 259 passengers and WOW’s flights to Reykjavik will offer seats for 220.
Kerlik said the Pittsburgh airport is working with the airlines to target business and leisure travelers.
“That’s something that we are working very closely with the community on,” Kerlik said. “We partnered with Visit Pittsburgh, we partnered with The Allegheny Conference and we partnered with the Pittsburgh Tech Council.”
Kaplan said these cheap flights are possible primarily because low jet fuel prices.
“A lot of things are viable right now that weren’t available a few years ago,” he said.
Kaplan also suggested another motivation for offering these flights in Pittsburgh: the marked lack of major airline competition.
“The absence of a hub kind of makes it a place where other airlines feel they can come in and establish themselves,” he said referencing U.S. Airways’ discontinuation of service to Pittsburgh International Airport. “Now airlines kind of see the market is up for grabs, and that’s actually kind of helping lure some of this new service.”