Route of the Week: Vietnam Airlines’ Hanoi and
Ho Chi Minh City to London Gatwick
A spectacular and colourful celebration was put on at London Gatwick’s new North Terminal forecourt when Vietnam Airlines launched its first routes to the UK. After speeches by the airline’s president and CEO Dr Pham Ngoc Minh and Gatwick Airport’s CEO Stewart Wingate, the dignitaries took turns at cutting parts of the ribbon. Dr Minh, who got the honour of cutting the final part, is here seen with Jeremy Hotchkiss, head, UK Department for Transport; Dinh La Thang, Vietnam’s Minister of Transport; Pham Viet Thanh, chairman of Vietnam Airlines; and Wingate.
Cake of the Week: Wizz Air’s Riga to Eindhoven
Riga Airport celebrated the new Wizz Air route to Eindhoven, the home city of the electronics company Philips that once started as a light bulb manufacturer, with a light bulb cake. Displaying the creation were Aldis Murnieks, Riga Airport board member; and John Stephenson, EVP Wizz Air.
- Wizz Air launched a new route to Riga (RIX) on 9 December. The low-cost airline now flies to the Latvian capital from Eindhoven (EIN) in the Netherlands. Notably, neither airport is a base for the airline. Flights operate twice-weekly, on Mondays and Fridays, with the airline’s 180-seat A320s. This makes Riga the third airport in the Baltic countries to be connected with the Dutch airport after Vilnius and Kaunas in Lithuania. The new route is Wizz Air’s 11th in Eindhoven and third in Riga, after London Luton and Sandefjord near Oslo.
The rest of this week’s new routes
- Azul, the airline analysed this week, launched two new domestic routes on 8 December. The Brazilian low-cost carrier now serves Caldas Novas (CLV), the city in central Brazil famous for its hot springs. The last time Caldas Novas had scheduled traffic was in 2003 when Varig operated a limited number of flights. Azul now flies twice-weekly from Viracopos (VCP) near São Paulo and continues from Caldas Novas with the same frequency to Goiania (GYN), the state capital 140 kilometres away. The airline operates 106-seat E-190 aircraft on these routes.
The Air Jamaica branded aircraft was welcomed to Miami with a fire-truck salute. Caribbean Airlines’ flights from Kingston to Miami now operate four times a week. (Photos: Miami-Dade Aviation Department)
- Caribbean Airlines, now merged with Air Jamaica, relaunched a route between Jamaica and the US on 9 December under the Air Jamaica brand. Air Jamaica used to operate between Kingston (KIN) and Miami, FL (MIA) for decades until the route was dropped in 2009, but Caribbean Airlines now again operates the route four times weekly – on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays – with 154-seat 737-800s, but frequencies will increase to daily in February. Competition comes from American Airlines’ thrice-daily service. Caribbean Airlines’ acting CEO Robert Corbie commented: “The resumption of direct service to Miami by our Air Jamaica brand solidifies our commitment to offering our customers better connectivity to North America, providing more options to and from Florida from Jamaica. As the only regional carrier to offer non-stop services from Jamaica to three of Florida’s major cities, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and now Miami, we are a fundamental resource in Caribbean aviation.”
- Copa Airlines launched its second route to Jamaica on 11 December when the airline that next year is due to join Star Alliance began flying between Panama City (PTY) and Montego Bay (MBJ), complementing its Kingston services. Flights operate twice a week with 94-seat E-190 aircraft.
EuroLOT now serves Poprad-Tatry in Slovakia from both Warsaw and Gdansk. Each route operates twice a week with ATR42 aircraft.
- EuroLOT has launched two new routes to Poprad-Tatry (TAT), serving the both Slovakian and Polish ski resorts in the Tatra Mountains. Flights began on 8 December, with each route being operated twice-weekly from Warsaw (WAW) and Gdansk (GDN) with 46-seat ATR42 aircraft. Poprad-Tatry’s only previous scheduled service to Poland was to Warsaw on DanubeWings last year.
Cutting the ribbon at the joint celebration for four new routes to Mainland China on EVA Air and its subsidiary UNI Air to Harbin, Xian, Shenyang, Huangshan were EVA Air VP Lin Bao-Shui; Taiwan Visitors Association President Jhou Chin-Hsiung; Taiwan Civil Aeronautics Administration Deputy Director General Lee Wan-Li; Taoyuan Airport Managing Director Lin Peng-Liang; and UNI Air President Su Hong-Yi.
- EVA Air launched a new route across the Taiwan Strait on 11 December. From its hub at Taipei Taoyuan (TPE), the airline now flies three times a week to Harbin (HRB) in Northeast Mainland China, not far from the Russian border. The 2,325-kilometre route is operated with 252-seat A330-200 aircraft. China Southern competes on the route with two weekly flights.
- Norwegian launched its first route to Germany out of its Copenhagen (CPH) base on 8 December. The pan-Nordic low-cost carrier had planned to serve Frankfurt, but dropped the route after lower sales than expected. Instead, the airline now has chosen to fly four times weekly between the Danish and German capitals, serving Berlin Schönefeld (SXF) with its 737-800s. This is Norwegian’s fifth route to the Berlin airport after routes from Oslo, Stockholm, Bergen and Stavanger. Direct competition comes from easyJet’s 13 flights a week, and at Tegel (until the opening of Berlin Brandenburg Airport), SAS and airberlin indirectly compete with 20 and 12 weekly flights respectively.
Other celebrations this week
At the Aviation Sales & Marketing Department at Kansai International Airport in Osaka, the team was delighted to win last week’s Route of the Week. Posing with the sign from the launch event were Akiko Tonoshita, Midori Kitagawa, Kanako Kinoshita, Takahiro Deo, Masato Kubota and Takashi Yoshimura, while Takahiro Ozeki, Acting General Manager, is seated by the airline’s aircraft model.
Hamburg Airport celebrated its 13-millionth passenger this year – the very year the airport celebrates its 100th anniversary. Celebrating with a giant cake were Oliver Wagner, Lufthansa’s SVP Direct Services; the lucky passenger Norbert Basler, who flew on Lufthansa; Dietrich von Albedyll, CEO Hamburg Marketing and Hamburg Tourism; and Michael Eggenschwiler, CEO Hamburg Airport. (Photo: Michael Penner, Hamburg Airport)
At Carcasonne Airport, there were two Ryanair related celebrations going on at the same time. First, the airline celebrated its 50-millionth passenger in France since the airline started serving the country market in 1997, initially with the route Dublin-Paris Beauvais. The lucky passengers Mireille and Pierre-Marie Peyric (who won a holiday to Porto with Ryanair flights three nights’ accommodation at Tryp Porto Expo) are here seen posing for the camera with Jonathan Brisy, Ryanair’s Sales and Marketing Executive France & Belgium.
Gwenvael Ronsin-Hardy, Head of Marketing & Development at Carcassonne, Nimes and Perpignan Airports, and Jonathan Brisy, Ryanair’s Sales and Marketing Executive France & Belgium, shook hands to celebrate the announcement of the new route to Carcassonne in southern France from Billund in Denmark. A cake in shape of the Danish flag was also baked to celebrate the new service, which is due to launch in March.