New airline routes launched (10 – 16 April 2012)
Air France’s Paris CDG to Wuhan
- Air France added its fourth destination in Mainland China on 11 April when the SkyTeam airline began flying from its Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) hub to Wuhan (WUH) in eastern China, following its services to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Together with sister airline KLM, the airline group thereby serves nine destinations in Greater China. The new route, which provides a much anticipated link for the Paris-based car manufacturer PSA Peugeot Citroën’s joint venture with Dongfeng Motor of Wuhan, will be operated three times weekly with 309-seat 777-200ER aircraft. Alexandre de Juniac, Chairman and CEO of Air France, commented: “Air France was the first European airline to serve mainland China 45 years ago. By operating the first non-stop flights between Wuhan and Europe, the Company intends to strengthen its position as European air transport leader on these routes and contribute to the economic development of this region.” As a result of the new route, the city of Wuhan is holding ‘French Week’ celebrations between 12 and 18 April.
Alaska Airlines’ San Jose to Honolulu
- Alaska Airlines continued to take on Hawaiian Airlines in the San Francisco Bay Area, launching two new routes to the capital of Oahu; Honolulu (HNL) – Hawaiian Airlines’ main hub. Alaska Airlines now operates daily from both San Jose, CA (SJC) and Oakland, CA (OAK) alongside Hawaiian Airlines’ also daily flights on the same two routes. Alaska Airlines already serves three other Hawaiian airports from both Californian airports; Kona, Lihue and Kahului. “The Port of Oakland is extremely grateful to Alaska Airlines for inaugurating service between Oakland and Honolulu today, and for recognizing the opportunity for continued expansion of their Hawaii service here,” said Marily Mora, Port of Oakland’s Assistant Director of Aviation.
The rest of this week’s new routes
- AirTran launched three new routes in the last week; two domestic services from Southwest bases to Branson, MO (BKG) and one international to the sunshine in Mexico’s Cancun (CUN). On 10 April, the airline that now has merged with Southwest, began serving Branson from Houston Hobby, TX (HOU) and the following day from Chicago Midway, IL (MDW). Each of the two routes to the entertainment city is operated daily with the airline’s 117-seat 717s. On 16 April, the airline began operating to Cancun from Denver, CO (DEN); currently its fourth route to the Mexico coastal resort, to which it is planning to add three further routes from San Antonio, Austin and Chicago Midway in the next couple of months. The new route is initially operated daily with 737-700 aircraft, competing with Frontier’s also daily operations and United’s five flights a week; however, AirTran reduced frequencies to four weekly from 8 July and down to two weekly between 13 August and 28 September.
- China Airlines expanded its Japanese network on 16 April out of its Taipei Taoyuan (TPE) hub. The Taiwanese airline now flies twice-weekly to Toyama (TOY) on central Japan’s east coast. The route, which is operated with the airline’s 158-seat 737-800s, is China Airlines’ 11th route to Japan out of Taoyuan.
- China Eastern launched its third route to the South Korean island Jeju (CJU) on 13 April when the SkyTeam airline, which is an alliance partner of Korean Air, complemented its Shanghai Pudong and Hangzhou flights with a twice-weekly service from Ningbo (NGB). The new route is operated with 158-seat A320 aircraft.
- Eastern Airways has taken over a route dropped by Flybe at the end of February. On 16 April, Eastern Airways began operating six times weekly from Southampton (SOU) in southern England to the Belgian capital Brussels (BRU). On weekdays, the route is operated with 29-seat Jetstream 41 aircraft, while the Sunday flights are served with 50-seat Saab 2000s. This is Eastern Airways’ first route to the ‘Capital of Europe’ and its second at Southampton, which it also serves from Aberdeen in Scotland. Southampton Airport’s managing director Dave Lees said: “We’re delighted to welcome Eastern Airways back to this route. It’s a highly requested route by both our business and leisure passengers, who are looking for convenient flights to this major European centre.”
- Etihad expanded its network to Iraq on 15 April when the airline connected its Abu Dhabi (AUH) hub with Basra (BSR) in the south of Iraq. The route is operated four times weekly with 136-seat A320 aircraft. Basra, which is a centre for the petroleum industry, is Etihad’s third destination in Iraq after Baghdad and Erbil that the airline began serving in 2010. Etihad’s CEO James Hogan commented: “Basra is an important industrial and transport hub but currently has limited access to air services. Our new flight will make a significant contribution to improving this situation for the people of the region.”
- Hawaiian Airlines continued its Asian expansion on 16 April with the launch of its third route to Japan. From Honolulu, HI (HNL), the airline now flies daily to Fukuoka (FUK) in the south of Japan using 264-seat 767-300ER aircraft. Although Hawaiian currently faces no competition on the route, Innovata schedule data shows that Delta will be operating irregular, low-frequency services on the same route starting from the end of the month. Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian’s president and CEO, commented: “Fukuoka is a continuation of our strategy of growing into markets from which we expect to see increasing numbers of visitors to Hawaii.” Mike McCartney, President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, added: “Japan is the largest international market to the Hawaiian Islands and we estimate this new route will provide $156 million in visitor spending and $17 million in tax revenue annually.”
- Jetstar extended its route between Darwin in the airline’s home country Australia and Manila (MNL), the capital of the Philippines, to continue to the Japanese capital airport Tokyo Narita (NRT). The new route between the two capital cities is operated four times weekly with the airline’s A320 aircraft. Freed up capacity comes from the airline having dropped its flights between Darwin and Ho Chi Minh City. Competition on the new route between Manila and Narita comes from JAL’s twice-daily as well as Philippine Airlines’, ANA’s and Delta’s each daily flights. Jetstar Group CEO Bruce Buchanan said: “The new link between Darwin and Tokyo will soon join to our Jetstar Japan network, putting low fare travel to Australia within reach for millions more Japanese.”
- Korongo Airlines is a start-up airline in the Democratic Republic of the Congo launched in partnership with Brussels Airlines, as detailed in a separate article this week. On 16 April, the airline commenced operations with a domestic route out of its base in Lubumbashi (FBM), the copper-mining city in the south of the country. The airline now operates from the country’s second-largest city to the largest, the capital Kinshasa (FIH), eight times weekly with a 126-seat 737-300 and 84-seat BAe146 aircraft. Competition comes from Congo Express’ 10, Compagnie Africaine d’Aviation’s seven, flyCongo’s six, and Stellar Airways’ three weekly flights.
- LAN Peru grew its domestic network on 16 April when the airline launched a new route from Tarapoto (TPP) in the north of the country to Iquitos (IQT), the largest city in the country’s rainforest. Flights operate twice-weekly with 144-seat A319s, competing with Star Peru’s daily operations.
- Mandarin Airlines expanded its network to Japan on 14 April when the regional subsidiary of China Airlines added a route to Okinawa (OKA), the island between Taiwan and the main Japanese islands, from Taichung (RMQ) in Taiwan. The route, which complements the parent airline’s twice-daily flights from Taipei, is operated twice-weekly – on Wednesdays and Saturdays – with 104-seat E-190s. The route is a direct response to the open skies agreement signed between Japan and Taiwan at the end of last year.
- Norwegian launched low-frequency operations between the Swedish capital airport Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) and Vaasa (VAA) on Finland’s west coast on 13 April. The 430-kilometre route is operated twice-weekly with 737-800s. Competition comes from Blue1’s 17 flights a week. This is the fast-growing pan-Nordic low-cost airline’s first route to Vaasa.
- OLT Express, the Polish regional carrier, continued its dramatic domestic expansion that was announced earlier this year. On 16 April, the airline launched two routes to Krakow (KRK); from Poznan (POZ) and Wroclaw (WRO). Each route is operated 17 times weekly with ATR72 aircraft. The Poznan service competes with eurolot’s 11 weekly flights on the same route. However, the Wroclaw service of merely 235 kilometres, which was initially announced as operating continuously, will be dropped by OLT Express already on 6 May, thereby operating less than a month in the end.
- Porter Airlines, the airline analysed this week, expanded its network to the United States out of its Toronto City (YTZ) base. As of 16 April, the airline operates its Q400s 18 times weekly to Washington Dulles, DC (IAD). Indirect competition at Toronto Pearson comes from United’s 39 weekly flights as well as Air Canada’s 35 flights a week between Toronto Pearson and Washington National. Jack Potter, President and CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said: “Toronto is one of the largest international markets for the Washington region so we are very pleased to welcome Porter Airlines and this new Toronto connection to the nation’s capital just in time for the busy international travel season.”
- Skyways, the Swedish regional carrier, takes on Flybe Nordic on the route between the Swedish capital’s city airport Stockholm Bromma (BMA) and the airport of neighbouring Denmark’s capital Copenhagen (CPH). Flights operate 15 times weekly with 48-seat ERJ145s, competing with Flybe Nordic’s 18 flights a week. Indirect competition at Stockholm Arlanda also comes from SAS’ 87 and Norwegian’s 29 flights a week.
- Transavia.com, Air France-KLM’s low-cost subsidiary, launched two leisure routes to the eastern Mediterranean out of Paris Orly (ORY) in the last week. On 11 April, the airline connected the French capital airport with Larnaca (LCA) in Cyprus and on 15 April, flights were launched to Bodrum (BJV) in Turkey. Each of the two routes is operated once weekly with 737-800 aircraft. Indirect competition on the Cypriot route comes from Cyprus Airways’ six weekly flights to Paris CDG.
- Virgin America continued its launch of flights to Philadelphia (PHL), the airport analysed last week. As reported in the last issue of anna.aero, flights from Los Angeles have already launched, and on 10 April, the airline began operating twice-daily from San Francisco, CA (SFO) with its A320 aircraft. Competition comes from US Airways’ and United’s each 27 flights a week.