Route of the Week: Cebu Pacific’s Manila to Hanoi
The elaborate ribbon for Cebu Pacific’s new route between the capitals of the Philippines and Vietnam was cut by Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, sister of the Philippines’ president Benigno Aquino III; the airline’s CEO Lance Gokongwei; Viel Aquino-Dee, presidential sister; Nguyen Vu Tu, Vietnam’s Ambassador to the Philippines; the president’s sister Pinky Aquino-Abellada; and Intramuros Administration Chief Administrator Jose Capistrano Jr. The three sisters then travelled on the first flight to Hanoi where the three gentlemen cut another ribbon together with Jerril Santos (left), Philippine Ambassador to Vietnam.
- Cebu Pacific launched its second route to Vietnam on 17 March when the Philippine low-cost airline began operating twice-weekly services between the country capitals Manila (MNL) and Hanoi (HAN). The airline, which already serves Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, is the only operator on the route. Cebu Pacific previously served Hanoi in 2008, but the Vietnamese capital has at no other point in time been connected with the Philippines until now.
Sunwing’s St John’s to Montego Bay
Sunwing Airlines’ charter route from St John’s (YYT) in Newfoundland, Canada to Montego Bay (MBJ) in Jamaica was celebrated with this fully edible cake, which won us over head over heels. The cake was cut by Louise Paquette, Jamaica Tourist Board’s business development manager Quebec and Atlantic Canada, and Nicole Scaplen-Foote, St. John’s International Airport Authority’s marketing specialist; much to the delight of twin sisters MacKenzie and Madison Strowbridge.
The rest of this week’s new routes
- Air Busan, the Asiana subsidiary, launched daily flights connecting its Busan (PUS) base with Qingdao (TAO) in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong. The South Korean carrier uses its 737-400s on the 785-kilometre route, which was launched on 19 March. Korean Air is the only direct competitor on the route, providing six weekly frequencies.
The cake celebrating Bahrain Air’s fourth Indian route was cut by the airline’s CEO Richard Nuttall and Managing Director Ibrahim Abdulla Al Hamer. Assisted by senior officials and managers from Civil Aviation Affairs (CAA), Bahrain Airport Company (BAC), Bahrain Airport Services (BAS) and Bahrain Air, the gentlemen also cut the ribbon to open the new Trivandrum service.
- Bahrain Air expanded its Indian network on 15 March when the airline launched operations from its Bahrain (BAH) base to Thiruvananthapuram (TRV), also known as Trivandrum, in southernmost India. This is the airline’s fourth destination in India after Mumbai, Kochi and Kozhikode. Flights on the new route initially operate four times weekly, but frequencies are planned to increase to daily by the summer. Competition on the route comes from Air India Express’ weekly operation. The airline’s Managing Director Ibrahim Al Hamer commented: “The Indian Sub Continent remains a key focus area for Bahrain Air and Kerala continues to be a focal destination for us. Currently there are about 350,000 Keralites in Bahrain and another 400,000 in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. This new route to Trivandrum, once again reiterates our commitment to improve our services and meet the needs of our customers within the region. We are positive for the future and traffic rights permitting we will continue to increase flights to India as we take more aircraft in the future.”
- On 15 March, Knoxville, TN (TYS) became the 7th nonstop destination offered by Frontier from Orlando, FL (MCO). The Denver-headquartered airline serves the market with a thrice-weekly frequency using its 138-seat A319s. Competition on the route comes from AirTran, which provides four weekly frequencies. Until now, Frontier served Knoxville solely from its Denver base.
- IndiGo, which currently battles Jet Airways to become India’s leading airline and was analysed in our last week’s airline focus, has further expanded its domestic network this week, as it launched services from Mumbai (BOM) to Srinagar (SXR) in the north-eastern province of Kashmir. The new route, which was inaugurated on 18 March, is offered with a daily frequency, and operated with the airline’s fleet of A320s. There is no direct competition, although Kingfisher and Jet Airways’ subsidiary JetLite offer seven and one weekly connections respectively via Delhi, while another Indian low-fare airline, GoAir, serves the market via Jammu on a twice weekly basis.
- On 17 March, Delhi (DEL) became the third Indian city after Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram to gain nonstop Jet Airways services to Damman (DMM). The eastern Saudi Arabian destination is offered with four weekly frequencies using 737-800s in two-class configuration. The airline faces competition from both Air India and Saudi Arabian, which already serve the market with two and three weekly direct flights respectively. Sudheer Raghavan, Jet Airways’ CCO, said: “The airline has already established itself as a prominent brand in the highly competitive Indo-Gulf sector; the new service will provide convenient connections to neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bangladesh as well as to important stations in India.”
- On 17 March, Kyrgyzstan Air expanded its presence in Tajikistan, adding a new non-stop service from its base in Bishkek (FRU) to the neighbouring country’s second-largest city, Khudzhand (LBD). Previously, the airline served only the Tajik capital Dushanbe. 737-500 equipment will be deployed on the 500-kilometre route, which is offered on a twice weekly basis and offers connecting opportunities for flights to a range of destinations, including Moscow and Ürümqi. No other airline has served the route before.
- Benefiting from the open skies agreement between Uruguay and Chile, Pluna of Uruguay launched domestic Chilean services on 15 March. The new route involves the capital Santiago de Chile (SCL) and the coastal city of Concepción (CCP), and will be served six times a week with 90-seat CRJ900s. Competition on the route comes from Lan Chile and Sky Airline, which offer 60 and 18 weekly services respectively; both airlines employ narrowbody aircraft. Roberto de Oliveira Luiz, Pluna’s Manager Sales & Alliances, commented: “Professional approach by Chilean authorities with regard to safeguarding equal market conditions and impeding predatory practices has greatly influenced our decision to make use of cabotage rights we enjoy in the country.”
Passengers on Turkish Airlines’ first flight to Novosibirsk in Siberia were welcomed with matryoshka dolls and a traditional Russian bread and salt ceremony. Tolmachevo Airport is the Star Alliance carrier’s eighth Russian destination from its Istanbul Atatürk hub.
- Turkish Airlines expanded its Russian network on 14 March when the Star Alliance member launched its eighth route out of its Istanbul Atatürk (IST) hub to the country. Turkish Airlines now flies three times weekly with 167-seat 737-800s to Novosibirsk (OVB), the Siberian airport analysed this week. Prior to this launch, the airline already served Moscow (Sheremetyevo, about to move to Vnukovo), St Petersburg, Ufa, Yekaterinburg, Sochi, Rostov and Kazan. Flights on the new 4,200-kilometre route operate overnight, departing Istanbul on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, and returning from Novosibirsk the following morning.
In Cancun, vivaaerobus’ new route to Tuxtla Guiterrez was welcomed with a fire-truck salute. The route has been left unserved since 2008, but is now connected twice-weekly by the low-cost airline.
- On 15 March, just three days after the launch of its Villahermosa service, vivaaerobus started its fifth route from Cancún (CUN), connecting the popular beach destination with Tuxtla Guiterrez (TGZ). The airline, which was analysed by anna.aero last week, now offers twice-weekly frequencies from Cancún to the capital city of Chiapas in southern Mexico. The 800-kilometre route was last operated by Aeromar, which operated it between 2006 and 2008; Mexicana was the only other airline to ever serve the market, offering services on and off between 1997 and 2005.