New airline routes launched (16 – 22 October 2012)
Gambia Bird’s launch
- The new Gambian national airline Gambia Bird started operations on 22 October, on its first day launching three West African routes. The airline is owned by Germania of Germany, ensuring that the airline is unaffected by the EU ban on Gambian airlines. With a single 144-seat A319 aircraft, Gambia Bird began its first day of operations launching flights from its base in the Gambian capital Banjul (BJL) to Senegal’s capital Dakar (DKR). The 180-kilometre route, which Gambia Bird will operate three times a week, competes with Senegal Airlines’ five and Arik Air’s three weekly flights. The airline also began serving Monrovia (ROB) from Banjul. Twice a week, the airline will operate between the Gambian and Liberian capitals in competition with Royal Air Maroc’s weekly operation. Once a week, Gambia Bird continues on the busy route from Monrovia to Ghana’s capital Accra (ACC), competing with ASKY’s four flights a week and each three flights a week on Delta, Kenya Airways and Arik Air, as well as Air Mali’s twice-weekly operations.
flydubai’s Dubai to Skopje
- flydubai continued expanding its network into Eastern Europe, on 18 October launching two weekly flights to Skopje (SKP), the capital of Macedonia – the country analysed by anna.aero last week. The low-cost airline will operate the route from its Dubai (DXB) base twice a week with its 189-seat 737-800s. The intercontinental route is a major milestone for Skopje, which generates traffic flows to and from Australia that is home to a sizeable Macedonian community. Through a partnership with its full-service sister airline Emirates, flydubai feeds passengers to their joint hub in Dubai. flydubai’s CEO, Ghaith Al Ghaith, said: “More than 40 per cent of our route development this year has taken place in Central & Eastern Europe and with the addition of Skopje, we are connecting the UAE to another underserved market. This illustrates our commitment to this region, while also opening up opportunities for cooperation and collaboration with different nations.”
The rest of this week’s new routes
- Cebu Pacific launched services of the 330-kilometre domestic route from Zamboanga (ZAM) to Cagayan de Oro (CGY) in southern Philippines. Thrice-weekly A319-operated flights are now offered on the route, which was previously served by Philippine Airlines. As the carrier restructures its network, Cebu Pacific continues to explore the newly-arisen opportunities. Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific’s VP Marketing and Distribution, said: “We have enough planes and more are coming this year and in the next few years to cover key local destinations and mount additional flights.” Cebu Pacific has already announced the launch of further three domestic routes in October, while its international network is scheduled to expand in the last two months of 2012 and will include services from Iloilo to Hong Kong and Singapore; and from Cebu to Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.
- easyJet expanded its UK domestic network on 22 October when the low-cost airline launched a new domestic route from Belfast International (BFS) in Northern Ireland, the base analysed this week, to Birmingham (BHX) in England’s Midlands region. This is the airline’s third route to Birmingham after its two seasonal ski routes from Geneva and Grenoble that have operated since 2007. The route is initially operated daily with 156-seat A319s, but frequencies are set to increase to 12 weekly already from the start of the winter scheduling season. Although easyJet faces no direct competition, indirectly competing at Belfast City is Flybe, which operates 42 weekly flights on the route. Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK Commercial Manager, said: “This new route has been driven by customer demand and we are delighted to launch an easy and affordable option of travel from Belfast to the city of Birmingham. The move marks easyJet’s commitment to strengthening its network across the UK with a particular focus on supporting business passengers.”
- Indonesia AirAsia expanded its international network out of Surabaya (SUB), Indonesia’s second-largest city, on 19 October when the low-cost airline began operating four times weekly to Johor Bahru (JHB) on the Malaysian border to Singapore. This is the 180-seat A320 operator’s fourth international route from Surabaya after flights to Kuala Lumpur and Penang in Malaysia and Bangkok Don Mueang in Thailand.
- Jet Airways expanded its network between India and the Persian Gulf in the last week, launching three new routes from Kochi (COK) and Mumbai (BOM), as detailed in the table below. The Indian airline analysed by anna.aero last week already serves Bahrain (BAH) and Kuwait City (KWI) from Mumbai and Sharjah (SHJ) from Kochi, meaning that all three Gulf airports now are served by Jet Airways from both Kochi and Mumbai. Sudheer Raghavan, Jet Airways’ CCO, commented: “In keeping with the growing demand from our guests for seamless connections between the Gulf and India, as well as onwards via our international hub in Mumbai, Jet Airways is delighted to enhance its services on the India-Gulf sector in the winter schedule. Having emerged as among the leading airlines on the highly competitive Indo-Gulf sector in a relatively short period of time, we are confident that the new services will prove popular with our guests.”
|19-Oct-12||Kochi (COK)||Bahrain (BAH)||3||B738||Gulf Air (7), Bahrain Air (5)|
|18-Oct-12||Kochi (COK)||Kuwait City (KWI)||4||B738||Kuwait Airways (6), Air India Express (1)|
|18-Oct-12||Mumbai (BOM)||Sharjah (SHJ)||7||B738||Air Arabia (14)|
|Source: anna.aero new route database, Innovata for w/c 22 October 2012|
- Kenya Airways returned to the Kenyan domestic route between its Nairobi (NBO) hub and Eldoret (EDL), the agricultural and athletic centre in the western part of the country, on 17 October. The SkyTeam airline, which last served the city in 2004, will now operate the route 10 times weekly with its 72-seat E-170 aircraft. Competition on the route comes from Jetlink Express’ 14 and Fly540’s nine flights a week.
- Monarch Airlines launched flights on the 4,000-kilometre winter sun route from Birmingham (BHX) in the UK to Sahrm el-Sheikh (SSH), a popular year-round sea, sand and sun destination in Egypt, which it already serves four times a week from Manchester and with thrice-weekly flights from London Gatwick. Weekly A321-operated flights are offered on the new route, which launched on 18 October. Competition on the route comes from two other leisure airlines, Thomson Airways and Thomas Cook, which already operate respectively three and one flight a week.
- The Russian carrier NordStar Airlines, which last month entered the Chinese market with services from Krasnojarsk to Beijing, now continues its international growth. On 19 October, the airline inaugurated twice-weekly services from its base in Krasnojarsk (KJA) to Dubai (DXB). The 4,600-kilometre route from Siberia to the Arab Emirate is operated with 737-800s. The airline now offers a total of five international destinations, including three in the Central Asian republics.
- OLT Express Germany, which added four new routes from Münster/Osnabrück (FMO) in western Germany in the previous week, on 16 October further expanded with new services to the northern Italian airport Milan Malpensa (MXP). Thrice-weekly flights are now offered on the 730-kilometre route, interchangeably operated with 100-seat Fokker 100s and 56-seat Saab 2000s. The same day, the airline also launched three weekly flights from Dresden (DRS) in eastern Germany to Hungary’s capital Budapest (BUD), which will be operated with Fokker 100s.
- Peach, the Japanese low-cost airline based at Osaka Kansai (KIX) that just received its fifth 180-seat A320, launched two new routes in the last week; one international and one domestic. On 16 October, the LCC launched a daily service to Taiwan’s main airport Taipei Taoyuan (TPE) in competition with six other airlines; China Airlines’ 17 weekly flight as well as each twice-daily flights on JAL and Jetstar Asia, and daily flights on TransAsia, Cathay Pacific and EVA Air. In mid-December, frequencies are scheduled to double to twice-daily. On 18 October, the airline also began operating the domestic route to Okinawa (OKA), the island located between Japan’s larger islands and Taiwan. The twice-daily connection competes with ANA’s 34, Japan Transocean Air’s 21, Skymark’s 21 and JAL’s six weekly flights; however, Peach’s new low-cost rival Jetstar Japan is also due to enter the route at the start of the winter scheduling season, initially daily and then with twice-daily frequencies.
- Pegasus Airlines continues expanding and last week added two further routes to its network. On 17 October, thrice-weekly flights were launched on the 1,100-kilometre route from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (SAW) to Lviv (LWO) in western Ukraine. The Ukrainian airport has seen a number of route launches this year, including Dortmund and Venice (Wizz Air) and Kraków and Wrocław (eurolot), as the airport reopened for business following a comprehensive upgrade of its facilities. On 18 October, Pegasus Airlines added another new route from its Istanbul base and now serves Dubai (DXB) with four weekly flights. Scheduling of the new service makes connections from Europe possible. This is the Turkish low-cost airline’s first route to the Arabian Peninsula.
- Thai AirAsia launched its fifth route to Mainland China from its Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) base on 19 October. The Thai low-cost airline now flies daily to Wuhan (WUH) in central China with its 180-seat A320 aircraft. The other Mainland China destinations served by the airline – all with daily frequencies – are Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Shenzhen. This means that Thai AirAsia is the airline in AirAsia Group with the widest network to Mainland China. On the new route to Wuhan, Thai AirAsia faces indirect competition from China Southern’s three flights a week at Bangkok’s main airport Suvarnabhumi. The only other route between Wuhan and Thailand is China Eastern’s weekly service to Phuket.
- Turkish Airlines launched a new route from its Istanbul Atatürk (IST) hub, the airport analysed this week, to the popular Egyptian resort of Hurghada (HRG) on 17 October, making it the fourth destination the Star Alliance carrier offers in Egypt after Cairo, Alexandria and Sharm el-Sheikh. Thrice-weekly frequencies are offered by the Turkish carrier, all of which will be operated using 124-seat A319s.
- Volaris inaugurated its operations in Querétaro (QRO) in the north-central Mexican region of Bajío with two routes on 18 October. Flights to both the popular Caribbean holiday resort of Cancún (CUN) and Tijuana (TIJ) by Mexico’s border to California are now offered with each twice-weekly frequencies. On the following day, the Mexican low-cost carrier also launched twice-weekly flights on the 600-kilometre domestic route from Hermosillo (HMO) to Culiacán (CUL), both in the north-west of the country, on which it competes against AeroMexico’s twice-daily flights. All services are operated using the airline’s fleet of 174-seat A320s.
- Zest Airways inaugurated services on the 2,500-kilometre route across the South China Sea from Manila (MNL) in the Philippines to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur (KUL), on 22 October. Four weekly flights are offered between the two capitals; all will be operated using the airline’s fleet of 180-seat A320s. Competition in the market is significant, as the route is already operated by Malaysia Airlines three times a day, Cebu Pacific twice daily, and Airphil Express three times a week. Zest Airways, which was originally launched as the Philippines’ first airline run by a cooperative under the name of Asian Spirit in 1996, already operates three other international services from Manila; to Seoul Incheon in South Korea, as well as to Shanghai Pudong and Jinjang in China.