FlyNiki gets busier between Vienna and Sofia

FlyNiki ups its efforts to outdo rivals Austrian Airlines (AUA) and Bulgaria Air as it launched a second daily connection between Vienna and Sofia earlier this week.The Vienna-based company headed by Niki Lauda announced today (Thurs) it was now offering two flights a day between the Austrian and Bulgarian capital. FlyNiki has been offering one connection a day for around half a year.FlyNiki explained it will operate morning and evening flights during the week, with one connection per day on Saturdays and Sundays.This announcement means the low cost carrier is putting more pressure on major competitors AUA and Bulgaria Air which also operate on the route.FlyNiki, which was founded in 2003, became Austria’s biggest airline when German company Lufthansa acquired a major interest in struggling AUA last year. Many economists said the takeover was the only option to save AUA from going bankrupt.FlyNiki, which cooperates with German budget carrier Air Berlin, had 2.6 million passengers last year. Lauda said recently it looked as if the company was able to achieve its goal to serve three million customers this year.Meanwhile, AUA’s passenger numbers are on the rise as the company continues to lay off staff in an attempt to get back in the black.Around 1.1 million people booked AUA flights in August of this year, up by 11.3 per cent compared to the previous month.AUA had an overall 7.3 million customers in the first eight months of 2010, up by 10.1 per cent compared to the same period of last year.The company currently has around 6,600 staff. Co-chiefs Peter Malanik and Andreas Bierwirth said recently the plan was to reduce this figure to around 6,000 by the end of this year.