New airline routes launched (6 – 12 December 2011)
Route of the Week: Vietnam Airlines’ Hanoi and
Ho Chi Minh City to London Gatwick
- Vietnam Airlines for the first time connected Vietnam with the UK when it launched two routes to London Gatwick (LGW) from its both hubs last week. On 8 December, flights were launched from the northern capital Hanoi (HAN) and the following day, flights began from Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) in the south. Each of the two routes is operated twice-weekly with 308-seat 777-200ER aircraft. For full details about the new route, see anna.aero’s separate first-hand report from the Gatwick celebrations and London press conference.
Cake of the Week: Wizz Air’s Riga to Eindhoven
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.