New airline routes launched (18 – 24 March 2014)

Pegasus Airlines’ Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen to Madrid

Spanish music and dancing welcomed those passengers checking-in for the inaugural Pegasus Airlines flight between Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen and Madrid on 24 March. The route will be operated daily with no direct competition.

  • Pegasus Airlines is further strengthening its Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (SAW) hub with the addition of daily operations to Madrid (MAD) and Frankfurt (FRA). Madrid will become the carrier’s second destination in Spain, complementing its existing daily services to Barcelona, whereas Frankfurt becomes German airport #7, joining Cologne Bonn, Düsseldorf, Munich, Nuremburg, Stuttgart and Berlin Schönefeld. The Frankfurt service, which began on 22 March, will face direct competition from Turkish Airlines, which also flies daily on the airport pair. In addition, Lufthansa flies thrice-daily between Istanbul Atatürk and Frankfurt, with Turkish offering 29 weekly flights on the same airport pair. To Madrid, which began on 24 March, there is no direct competition, but from Atatürk, Turkish offers a thrice-daily operation to the Spanish capital. Both new services will be operated by Pegasus’ 189-seat 737-800s.

The rest of this week’s new routes (A – Z by airline)

On 18 March, Honolulu Airport celebrated the launch of ‘Ohana’s new inter-island service with a traditional Hawaiian blessing and chant at gate. Marking the celebrations were (left to right): Hadden Watt, Managing Director, ‘Ohana; Keoni Martin, Flight Instructor, Hawaiian Airlines; Kahu Richard Kamanu; and Peter Ingram, CEO, Hawaiian Airlines.

  • ‘Ohana, Hawaiian Airlines’ newest inter-island subsidiary that in the previous week began operations with Molokai link, continued to expand with a new service from Honolulu, HI (HNL) to Lanai, HI (LNY) on 18 March. The 117-kilometre sector to the sixth largest of the Hawaiian Islands will be operated twice-daily, utilising Empire Airlines’ 48-seat ATR 42-500s. The airline’s second inter-island service is already served by Island Air’s five daily flights. Commenting on the route launch, Peter Ingram, COO, Hawaiian Airlines, said: “We are very excited to once again have all of our islands connected through Hawaiian Airlines and our new ‘Ohana by Hawaiian turboprop service. The island of Lāna‘i is tranquil and enticing, and we invite everyone to fly on ‘Ohana by Hawaiian and explore all of the island’s offerings.”

  • AirAsia has added four new Malaysian domestic routes to its network. None of the four routes is currently operated by any other carrier, and AirAsia will serve them all with between three and four weekly flights using its 180-seat A320s. These are the first new routes AirAsia has launched from its Kuching base (and recent Routes Asia host) since November 2008, when it introduced daily flights to Singapore, and increases its route network from Kuching to 10 routes. From Miri, AirAsia will now be operating to seven destinations this summer.
Launch date From To Distance WF
22 March Kuching (KCH) Kota Bahru (KBR) 1033km 3
21 March Kuching (KCH) Langkawi (LGK) 1286km 4
20 March Miri (MYY) Kuala Terengganu (TGG) 1212km 3
21 March Miri (MYY) Penang (PEN) 1526km 4
Source: Innovata / Diio Mi.

Thai Lion Air starts turboprop operations
  • Thai Lion Air has added an ATR 72-600 to its fleet and used it to launch regional services from Hat Yai (HDY) to Hua Hin (HHQ) and Surat Thani (URT). Both domestic routes commenced operations on 21 March and will be operated five and three times weekly respectively. Neither route is currently served by any other carrier. Andi Burhan, Executive Managing Director of Thai Lion Air said, “Having the ATR allows us to operate to smaller cities and towns in Thailand and develop a more comprehensive domestic network. In some instances we will be pioneering new routes. We chose Hat Yai to be our second hub, because it is a gateway into southern Thailand and we know that many people want to travel to southern Thailand for business and leisure. There are a lot of popular holiday destinations in southern Thailand.” Additional routes to Medan in Indonesia, and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia are scheduled to start in the coming weeks.

  • UTair, which already flies weekly seasonal services between St. Petersburg and Budapest, has launched a weekly flight (Sundays) between Moscow Vnukovo (VKO) and Balaton (SOB), which serves Lake Balaton, Hungary’s most important holiday resort, as well as the thermal spas of Hévíz and Zalakaros. Started on 23 March, UTair will use its 182-seat A321s for the operation. There is no direct competition on this route from Vnukovo, or from Moscow’s other main airports at Sheremetyevo or Domodedovo.

  • VietJetAir has launched daily flights on the domestic route between Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) and Da Lat (DLI). Service on the short 214-kilometre route began on Saturday 22 March, and will be operated by the airline’s A320s. Competition will be provided by Vietnam Airlines who operate the route twice-daily. VietJetAir already serves Da Lat from Hanoi with daily flights, a service it launched back in December 2012, and from Vinh, a route it launched in December 2013. The airline recently acquired its 12th A320, VN-A678 complete with sharklets. This summer the airline will operate 23 domestic and international routes, offering more than 10,000 seats per week.


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