Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Austrian Carriers

FlyNiki: A Driver’s Love Affair with Flying

Niki Lauda, a much-loved Austrian Formula One driver, started an airline named Lauda Air in 1979. After a sale to Austrian Airlines in 2000, Lauda was ousted from the board. Feeling a little aggrieved at his treatment, Lauda set Up a competing airline in 2003 named FlyNiki. The airline quickly formed an alliance with Air Berlin. This agreement allowed FlyNiki to expand rapidly and cover numerous destinations within Austria and without.

FlyNiki's operations cover Vienna, Salzburg, Linz, and Graz. Outside of Austria, it flies to numerous destinations in Europe, and it also flies to Egypt. Oddly enough, FlyNiki is a low-cost airline that offers many of the small luxuries that major airlines routinely offer. This includes free refreshments, and baggage is included in the price. Finally, Niki Lauda has a commercial pilot's license, and he occasionally flies his company's aircraft.

Austrian Airlines: Austria's National Carrier

Austrian Airlines is not actually one carrier, it's three: Austrian Airlines, Lauda Air, and Tyrolean Airways. Between them, they cover virtually all the major destinations in Europe and fly to several international destinations as well. If you're traveling from the States, you might catch a flight from Washington or New York direct to Vienna. Alternatively, if you are traveling from Japan, you might travel from Tokyo. Wherever you are going, you can usually get there via an Austrian Airlines flight.

Lauda Air is primarily a charter airline. It typically flies to Mediterranean destinations, although it also serves the UK from Innsbruck airport. Indeed, Innsbruck airport has the biggest variety of flights traveling to the UK, particularly during the skiing season. Tyrolean Airways generally serves European destinations that Austrian Airlines does not.

In general, FlyNiki is frequently cheaper than Austrian Airlines. However, there is a wealth of airline operators that fly to Austria, and you can usually get some very good deals. If you are traveling from the United Kingdom, EasyJet and Ryanair both offer good value deals. From the United States, however, the only direct flights to Austria are with Austrian Airlines and its partners, such as United Airlines. Indirect flights are available, such as traveling by London Heathrow or Berlin. These are often slightly more expensive, although if no direct flights are available, they can be a good option.

While many airline operators offer a hotel booking service, it is worth checking an independent website for hotel prices. Airlines often add a large markup to the actual price and only have a limited selection, so family-run hotels frequently go unnoticed.

Austria is a very well-connected country, and getting there from a host of destinations is rather easy. A range of airline suits budgets both big and small, and with four airports distributed around the country, you'll end up at your hotel in no time.