New airline routes launched (4 – 10 September 2012)
Route of the Week:
US Airways’ Philadelphia to San Antonio
- US Airways launched two new routes to Central Texas out of its Philadelphia, PA (PHL) hub in the last week. Both routes are operated on a daily basis with the airline’s 99-seat E-190 aircraft. On 4 September, the Star Alliance airline began serving San Antonio, TX (SAT), while the following day saw the launch of flights to the state capital Austin, TX (AUS). The airline already serves both airports from two of its other bases; Phoenix and Charlotte. Doug Driskill, Chair of the Austin Chamber Air Services Task Force, commented: “The business community has cited improving nonstop air service as one of the top three enablers of growth for the technology community. This new nonstop flight to Philadelphia supports our access to good high tech markets and hub connections on the east coast. We look forward to our continued partnership between the business community and the airport on air service initiatives.”
Cake of the Week:
Air One’s Venice to Brussels
- Alitalia’s subsidiary Air One on 10 September became the eighth low-cost airline to serve Belgium’s capital Brussels (BRU), following Air Arabia Maroc, Belle Air, Blue Air, easyJet, germanwings, Pegasus and Vueling. The Italian airline now flies daily with its 180-seat A320s from its latest base in Venice (VCE), competing with the network carrier Brussels Airlines’ twice-daily flights. Brussels Airlines was last up against competition on the route in the 2008-09 winter season when Air One’s parent Alitalia operated between the two airports. Although Brussels, which is Air One’s ninth destination from Venice, is a new airport for Air One, its parent and codeshare partner on the new route, Alitalia, already serves Brussels with multiple daily flights from both Rome Fiumicino and Milan Linate.
The rest of this week’s new routes
- AeroMexico, which launched services to Querétaro last week, inaugurated high-frequency services on the route from Mexico City (MEX) to Saltillo (SLW) in northeastern Mexico on 10 September. Thrice-daily flights are now offered on weekdays and twice-daily on weekends on the 700-kilometre domestic route. All flights will be operated with 50-seat ERJ145s by AeroMexico Connect. Competition on the route comes from Aeromar, which offers 29 weekly flights between Mexico City and Saltillo.
- Air France continued expanding its network out of its Marseille (MRS) base in southern France on 5 September, launching a route to Israel’s main airport Tel Aviv (TLV). This is the airline’s third route to Tel Aviv after its flights from Paris CDG and Nice. The new route is operated three times a week with A320 aircraft, competing with El Al’s four flights a week. During the winter season, frequencies will be reduced to twice-weekly. Notably, Marseille has one of Europe’s largest Jewish communities and El Al’s competing flights have operated for an entire 40 years.
- Delta Air Lines launched two new domestic routes on 5 September, both of which are operated by ExpressJet with regional aircraft. From the airline’s main hub in Atlanta, GA (ATL), it now operates 32 weekly flights to Dallas Love Field, TX (DAL), complementing its 79 flights a week to Dallas/Fort Worth – an airport pair where it also faces competition from American Airlines and Spirit. The 1,160-kilometre route is operated with 50-seat CRJ200s. The same day, Delta connected Minneapolis/St Paul, MN (MSP) with Syracuse, NY (SYR). Flights operate daily with 65-seat CRJ700 aircraft, complementing the airline’s existing four services to Syracuse from Detroit, New York LGA, Atlanta and New York JFK. The last time the route was operated was under the name of Delta’s predecessor Northwest, which flew between 2004 and 2005.
- The British regional carrier Flybe has started its expansion out of East Midlands (EMA) as a result of the closure of bmibaby and its base at the airport near Nottingham. The two Scottish routes dropped by bmibaby in June were now picked up by Flybe on 10 September. The airline now flies 12 times weekly to Glasgow (GLA) and Edinburgh (EDI) with 78-seat Q400 aircraft. Both routes are operated thrice-daily on weekdays, once on Saturdays and twice on Sundays. Andrew Strong, Managing Director Flybe UK, commented: “We have strived to create a schedule that appeals to both business and leisure travellers and so are pleased with the response with the take up of our early morning southbound and evening northbound flights in particular. This confirms the importance of both of these routes that provide a crucial link to the industries based in the East Midlands.” Ken O’Toole, Manchester Airports Group’s CCO, said: “It’s clear based on previous demand, that links to Edinburgh and Glasgow are enormously important to our passengers. The fast response by Flybe, to preserve these vital links to Scotland, underpins the important role the airport plays as a gateway from the East Midlands to the UK, Europe and beyond.”
- The Indian low-cost airline IndiGo commenced twice-daily operations on the 1,340-kilometre route from Mumbai (BOM) to Chandigarh (IXC) in the northern Indian state of Punjab. All flights to this new destination are operated with the airline’s fleet of A320s. Three carriers already serve the route: GoAir (twice-daily), Jet Airways (daily), and Kingfisher (daily). Speaking at the launch of the new route on 10 September in Mumbai, Aditya Ghosh, IndiGo’s president, said: ”Mumbai-Chandigarh emerged as a sector that has started attracting both leisure and business passengers in the recent past, and hold immense potential for IndiGo.”
- The Swedish regional carrier NextJet on 10 September launched an international route previously operated by now bankrupt Cimber Sterling and Skyways. From Norrköping (NRK) in eastern Sweden, the airline now flies 16 times a week to Denmark’s capital Copenhagen (CPH). The 400-kilometre route to the Scandinavian hub airport, where NextJet partners with SAS, is operated with Saab 340 aircraft. Notably, NextJet already operates between Copenhagen and Linköping, merely 45 kilometres from Norrköping, and expects the two routes to complement each other. After the route was left unserved for almost four months, the first two flights took off full. Mari Torstensson, Norrköping Airport’s Managing Director, commented: “We have not experienced such a long interruption in air traffic between Norrköping and Copenhagen since the route was opened in 1964. It is therefore very joyous for us and the local industry that NextJet relaunches the route.”
- SpiceJet inaugurated services on two domestic routes to Jabalpur (JLR) in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on 7 September. Flights from both Delhi (DEL) and Mumbai (BOM) are now operated on daily basis using Q400s. While there is no competition on the 870-kilometre route from Mumbai to Jabalpur, Kingfisher and Air India operate respectively daily and four-weekly services to Delhi, a distance of 665 kilometres.
- Spirit Airlines began serving Baltimore/Washington, MD (BWI), the airport analysed this week, with two routes on 6 September, using 178-seat A320 aircraft. The twice-daily operations from Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL) are moved from Washington Reagan, while the low-cost airline’s daily flights from Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DTW) are new. Mark Kopczak, Maryland native and Spirit’s Senior Director of Network Planning, said: “Our new location at BWI allows us to better serve our customers from throughout the entire Baltimore/Washington region. BWI provides Spirit with better scheduling flexibility and the ability to add flights to more cities nonstop.” Both routes face considerable competition; the Dallas/Fort Worth route is also operated by American Airlines with 40 weekly frequencies, while both AirTran and Southwest operate the Fort Lauderdale route with a combined 70 flights a week.
- TAME, the state-owned Ecuadorian carrier, launched daily services from Bogotá (BOG) in Colombia to Caracas (CCS) in Venezuela. The new route comes as an extension to the airline’s service from Quito to Bogotá, which launched a month ago, and was possible only after TAME was granted regulatory approval from Venezuelan authorities. Rafael Farías, TAME’s CEO, said: “Launching a stopping service from Quito to Caracas via Bogotá helps us make the new route financially sustainable, but also allows us to closely monitor load factors in each market.” Competition on the route comes from Avianca (21 weekly flights), Copa (13) and Conviasa (6). TAME plans to further extend the route with services from Quito to Lima scheduled to launch in November, subject to regulatory approval.
- Turkish Airlines further expanded its African network with the addition of new route from Istanbul Atatürk (IST) to Djibouti (JIB), the capital of the small country on the Horn of Africa bearing the same name. Flights to the airline’s 22nd African destination operate with twice-weekly frequencies and continue onward to Mogadishu in Somalia. This makes Turkish Airlines the only airline to serve Djibouti non-stop from Europe, with the second European airline to serve Djibouti being Air France, which operates a stopping service via Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.
- Ural Airlines launched services from Chelyabinsk (CEK) in the Ural Mountains to Tashkent (TAS), the capital of Uzbekistan, on 5 September. Weekly frequencies will be offered on the 1,670-kilometre route using A320 aircraft. The airline already connects the Uzbek capital with five other Russian cities – Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara and Ekaterinburg.
- UTair Ukraine, the Kiev-based sister airline of Russia’s UTair, launched daily services on the route from Kiev Zhuliany (IEV) to Moscow Vnukovo (VKO) on 10 September. CRJ200 aircraft will be deployed on the 740-kilometre route. There is no direct competition on the route, although Aerosvit serves Vnukovo with eight weekly flights from Kiev Boryspil Airport, while Transaero connects Kiev Zhuliany and Moscow Domodedovo with six weekly flights. Further 83 weekly frequencies are offered by a mix of carriers from Kiev Boryspil to Moscow Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo airports.
- VietJet Air, the Vietnamese low-cost airline that launched operations at the end of last year, has added yet another domestic route to its network on 4 September. From Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) in southern Vietnam, the airline now serves Hai Phong (HPH), in the north of the country and the nation’s third-largest city, with daily flights. The operator of 180-seat A320s faces competition from Vietnam Airlines’ four flights a day and Jetstar Pacific’s twice-daily services.
- Volotea launched four European routes on 10 September, two each from Nantes (NTE) and Venice (VCE). Montpellier (MPL) and Munich (MUC) are now connected with the western French city of Nantes with each thrice-weekly services, while the airline’s Venice base gained two domestic Italian destinations; Bari (BRI) and Lamezia Terme (SUF) in the south of the country, both of which the airline now serves with four weekly frequencies. On the French domestic route, Volotea competes against Air France, which offers 18 weekly flights from Nantes to Montpellier; in addition, Alitalia flies four times a week from Venice to Lamezia Terme and as often as twice-daily to Bari.