New airline routes launched (5 – 11 February 2013)
VietJet Air’s Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok
- VietJet Air went international last week, as it launched daily flights on the 700-kilometre route from Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) to Bangkok (BKK) on 10 February. All flights to the Thai capital, which is VietJet Air’s first destination outside of Vietnam, are operated with A320s. VietJet’s Business Development Director, Desmond Lin, commented: “Our business plan for the first year of operation has been beyond our expectations. We now plan to spread our wings across the APAC region.” Significant competition is provided by Vietnam Airlines (18 weekly frequencies), Thai Airways (14), Turkish Airlines (7), Lufthansa (3), and Qatar Airways (2).
SpiceJet’s Delhi to Guangzhou
- SpiceJet became the first low-cost airline to offer flights between India and China on 8 February, when it commenced four-weekly flights on 3,700-killometre route from Delhi (DEL) to Guangzhou (CAN). Flights from the Indian capital to the southern Chinese trade hub are served using 737-800 in competition with China Southern Airlines’ 757-operated 10-weekly frequencies. Following last month’s launch of flights to Riyadh and Dubai, respectively from Delhi and Ahmedabad, SpiceJet now operates 11 routes to seven international destinations from six airports across India.
The rest of this week’s new routes (A – Z by airline)
- Air Macau inaugurated services from its Macau (MFM) hub to Wenzhou (WNZ) on 6 February, making the south-eastern Chinese city the 15th destination it flies to in the country. Flights on the 1,000-kilometre route are offered with thrice-weekly frequencies. Zhu Song Yan, CEO of Air Macau, said: “This new route creates a channel for political, economic and cultural exchange between Macau and Wenzhou”. Wenzhou is the airline’s second destination launched this year: On 9 January, four-weekly flights to Shenyang commenced.
- Allegiant Air, the winner of the 2013 US ANNIES awards in the Airline With The Most New Airports category, inaugurated services on three new routes from Honolulu, HI (HNL). On 8 February, the airline launched thrice-weekly flights to Phoenix-Mesa, AZ (AZA) and single weekly to Spokane, WA (GEG). On the following day, Boise, ID (BOI) was connected to Honolulu also with single weekly flights. All services are operated using the airline’s fleet of 757s.
- Blue Islands Airways commenced thrice-weekly flights on the route from Jersey (JER) in the British Channel Islands, to the Dutch capital of Amsterdam (AMS). All services are operated using ATR-42s beginning on 7 February. Rob Veron, Blue Islands’ MD, said: “Today’s new service to Amsterdam marks a seismic shift in the travel opportunities from the Channel Islands. The constant rise of fees and charges to travel to and from Gatwick and Heathrow airports is ever more evident making it vital we become less reliant on these airports for connections to and from our Channel Islands.”
- bmi regional added a second route to its Bristol (BRS) offering on 11 February, following the launch of 12 weekly flights to Aberdeen in late October last year. The airline now serves Hamburg (HAM) in northern Germany with five weekly departures, all of which are offered using 37-seat ERJ135. The 900-kilometre route was first served non-stop in December 2005 when both easyJet (with 149-seat A319s) and OLT of Germany (with 50-seat Saab 2000s) began serving the market which links two major Airbus facilities. In 2006 over 50,000 passengers flew on the route (Source: UK CAA), but unusually easyJet was the first to blink and dropped the route in October 2006 having operated six weekly flights. OLT, which had operated double-daily flights (on weekdays) continued to serve the route until May 2009, when it too withdrew from the market.
- easyJet, which was heavily involved in London Southend’s (SEN) development last year, continues to explore new opportunities at the Essex airport. On 8 February, it launched four-weekly services on its first route to Italy from Southend, making Venice (VCE) the ninth destination it offers at the airport overall. All flights are operated using A319s. In June, the airline will also add new services to Berlin, Krakow and Newquay as well as resuming seasonal services to Ibiza and Palma. London Southend handled almost 620,000 passengers in 2012 thanks primarily to easyJet, up from just 42,000 in 2011.
- Emirates Airline inaugurated services from its Dubai (DXB) base to Warsaw (WAW) on 6 February. The Polish airport, which for a long time was neglected by MEB3 carriers, now enjoys daily A330-200-operated flights by Emirates in addition to the Doha service, which was launched by Qatar Airways with four-weekly, A320-operated frequencies in December 2012, but was since upgraded to daily. Interestingly, Emirates is only the second – after LOT Polish Airlines – carrier to deploy wide-body equipment to Warsaw, and the only airline to offer first class cabin service.
- Indonesia AirAsia was quick to react to the demise of Batavia Air in late January, as it launched services on the route from Semarang (SRG) on the north coast of Java to Singapore (SIN) on 7 February. Similar to the schedule offered by Batavia Air, Indonesia AirAsia offers four weekly flights on the 1,200-kilometre route. Before its demise, the airline previously offered two domestic destinations from Semarang – Jakarta (14 weekly frequencies) and Surabaya (7).
- United launched a weekly seasonal route from its Chicago O’Hare, IL (ORD) hub to the capital city of the Bahamas, Nassau (NAS), on 9 February. The low frequency service is operated by SkyWest using 66-seater CRJ-700 and is scheduled to terminate in early August.
- Vietnam Airlines commenced operations on the domestic route from Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) to Thanh Hóa (THD) on 5 February. Located on the northern Vietnamese coast south of the Pink River delta, Thanh Hóa Airport was only allowed mixed military and civilian use in December 2012, and the new six-weekly service is currently its only route.
- Vision Airlines inaugurated services on the 800-kilomtere route from Orlando Sanford, FL (SFB), to Gulfport-Biloxi, MS (GPT) on 6 February. Thrice-weekly departures are now offered by the airline, all operated with 136-seat 737s.