New airline routes launched (22 – 28 January 2013)
CityJet’s London City to Nuremberg
- Air France commenced operations on the 800-kilometre intra-European route from London City (LCY) to Nuremberg (NUE) in German Bavaria on 27 January. The service operates with 11 weekly frequencies using BAe 146s. Christine Ourmières, CityJet’s CEO, said: “Nuremberg is a key business hub in Europe given its position as the capital of Germany’s industrial heartland. It is the head office location for many of Germany’s multi-nationals such as Siemens, Puma and Adidas and it plays host to several international trade fairs.” Previously, the route was operated by Lufthansa since November 2007, but the service was then withdrawn only two seasons later.
Qatar Airways’ Doha to Najaf
- Qatar Airways added Najaf (NJF) in central Iraq to its offering from Doha (DOH) on 23 January. The airline, which already operates to Erbil and Baghdad, now operates four-weekly services to Najaf using its A320s. Akbar Al Baker, the airline’s CEO, said: “Iraq is proving to be an important market for Qatar Airways. The start of our services to three cities in the country within a short span of time emphasises the value and importance of tourism, trade and business links between Qatar and Iraq.” While there is no direct competition on the 1,000-kilometre route, flydubai offers thrice-weekly schedule from Dubai, which it launched in January 2012.
The rest of this week’s new routes (A – Z by airline)
- airberlin commenced daily flights on two routes from Berlin Tegel (TXL) to south-eastern Europe on 28 January, and now serves both Bucharest (OTP) in Romania and Sofia (SOF) in Bulgaria each with daily flights. A319s are deployed on both routes. While Lufthansa provides competition on the Romanian route, on which it operates six weekly services, Bulgaria Air operates five weekly flights to the Bulgarian capital. Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, the airline’s Chief Strategy and Network Planning Officer, commented: “We have a clear goal to strengthen our network in 2013.The new routes increase our presence in Central and Eastern Europe to nine destinations, creating new transfer opportunities for travellers.”
- Atlasjet continued its domestic expansion last week, this time from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (SAW), adding further two destinations to the three, which already launched this year. On 22 and 25 January respectively, the airline added Van (VAN) in south-eastern Turkey and Kars (KSY) in north-eastern part of the country. Services on both routes are offered on daily basis using A320s. While Atlasjet is uncontested on the route to Kars, Pegasus Airlines provides competition in the market from Istanbul to Van, in which it offers also daily flights. In addition to the domestic expansion, Atlasjet also plans for new international services. Sami Alan, the airline’s CEO, commented last week: “We have obtained a license to operate in South Sudan and are currently purchasing new planes. We are looking to start this year with two planes, but a third aircraft should follow soon after.”
- China Eastern Airlines returned on its only Thai route from Chengdu (CTU) on 26 January, and now operates daily services to Phuket KT). While Sichuan Airlines and City Airways already operate the route, with six and twice-daily frequencies respectively, Thai Airways’ five-weekly services to Bangkok are the only other route to Thailand from the Sichuan city. Flights on the route, which was last operated by China Eastern in October 2012, are operated using A320.
- Dragonair, which already added flights to the Chinese city of Zhengzhou this year, continued the growth of its Chinese outreach last week, as it added daily flights to Wenzhou (WNZ) to its offering from Hong Kong (HKG) on 25 January. Dragonair’s CEO, Patrick Yeung, commented: “Dragonair continues to keep a close eye on China and the Southeast Asian region, two areas of high potential and dynamic traffic flow. With the launch of Wenzhou, Dragonair serves 22 destinations in our core market of Mainland China.” Flights on the 900-kilometre route are operated in competition with China Eastern Airlines’ also daily frequencies.
- Hong Kong Airlines inaugurated daily flights on the 1,800-kilometre route from its Hong Kong (HKG) base to Kota Kinabalu (BKI) in Malaysia on 25 January. Services to this popular tourist gateway to Borneo, which is the airline’s only Malaysian destination, are operated using A320s. Competition on the route comes from AirAsia (twice-daily frequencies), Malaysia Airlines (nine weekly) and Dragonair (eight weekly).
- LAN increased its presence in the Brazilian market on 22 January, as it launched daily services from Rio de Janeiro (GIG) to Miami, FL(MIA). The 6,700-kilometre route, which is already operated on a daily basis by LAN’s partner, TAM, will bring the two airlines on par with American Airlines, which offers twice-daily frequencies from its Miami hub. LAN deploys 767-300s on the route.
- SAS increased its seasonal ski route offering last week, as it launched low-frequency flights to two Austrian destinations. Commencing respectively on 24 and 26 January, the Scandinavian airline inaugurated twice-weekly services from Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) to Innsbruck (INN), and weekly from Oslo (OSL) to Salzburg (SZG). Competition on the routes comes from Niki (weekly flights on the Innsbruck to Arlanda route) and Norwegian, which offers twice-weekly departures from Oslo to Salzburg. Both routes are operated with 737s.
- Spirit Airlines added New Orleans, LA (MSY) as its 15th destination from Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DFW) on 24 January. The ultra-low-cost carrier now operates a daily schedule on the 720-kilometre route, in competition with American Airlines’ (42) frequencies. The airport’s Chairman, Nolan Rollins, said: “The New Orleans Aviation Board is pleased that Spirit Airlines recognizes the value in adding our airport and City to its diverse network that spans cities throughout the United States and a significant number of international destinations.”