Trip report: Braathens Regional Airlines – Klagenfurt Airport

BRA logo (Photo: Andreas Knoll).
BRA logo (Photo: Andreas Knoll).

Trip report: Braathens Regional Airlines – Klagenfurt Airport

BRA logo (Photo: Andreas Knoll).
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It is Friday, May 10, 2024 and I am currently on the train on the way to Copenhagen Airport. From there, Austrian Airlines will take you to Vienna at 20 p.m. sharp in the evening and then directly on to your final destination, Klagenfurt.

The core topic of the report, however, is dedicated to the topic of “Braathens Regional Airlines”, which was hired by Austrian Airlines to operate feeder flights. Further focus is on Klagenfurt Airport. After landing on time in Vienna at 21:40 p.m., we continue directly to gate F06, where boarding for the flight to the Carinthian state capital takes place.

Departure is scheduled for 22:35 p.m. At this point it is really very quiet in the entire terminal. The only thing that shines at you on the display screen is the Austrian logo and from the outside there is basically nothing to suggest that a Swedish airline will be operating this flight. During the boarding announcements, the friendly lady at the counter only briefly mentions in German and English that this flight is operated on behalf of Braathens Regional Airlines.

We passengers are chauffeured to the plane by bus transfer. Since I like to identify as a listening and curious person and am always aware of a lot of the overall situation, I can also say something roughly about the passengers present. I noticed three groups of the languages ​​spoken.

Firstly, of course, the Carinthian dialect, which I speak myself and grew up with. Secondly, there are a few men sitting in a heap, all dressed in business clothes, all speaking standard German to each other and probably on a business trip in Carinthia. Thirdly, I hear a woman and her son talking in Slovenian, which is not uncommon as we know from the statistics that Slovenian passengers very often fly from Carinthia and of course vice versa due to the geographical proximity.

Scoreboard at the gate (Photo: Andreas Knoll).

After the bus ride, an ATR 72-600 with the name Braathens awaits us. Entry into this propeller aircraft is via the back door. Of the 72 available seats, only half are estimated to be occupied that evening. However, it must be mentioned that the day before Thursday was Ascension Day and was a public holiday throughout Austria. So, theoretically, this Friday would be a window day and not a normal working week.

ATR72-600 (Photo: Andreas Knoll).

The announcements are all made in English. As an on-board product you get a small Vöslauer water and a chocolate for the flight time of 45 minutes. The staff at Braathens even tries to speak a little German with small gestures such as good evening, please, thank you and goodbye, which I personally really appreciate, even though their native language is Swedish.

The cabin generally looks very clean and modern. I also have little to complain about when it comes to legroom, as I'm 185 centimeters tall and it feels like it's the same as any other plane.

I haven't flown a propeller plane for a few years now, but I have the feeling that this ATR 72 has incredible power when accelerating and is in the air in no time. Of course this machine is a little louder, especially when you sit close to the propellers, but once the machine is in the air it's completely fine. At 23:20 p.m. we land in Klagenfurt without any problems and the plane and its crew make their night stop here.

ATR72-600 (Photo: Andreas Knoll).

The Trip Report will continue four days later on Tuesday morning, May 14th in reverse order.

After arriving at Klagenfurt Airport at 5 a.m., despite checking in online on my smartphone and hand luggage, I picked up my paper boarding passes from the nice ladies at the counter. I'm just a big fan of still getting these in real life.

The biggest advantage of regional airports is simply that you can get through security within minutes and fly off to a hub without any stress. The morning flight from Klagenfurt is always scheduled for 5:45 a.m. It is not for nothing that it is called the most important flight of the day for businesses, allowing them to switch to international destinations with the morning wave. There are significantly more people today than on my Friday evening flight. I would roughly estimate around 90% utilization, which is a very positive sign. If you look and listen around in the waiting hall, I can basically only hear German. Most of them are dressed very business-like. Despite the early hour, some people greet each other very friendly and seem to know each other very casually.

There's really nothing better than flying to and from a regional airport and talking to other passengers who come from the same region. That's exactly what makes an airport like Klagenfurt special. I also get to know the person sitting next to me better on this early flight and we have a great conversation about Carinthia and the world. It's great when people are still talking to each other and you can potentially make new contacts again instead of constantly hiding behind your headphones.

In Klagenfurt, passengers walk across the apron to the plane without any stress. Within a very short time the ATR is in the air and we are on the way to Vienna. From there, most of the paths diverge and each passenger flies out into the world with a new travel story.

View from the window (Photo: Andreas Knoll).

Conclusion

In principle, it doesn't matter who is flying this flight, the main thing is that the plane arrives on time and takes you safely from A to B. What is important, of course, is that the entire booking system works without any problems, the luggage is checked through and everything goes as it should, as expected the Lufthansa Group knows.

Furthermore, people don't care whether the crew only speaks English or not. With a flight time of 45 minutes, no one has to communicate much with anyone. If any older gentleman or lady who doesn't speak English has problems, there will definitely be someone nice enough to help out with the resulting discussion. You can assume that all other passengers have at least the basics of English.

Regarding Klagenfurt Airport:

Until the twice daily Vienna flights are fully occupied with 2 passengers there and back, the word Frankfurt or Munich should not even be mentioned. Everything is controlled by the Lufthansa Group anyway and they will certainly now look closely at the numbers to see how this route performs with the smaller aircraft. However, for Klagenfurt it is like a gift to be able to get the all-important early and late flight back after all the turbulence.

In addition, Innsbruck and Linz have just been added to the Frankfurt hub in Austria. These two cities have, on the one hand, tourism (Innsbruck) and on the other hand, industrial (Linz) a lot more to offer than Carinthia, so you have to be honest as a Carinthian. Then you can roughly calculate how far Klagenfurt is from a connection to one of the two German hubs. Yes, it would be incredibly important, no question and everyone would want it, but you should always remain realistic.

Another problem that I often notice in Carinthia is that only a few parts of the population, mainly business travelers and people who fly around a lot on assembly lines, especially for large industrial companies in Carinthia, but many others have little to no idea what a hub airport is and what it is in this case Vienna flight actually exists.

The function of this flight needs to be explained much more to the general population, be it with simple videos or other methods. This could certainly generate many new passengers.

Furthermore, the contract with Braathens is limited, but it is not foreseeable that Austrian Airlines will purchase new propeller planes or get smaller aircraft than the current Embraer 195 with 120 seats. Whoever made this decision in the Lufthansa Group to include the Swedish airline in the wet lease agreement months ago really made one of the best deals in my opinion. From an economic perspective, there is certainly no better aircraft to serve these short routes, where there are no available aircraft on the aviation market anyway.

Statistics in the area of ​​Klagenfurt Airport

In February 2023, in response to a private request, Graz Airport informed me that it was assumed that “around 7-8% of our passengers come from Carinthia,” argued an employee.

If you take this percentage into account and calculate with the last few years before Corona, when there were a million passengers in Graz, or take the year 2023 with over 700 thousand passengers again, you can calculate how many Carinthians miss a home airport due to poor connections . That's roughly 50K - 80K Carinthian passengers every year, which is an incredible amount.

The Slovenian capital Ljubljana Airport will also have the same without being able to provide any official information. I have asked about this several times, but unfortunately have not received any information to date. If you add these two airports together, you can get an idea of ​​how many additional passengers are missing out and what would realistically be possible at PAX in Klagenfurt per year.

Because many critics always claim that Klagenfurt Airport has no right to exist, I unfortunately have to clearly disagree with that.

I accept any criticism that almost everything has been missed over the last few years or even decades, but there is still a lot to be said for its continued existence. If tourism, business and the airport would pull together and learn a little from the federal state of Salzburg or Tyrol, especially how to market winter tourism, there would still be countless potential that is unfortunately missing in Carinthia in this area. Germany and the Netherlands are by far the largest tourist countries that visit Carinthia every year in summer and winter.


This post was written by: Andreas Knoll, Feldkirchen (Carinthia).

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