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LOT Polish Airlines SWOT: Central Europe's favourite network airline

LOT Polish Airlines turned 90 on 1-Jan-2019. In 2019 it expects to carry 10 million passengers for the first time – more than twice its traffic of just four years ago. Reaching these milestones underlines the success of its restructuring following a turbulent period in 2008 to 2015.

LOT escaped the fate of some other Central European flag carriers (such as Malev, which went bust in 2012), but had to be rescued by a Polish government loan in 2012. This state aid was approved by the European Commission subject to a restructuring programme. Cost reductions, fleet modernisation and a network overhaul made LOT much more competitive, although it faces strong low cost competition on short haul.

Being Central Europe's only long haul operator of any significance, LOT has ambitions to be the region's favourite network airline. Although Poland passed legislation allowing LOT's privatisation as long ago as 2013, a private investor is no longer seen as imperative.

Nevertheless, as a Star member, but too small to be in the inner circle of JV members, LOT could arguably benefit from closer links to an airline with greater financial and network reach.

This report looks at LOT's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

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