A new low cost airline with some interesting ideas and a convenient homebase.
Behold, oh reader: wether you're a krautnoder, a britnoder, French, Finnish or Austrian: there's a new airline serving an airport near you:
V Bird is the brainchild of two chaps called Roberto Stinga and Jason Bitter who, with the money of some American and European investors, were able to put their ideas of convenient and cheap flying into action.
Their not particular daring concept is to give their passengers more comfort but less hassle, with prices matching Europe's current low cost airlines. Their Airbus A320 fleet is leased from ILFC and technical maintenance is done by renowned German charter flyer LTU. The seats are broader and further apart compared to Ryanair and Easyjet (32 inches compared to 28 inches) and they have a pretty easy bonus program: fly 9 times vbird and get the 10th flight for free.
Their hub is the small and brand new regional Niederrhein Airport, which has short check in waits and is quite conveniently located for passengers from Duesseldorf, Essen, Arnheim, Venlo, Krefeld, Nijmegen, Eindhoven, Aachen, Maastricht and Duisburg.
The pricing structure is simple and maximum prices are far below Ryanair's and Easyjet's: i.e. Niederrhein - Munich min . 29 Euro, Max 99 Euro.
With the start of the winter schedule on 27.10.03 they fly daily to Munich, Helsinki, Vienna, Nice and Berlin. This means that Ryanair passengers flying from Stansted now have a cheap connecting flight to these cities.
This is of course quite a risky venture: the low cost market is starting to saturate, the established players like Ryanair, Easyjet are still expanding their empires and have started to gobble up their competitors: Buzz went kicking and screaming to Ryanair, while ex BA project Go was swallowed by Easyjet, so it is going to be interesting to see wether passengers will accept a hub wihich is in the middle of the pampa.
Let's wish them luck, because more competition means low airfares, and I for one certainly need them.
January 2004: Vbird have expanded their destinations, now flying to Copenhagen, Manchester, Rome, Palma de Mallorca. I've just flown with them for the first time to Helsinki, and it was a very pleasant experience: Plenty of legroom, good catering, good inflight entertainment, funny Pilots.
8.10.04: Vbird is no more. The company has announced bankruptcy and all planes have been picked up by the lease holder 5 hours after the announcement.