New airline routes launched (24 – 30 July 2012)
ANA’s Tokyo Narita to Seattle
- Passenger wishing to travel between Tokyo Narita (NRT) and Seattle-Tacoma, WA (SEA) now have a choice of three carriers. On 25 July, ANA joined its Star Alliance partner United, as well as Delta in serving the market with daily flights. The route will initially be served by 247-seat 777-300ER aircraft but ANA expects to transition to the 787 later this year. Seattle-Tacoma airport was the 16th busiest airport in the US last year with passenger numbers growing 4.0% to 32.8 million. The airport has non-stop services to five destinations in Asia; Beijing (China), Osaka Kansai (Japan), Seoul Incheon (South Korea), Taipei (Taiwan) and Tokyo Narita (Japan).
DanubeWings’ Dole-Jura to Cambridge
- On Friday 27 July, the Slovakian regional carrier DanubeWings launched scheduled flights between Dole-Jura (DLE) in eastern France and the famous university city Cambridge (CBG) in the UK using an ATR 72. Flights operate twice-weekly on Mondays and Fridays. Terry Holloway, Deputy Chairman of Cambridge Airport said: “We were delighted to welcome DanubeWings to Cambridge Airport, connecting Cambridge with Dole-Jura in the Franche-Comté Region of France with two scheduled flights each week. This is also an exciting development with one of Europe’s rapidly expanding airline companies and part of our wider plan to bring a number of exciting international services to Cambridge. We are committed to delivering sustained growth at the airport and contributing to Cambridge’s dynamic economic expansion, which is already far exceeding that of most areas of the UK.” In recent years, Dole-Jura Airport has handled less than 5,000 passengers per annum, but back in April, Ryanair started twice-weekly services to Porto from the airport, while DanubeWings launched flights to Girona and Nice in May, and Bastia in June.
The rest of this week's new routes
- The French carrier Aigle Azur, which mostly is known for its North African network, entered the Russian market on 27 July. The airline now operates four-times weekly flights on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays between Paris Orly (ORY) and Moscow Vnukovo (VKO) using A319s. The airline will also codeshare on the new service on the same route starting this week operated by Transaero. Both carriers recently became designated carriers on the route as part of the on-going process of liberalising air travel between France and Russia. Until now, only the SkyTeam members Air France and Aeroflot linked the two capital cities, each operating five daily flights.
- On Wednesday 25 July, the Armenian flag-carrier Armavia began operating weekly flights between Yerevan (EVN) and Birmingham (BHX) in the UK using an A320. The airline’s website recommends The Barber Institute, Cadbury World and the Botanical Gardens as things worth seeing in Birmingham. Armavia appears to have operated the route before on an irregular basis, between September 2010 and April 2011. The airline also launched weekly flights last week from Yerevan to Amritsar (ATQ) in India using a 737. As a result, the airline is now offering connecting flights from Birmingham to Amritsar (a holy Sikh city) via Yerevan, targeting the considerable VFR potential, as Birmingham has a substantial South Asian ethnic population.
- Following in the footsteps of hlx/TUIfly (March 2006 to October 2009) and airberlin (May 2010 to September 2011), Lufthansa’s in-house LCC germanwings has now started non-stop flights between Stuttgart (STR) and Rijeka (RJK) in Croatia. From 30 July until 6 September, the carrier will operate two weekly flights using an A319. germanwings started serving Rijeka for the first time earlier this year from Cologne/Bonn (27 March) and Berlin Schönefeld (20 June). Despite being the third largest city in Croatia (after Zagreb and Split), the city’s airport handled less than 100,000 passengers in both 2010 and 2011.
- On 25 July, Qatar Airways introduced its first flight to Kilimanjaro (JRO) in Tanzania. The new A320 service from Doha (DOH) operates daily via Dar es Salaam (DAR), the Tanzanian capital. Kilimanjaro thus becomes the airline’s 18th destination in Africa and 118th in all. Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker said: “Kilimanjaro signifies the importance Qatar Airways places in looking at airports around the world where capacity is limited, yet passenger demand is strong. We are pleased to be reinforcing our presence in Africa with the addition of scheduled flights to Tanzania’s tourism centre of Kilimanjaro, home to the infamous Mount Kilimanjaro, allowing us to further develop our business on the African continent. Kilimanjaro is an established tourist centre and is also fast emerging as a growing economic centre, thanks to its abundant wildlife, natural scenic beauty and natural resources. We have great confidence in the Tanzanian travel market ever since we launched flights to Dar es Salaam in 2007.” For more information about Qatar Airways' African expansion, see this week's lead analysis.
- Taking advantage of a recently more liberalised air service agreement between Russia and France, Transaero has entered the Moscow to Paris market by launching flights from both Moscow Vnukovo (VKO) and Moscow Domodedovo (DME) to Paris Orly (ORY). Domodedovo will get two weekly flights while Vnukuvo will get five weekly flights, both initially to be operated by 737NGs. However, Transaero plans to use 777-300s on the route in the near future to meet the expected demand. According to the airline, Paris is the most popular destination in Europe with Russians. The airline will also codeshare on Aigle Azur’s new four-times weekly Orly – Vnukovo flights that also started this week. Air France and Aeroflot (both SkyTeam members) currently operate five daily flights each between Paris CDG and Moscow Sheremetyevo. These new services will provide some much needed competition on the route. For more information about Transaero, see this week's airline analysis.
- UTair Ukraine commenced services between Donetsk (DOK) in eastern Ukraine and Tbilisi (TBS), the capital of Georgia, on 26 July. Flights will operate twice-weekly (Thursdays and Sundays) using a mix of the airline’s CRJ200s and ATR 72s. TAV Georgia’s GM Mete Erkal expressed his appreciation in relation to UTair Ukraine’s new flights from Donetsk and said: “I am confident that these flights will not only create added value for Georgia in terms of civil aviation but also facilitate the deepening of the relationships between Georgia and Ukraine. The entry of each new company to Georgia’s aviation market is another clear example of how tourism and aviation sectors are developing in Georgia.” Competition on the route is provided by Aerosvit, which operates weekly flights using an ERJ during the summer months.
- On 25 July, Zest Air became the third airline after Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific to offer non-stop flights between Manila (MNL) and Shanghai Pudong (PVG). The Philippine low-cost airline will operate a 180-seat A320 five times weekly between the two cities, compared with daily flights for both of its local rivals. This becomes Zest Air’s third international route from Manila after Jinjiang (China) and Seoul Incheon (South Korea). Kuala Lumpur flights are scheduled to start on 22 October.