New routes launched during the last week (Saturday 9 January – Friday 15 January):
Route of the Week: Fly540’s Nairobi to Bujumbura
Fly 540’s first commercial flight between Nairobi and Bujumbura was marked with a celebratory luncheon, hosted by the Kenyan ambassador to Burundi, Benjamin Mweri. Burundi’s Minister for Transport, Philippe Njoni, was invited as the chief guest to toast the launch of the new route. (Thanks to Naomi Cidi and Fred Khouno for kindly providing these photos)
The Kenyan low-cost carrier Fly540 has launched thrice-weekly services between its Nairobi (NBO) base and Bujumbura (BJM), the capital of Burundi. The service will be operated with the airline’s CRJ-100, the only jet aircraft in the fleet, competing with Kenya Airways. The airline, with its domestic network and routes to Uganda and Tanzania, is the second largest airline at Nairobi after national carrier Kenya Airways.
Cake of the Week: jetBlue’s Boston to Montego Bay
John Woolcock from Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) cuts the ribbon for the first passengers to board the plane from Boston to Montego Bay. Rosemarie Johnson, regional director JTB, and JetBlue marketing’s JJ Storer exchange gifts before the Jamaican food feast, which anna.aero notes contains something vaguely resembling cake.
jetBlue is taking on US Airways by launching a weekly service between Boston (BOS) and Montego Bay (MBJ), the airline’s sixth Caribbean destination from the airport. In May, the previously operated seasonal flights resume, totalling two weekly jetBlue flights between the airports until September. Competitor US Airways flies the route twice weekly year-round. Jamaica’s tourism director John Lynch points out: “With this new nonstop flight Bostonians will have more convenient options to fly to Jamaica, and at just four hours away it provides a perfect winter rescue.”
Air China has started a four times weekly A320 service from Wuhan (WUH) to Macau (MFM). This is the first air link between the two airports and, most notably, the airline’s first service to the former Portuguese gambling capital of the east, which recently celebrated 10 years as a Special Administrative Region of China.
Aéroport Clermont-Ferrand announces the route swap this week.
Not new routes in the traditional sense, but Air France Régional has this week handed over four routes to Chalair, which will fly the routes out of Clermont-Ferrand (CFE) with its 19-seater Beechcraft 1900s. Lille (LIL), Marseille (MRS), Strasbourg (SXB) and Toulouse (TLS) will all be served 10 times weekly each (twice-daily, Monday to Friday). Due to the small aircraft size, this results in an approximate halving of capacity on these routes.
Masidi Manjun, tourism minister for the Malaysian state of Sabah, Malaysian transport minister Sri Ong Tee Keat and AirAsia’s chairman Aziz Bakar welcomed over 120 passengers on the first flight from Taipei to Kota Kinabalu, one of Malaysia’s top tourist destinations.
AirAsia has launched services from Kota Kinabalu (BKI) in Malaysian Borneo to Taipei (TPE) in time for the Chinese New Year. The daily A320 service now complements the airline group’s existing routes to the Taiwanese capital from Kuala Lumpur (on AirAsia X) and Bangkok (Thai AirAsia), which both started in the last nine months and Kathleen Tan, AirAsia group’s regional head of commercial commented that the routes have had a great response. She added: “The travelling trend to places such as Taipei is increasing and with growing potential household income in East Malaysia, we believe there will also be strong potential demand from East Malaysian travellers to fly directly to the city.”
airBaltic has continued its launches from Vilnius (VNO) with the commencement of thrice-weekly 737-500 services to Rome Fiumicino (FCO). This is one of the routes that the airline suspended in October 2008, as it downscaled its Vilnius hub. It was also operated by FlyLal until its bankruptcy in January last year, but Rome has been left unserved from Vilnius since.
AirTran’s new route will see Aruba served from Orlando on a weekly basis. The first flight was marked with a water-cannon salute upon arrival on the southern Caribbean island.
AirTran has begun flying from its Orlando (MCO) hub to Aruba (AUA) using 737-700s. Like AirTran’s Aruba service from Atlanta, which was launched in December, the flights operate once weekly, on Saturdays. The autonomous Dutch island in the Caribbean is so popular as a holiday destination for US tourists that the island airport has more than half of its seat capacity on routes to and from the United States. Kevin Healy, AirTran’s SVP marketing and planning commented: “Dipping your toes in Caribbean sand has never been easier and we’ll get you there from Orlando just in time for the Grand Parade of Carnival.”
Years of work have paid off: ASKY is in the sky and the airline’s chairman Gervais Koffi Djondo has reason to feel proud.
The Togolese start-up ASKY Airlines, part-owned by Ethiopian Airlines, has commenced operations this week from its Lomé (LFW) base with two former Sterling 737-700s registered in Ethiopia. The airline is intended to replace the West African transnational carrier Air Afrique, which ceased operating in 2002. The destinations now launched are Ouagadougou (OUA), Dakar (DKR), Abidjan (ABJ), Bamako (BKO), Banjul (BJL), Cotonou (COO), Brazzaville (BZV), Libreville (LBV), Kinshasa (FIH), Lagos (LOS) and Accra (ACC).
Brussels Airlines, by next year to be fully owned by Lufthansa, has switched its London Gatwick operations to London Heathrow (LHR). The move takes place as the Lufthansa-owned sister airline bmi suspends its London Heathrow-Brussels operations. Brussels Airlines will serve London Heathrow, where it will have connectivity with its fellow Star Alliance members, with 25 weekly frequencies from its Brussels (BRU) hub. This is an increase from the previous 13 weekly frequencies to London Gatwick, however, bmi operated 37 flights a week before suspending the route.
Frontier Airlines has launched a seasonal, four times weekly service between Orlando (MCO) and Oklahoma City (OKC) on 100-seater E-190s. From 16th February, there will be an additional, fifth weekly frequency. The airline claims that the strong demand on the services between Oklahoma City and its Denver hub made it take a closer look at Oklahoma City. Airport director Mark Kranenburg hopes that the demand will again prove so strong that the route will be extended to be operated year-round.
Midwest Airlines has launched two seasonal Florida routes from Omaha (OMA), which is not ordinarily a base for the airline. Nebraskans will now be able to fly on the airline’s E-190s to Orlando (MCO) five times a week and Tampa Bay (TPA) twice weekly until 15th April. No other airline currently flies to Florida from Omaha. Greg Aretakis, VP revenue production commented: “Our Omaha customers have made Florida a top destination and have long requested nonstop service during the winter season”.
The arrival of the first flight from Brussels Charleroi was welcomed to Bari in a way that northern European airports currently only can dream of, being covered in snow and ice. This is the first of ten routes scheduled to be launched in the near future from Ryanair’s latest base.
Ryanair has this week set up a base at Bari (BRI), as covered in-depth in this week’s airline story. Brussels Charleroi (CRL), Genoa (GOA) and Paris Beauvais (BVA) are served three or four times weekly each, while Venice Treviso (TSF) gets six weekly frequencies and Turin (TRN), which is operated in direct competition with Alitalia, is served daily. Ryanair’s COO Michael Cawley predicted that “Ryanair’s Bari base will deliver 1.2million passengers per annum and sustain 1,200 local jobs”.
The Lithuanian media was thrilled: SAS’ return to Vilnius after the partnership with airBaltic has ended called for aircraft pictures in all kinds of angles. An entire 28 journalists attended the event.
“It’s good to be back in Vilnius”: Click to watch Lithuanian online TV channel Delfi’s visual report from the event.
SAS Scandinavian Airlines, which no longer is a shareholder of airBaltic, has started a twice-daily 88-seater CRJ900 service from its Copenhagen (CPH) hub to Vilnius (VNO) in competition with its former partner’s also twice-daily flights. SAS has a long tradition in the area, having been the first foreign airline to serve Vilnius regularly when Copenhagen services launched in 1992. SAS’ Lithuanian representative Rūta Jucienė commented: “Almost 70 per cent of Lithuanian passengers who choose Copenhagen as an intermediary stop, travel to London, Dublin, Munich, Brussels and other European directions, also, we observe an increasing interest in long-haul directions. Among the most popular routes there are New York, Peking, and Bangkok”.
The first passengers on Southwest’s service from St Louis to Boston board the aircraft. Southwest will provide twice the frequency of the only non-stop competitor American Airlines on this route.
Southwest taking off from the characteristic Denver airport to three new destinations this week, all which are in competition with United Airlines.
Southwest Airlines has launched services from two of its focus cities this week. Denver (DEN) sees the addition of twice-daily services to Boston (BOS), operated in competition with JetBlue’s daily flights and United’s 34 weekly operations, daily flights to Reno (RNO) against United’s 20 flights a week as well as daily flights to Spokane (GEG), with competition provided by Frontier’s twice-daily and United’s 20 weekly operations. Southwest’s CEO Gary Kelly commented: “Denver continues to respond exceptionally well to our growth and service in the Mile High City, and as a result, we’ll continue to add flights. Our unprecedented growth in Denver has been a result of the unprecedented response we’ve seen in the market.” St Louis (STL) is the second focus city to have had Southwest services start, as reported in this week’s airport analysis. The airport has also seen the launch of twice-daily flights to Boston in competition with American Airlines’ daily service. Furthermore, a twice-daily service has been launched to Minneapolis/St Paul (MSP), competing with both Delta’s 38 weekly flights and American Airlines’ 35 flights a week. St Louis’ airport director Richard Hrabko commented: “It’s quite the sign in these times to be among the first added to these new destinations. It shows that St. Louis is still a strong market.”
Vietnam Airlines has taken over the Hanoi-Osaka Kansai route from JAL, which stays on the route through code-sharing. Shinichi Fukushima, CEO of Kansai Airport, helped to cut the ribbon for the inaugural flight while the captain received a gift from the Japanese ground staff. (Thank you to Tetsuya Kawabata for his help in providing the photos)
Vietnam Airlines has taken over the route between Hanoi (HAN) and Osaka Kansai (KIX) from troubled JAL, which has pulled out of the route as part of its restructuring. The five times weekly A321 route was launched instantly after JAL’s last of its daily flights, providing continuity on the route. Vietnam Airlines already serves Osaka Kansai daily from Ho Chi Minh City using A330s.
WestJet has launched two new routes during the week. Moncton (YQM) in New Brunswick now has a weekly link to Cancun (CUN), while the soon-to-be Olympic city of Vancouver (YVR) has received a four-times weekly service to Los Angeles (LAX). The latter route is already highly competitive, being served by Air Canada (28 times weekly), Alaska Airlines (27 times weekly) and United Airlines (21 times weekly).