New airline routes launched (20 – 26 November 2012)
Frontier to Shenandoah Valley
- Frontier Airlines launched services on two routes from Orlando, FL (MCO) on 20 November, increasing the number of destinations it offers from the city to 15. Columbia, MO (COU), and Shenandoah Valley, VA (SHD) are now served respectively with two and three weekly frequencies. During the launch of the route to Columbia, MO, Daniel Shurz, the airline’s SVP Commercial, said: “Community demand from customers in the Columbia/Jefferson City region has been strong, and we are excited to increase the mobility in the region.” Meanwhile, good load factors on the inaugural flight to Shenandoah Valley, VA, where Frontier is the only low-cost carrier and the first one to operate jet aircraft, were commented upon by the airport’s Director, Greg Campbell: “Frontier was surprised, and so were we. They might be staying here for the long-haul.”
Turkish Airlines to Malé
- Turkish Airlines continues its world-wide expansion with services from Istanbul Atatürk (IST) hub to the Maldivian capital of Malé (MLE). Beginning on 25 November, the airline offers five weekly services on this 6,000-kilometre routing. Flights are operated with A330-200 and Turkish Airlines is the sole carrier to serve the route. In addition, on the following day, the airline grew its offering in the domestic market with the launch of the competition-free service from the largest Turkish city to Kutahya (KZR) in the North West of the country. Four-weekly services on the route are now operated with variable narrow-body equipment.
The rest of this week’s new routes
- Afriqiyah Airways, which commenced flying on the route from Benghazi to Khartoum in Sudan in the preceding week, continued international expansion on 21 November with the inauguration of its first route to Morocco. Notably, the airline, which has lately been focused on reconstructing its business following the civil unrest in Libya in February 2011, now flies with thrice-weekly frequencies from the country’s capital, Tripoli (TIP) to Casablanca (CMN) in Morocco. The A319-operated schedule faces competition from Royal Air Maroc’s five-weekly, and Libyan Airlines’ four weekly flights.
- Air China commenced services on the 2,500-kilometre route from Chongqing (CKG) in south-west China, to Harbin (HRB) in the north-east of the country. Daily flights, which will be operated via Xi’an (XIY), are now served using 737-700s and face competition from seven weekly services each by Chongqing Airlines (via Qingdao), Shandong Airlines (via Chongqing), and Sichuan Airlines (via Nanjing); additionally, China Southern offers thrice-daily frequencies via Zhengzhou.
- Far Eastern Air Transport inaugurated flights on the route from its Taipei Taoyuan (TPE) base to Hefei (HFE) in Eastern China, bringing the total number of destinations it operates to in the Middle Kingdom up to three (it also serves Shijiazhuang with thrice- and Guiyang with twice-weekly flights). Beginning on 24 November, Far Eastern Air Transport offers flights on the 800-kilometre route with twice-weekly frequencies. Competition on the route comes from four-weekly frequencies offered by China Eastern.
- Qatar Airways continues to expand its presence in the Balkans with new route from its Doha (DOH) base to the Serbian capital of Belgrade (BEG), which it launched on 20 November. Thrice-weekly A320-operated flights are offered on the route, all of which will be operated via Ankara (ESB) in Turkey. However, Qatar Airways was unable to obtain fifth-freedom rights from the Turkish Authorities to sell tickets on the sectors between Turkey and Belgrade. During the launch ceremony, Qatar Airways’ CEO, Akbar Al Baker, said: “Belgrade is renowned across Europe for its buzzing nightlife and unique cultural attractions – we are proud to make it accessible for the rest of the world.”
- SunExpress Germany inaugurated services on the 2,300-kilometre winter sun route from Frankfurt (FRA) to Casablanca (CMN) in Morocco. Beginning on 21 November, thrice-weekly services will be operated using the airline’s fleet of 737-800s. Competition on the route comes from Royal Air Maroc, which already serves the route with five weekly departures.
- TAM launched services on the route from the world’s capital of carnival, Rio de Janeiro (GIG), to Santiago de Chile (SCL) on 25 November. Daily frequencies will be operated on the 2,900-kilometre route with A320s, adding to the twice-daily flights already offered by TAM’s merger partner, LAN. Notably, the two airlines also enjoy a duopoly on the route from São Paulo Guarulhos to Santiago, on which they provide a combined total of 56 weekly departures.
- VietJet Air inaugurated operations on the route from Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) to Huế (HUI), located around 1,100 kilometres to the north, on 22 November. A320s will be deployed to operate the daily schedule. The airline, which is the country’s first privately-owned low-cost carrier, competes on the route against Vietnam Airlines’ four-daily frequencies.