Three flights each morning between Warsaw and Gdańsk and three back again; in the evening too; flights from Warsaw to Szczecin, Wrocław and Rzeszów; direct flights from Kraków and from Katowice to Gdańsk, Łódź and Bydgoszcz also on the map; plans for flights to European destinations including several in the UK (a much-desired Warsaw-Edinburgh connection was advertised). Wow! These guys had plans.
To me, this was a built-to-flip business model - get the finance to launch, initiate the service, fill seats well in advance - then quickly sell the business as a going concern, there'd be debt, yes, but long-term prospects of an airline that could establish a secure niche for itself in face of laggardly competition from state-owned LOT. Get the customers, raise prices, cut costs - and bingo, a new competitor for WizzAir, RyanAir or EasyJet.
The strangest thing about OLT Express was the company that owned it - Amber Gold, a curious institution (without a Wikipedia page - usually a bad sign) offering curiously high interest rates on 'investing in gold'. Amber Gold's billboards were almost as common a feature on the streets of Polish cities as OLT Express's. You can read more on the Politics, Economy, Society blog; I concur with Student SGH's analysis that the current spate of big-name bankruptcies presage a sea-change in Poland's economic fortunes.
And odd sentiment, but late-June, early-July 2012 might just have been a turning point; after a dazzling summer when everything was starting to come right, things might start to unravel. I sincerely hope I'm wrong.
As it is, OLT Express may well yet attract buyers willing to pick up the assets at fire-sale prices. If not, it will be the third major failure of a Polish attempt to launch a low-cost airline after Air Polonia and CentralWings). In the meanwhile, LOT has unsurprisingly lifted the prices of its own internal flights. It was an all-too brief dream - quick and cheap travel around Poland.
UPDATE - Tuesday 31 July - at lunch we saw OLT Express billboards on a building on ul. Krucza. By the time I left the office, they'd gone. How long will the Amber Gold billboard remain on Al. Jerozolimskie?
This time last year:
Poland's Baltic coast as a holiday destination
This time three years ago:
The Warsaw they fought and died for?
This time five years ago:
Floods, rainbows and hope