New airline routes launched (30 January 2018 – 5 February 2018)


Air Arabia Sharjah to Moscow Sheremetyevo 

“We thank the Russian authorities and Sheremetyevo Airport for their warm welcome. Moscow is a metropolis that brims with culture, and Sheremetyevo adds a convenient gateway to enter and discover this historic city,” said Adel Al Ali, Founder and CEO of Air Arabia at the launch of the LCC’s new service to the Russian capital. The airport’s Vladimir Khizhnyak, Director Aviation Commerce & Marketing and Alexander Nikonov, Head of Foreign Airlines Division were both on hand to take part in the inaugural flight celebrations.

  • Air Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa’s first and largest LCC, launched a four times weekly service to Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO) from its Sharjah (SHJ) base, becoming its second route to the Russian capital, joining its existing daily service to Moscow Domodedovo. “The Middle East is one of the key international destinations for us and Air Arabia as the leading low-cost carrier of the region will encourage the development of a route network in this direction for the benefit of our passengers”, said First Deputy Director General for Operations of Sheremetyevo Airport Andrei Nikulin. Starting from 1 February the outbound flight G9951 departs Sharjah at 09:10, arriving at Sheremetyevo at 13:35. The inbound flight G9952 leaves Russia at 14:35, landing in the UAE at 20:45 (all times local). There is no direct competition on the flights, which will be upgraded to a daily service from 1 March 2018.

Philippines AirAsia Clark to Ilo Ilo, Puerto Princesa, and Tacloban

Celebrations were had at Clark Airport to herald the start of Philippines AirAsia’s new routes to Ilo Ilo, Puerto Princesa, and Tacloban, with the festivities also including a cake cutting ceremony. Seen conducting the cutting of the baked creation are: Carol Uy, Regional Director of DOT III; Alexander Cauguiran, President CEO of Clark International Airport Corporation; and Darren Acorda, Chief Pilot Training and Standards Captain, AirAsia.

There were also celebrations at Tacloban Airport to welcome the inaugural Philippines AirAsia service from Clark on 2 February. The following day,  the carrier launched two more domestic destinations from Clark to Ilo Ilo and Puerto Princesa. The airline faces no direct competition on the Ilo Ilo and Tacloban routes, but the connection from Clark to Puerto Princesa is already operated three times weekly by Philippine Airlines.

  • Philippines AirAsia this week launched three domestic links from Clark (CRK), beginning services to Tacloban (TAC) on 2 February, followed by Ilo Ilo (ILO) and Puerto Princesa (PPS) the following day. The 653-kilometre route to Tacloban will be served four times weekly, while the 542- and 636-kilometre links to Ilo Ilo and Puerto Princesa will be operated three times weekly. All three routes will be operated using the airline’s fleet of A320s. Only the Clark to Puerto Princesa airport pair will face direct competition, with Philippine Airlines already serving this route with three weekly services. These new routes mean that Philippines AirAsia has doubled its domestic connections from Clark, with the LCC already serving Davao, Kalibo and Caticlan from the airport. See how Tacloban Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world

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


A special ceremony was held at Jaipur Airport on 5 February to celebrate the inaugural AirAsia X flight from Kuala Lumpur which landed that evening. The LCC will serve the 3,841-kilometre route four times weekly with A330s and faces no direct competition. The AirAsia Group now offers 110 weekly flights connecting Malaysia to India.

  • AirAsia X began flights between Kuala Lumpur (KUL) and Jaipur (JAI) on 5 February. The low-cost long-haul operator will serve the 3,841-kilometre airport pair four times weekly with A330s and faces no direct competition. “India is one of our key growth markets, and we can build a stronger foothold here. We now fly to two destinations in the world-renowned Golden Triangle with the addition of the Jaipur flights to our existing Delhi services,” said Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, AirAsia Executive Chairman and AirAsia X Group CEO. “This latest route addition brings the total weekly flights connecting Malaysia to India under the AirAsia Group to 110 and a total capacity including AirAsia X to 22,755 seats. This new service to Jaipur is part of our goal to meet the growing demand for regional connectivity to tier-two cities in India. Through the increase in flight operations from airports in tier-two and tier-three cities, India’s regional connectivity will be enhanced. We expect this new route to boost passenger growth between Malaysia, India and the region.”

A celebratory event was held in Abha’s departures hall in the presence of the Chairman of flyadeal and DG of Saudi Arabian Airlines Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser; Regional Director Airports, Fahd Bin Abdullah Al-Adwani; CEO of flyadeal Con Korfiatis; and airport officials, staff and members of the press. After cutting the cake made for the start of services from Jeddah and Riyadh, guests were also treated to a traditional dance highlighting the Asir province’s heritage.

  • flyadeal, the LCC owned by flag carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines, launched services to Abha (AHB) on 1 February, with double-daily flights from both Riyadh (RUH) and Jeddah (JED). The tourist destination in the mountainous south-west of Saudi Arabia is the latest addition to the airline’s network, joining the likes of Dammam, Gassim and Gizan. The first flight (F3171) was flown by the LCC’s A320 named “Al-Janah”, a recent addition to the airline’s fleet. Con Korfiatis, flyadeal CEO said: “Since the beginning of our operations, we have delivered on our promise of helping customers enjoy an affordable flight experience delivered with a great attitude. Today, as we continue to expand our network, we are pleased to bring our service to Abha, a city that has made its mark on the map of the Arab world’s tourist hot spots.” Competition on both routes is intense, with parent Saudi Arabian offering 72 and 91 weekly flights on the sectors to Jeddah and Riyadh, with fellow LCCs flynas providing 19 and 28 weekly services, and SaudiGulf Airlines operating five and 14 weekly flights respectively.

Hainan Airlines Haikou Sydney

Hainan Airlines operated its inaugural flight between Haikou and Sydney on 30 January, with the route launch being celebrated with festivities at the former end of the route. The carrier will serve the 7,376-kilometre airport pair twice-weekly, with flights departing Haikou on Tuesdays and Sundays, before returning on Wednesdays and Mondays. There is no direct competition on this sector which the carrier will operate using its fleet of A330-300s.

  • Hainan Airlines launched flights on its new connection between Haikou (HAK) and Sydney (SYD) on 30 January. The 7,376-kilometre link from the capital of Hainan Island will be operated twice-weekly, with flights departing Haikou at 18:50 on Tuesdays and Sundays, before arriving in Sydney at 07:15 the following morning. Return services then depart Sydney on Mondays and Wednesdays at 09:15, landing back into Haikou at 16:05 the same day. All flights will be operated by A330-300s in a 283-seat configuration. “We congratulate Hainan Airlines, China’s fourth-largest carrier, on their third destination from Sydney in two years, following the successful launch of both Xi’an and Changsha,” said Geoff Culbert, CEO of Sydney Airport. “Haikou to Sydney was chosen as the first-long haul route from Haikou once we discovered Australians’ love of Bali,” said Chao Guo, Deputy GM, Sydney branch for Hainan Airlines. “Hainan Airlines today introduced direct flights from Haikou to Sydney, with the forming being the capital city of Hainan Island, which is a holiday paradise located in the southern-most part of China. Australians visiting Haikou, Sanya and the rest of Hainan Island also have the convenience of a visa on arrival while enjoying the service of this five-star airline.” According to OAG schedules, Sydney is currently the only long-haul service being flown by Hainan Airlines from Haikou.

SAS Chambery

Passengers disembark SAS’ inaugural service between Stockholm Arlanda and Chambery on 3 February. The Star Alliance member will operate a weekly (Saturdays) service on the 1,749-kilometre sector until 7 April. Flown using its fleet of A319s, SAS will face no direct competition on the route according to OAG schedules.

  • SAS commenced its newest connection from Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) on 3 February, inaugurating a 1,749-kilometre link to Chambery (CMF) which it will operate using its fleet of A319s. The Star Alliance member will serve the airport pair with a weekly (Saturdays) rotation on a seasonal run which ends on 7 April according to OAG schedules, with data also confirming that the carrier will face no direct competition on its newest route. Chambery greeted around 186,000 passengers in 2017 according to Vinci. Other new routes planned by SAS from Arlanda this year include Aarhus, Birmingham, Gazipasa, Örnsköldsvik and Verona.

Scoot Kuantan

Scoot’s inaugural service from Singapore received a welcoming committee at Kuantan Airport on 2 February. The LCC will operate the short 282-kilometre hop three times weekly. Direct competition on the route comes from firefly which already provides daily services. This is the airline’s sixth connection to Malaysia for W17/18.

  • Scoot operated its inaugural service between Singapore (SIN) and Kuantan (KUA) on 2 February. The LCC will serve the short 282-kilometre airport pair three times weekly using its fleet of A320s. The carrier faces direct competition from incumbent operator firefly, with the latter already serving the sector with a daily rotation using its fleet of ATR 72-500s. OAG schedules show that the addition of Kuantan increases the number of Malaysian destinations in Scoot’s network to six for W17/18. See how Kuantan Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world

There were celebrations at Chengdu on 1 February to mark the first Thai AirAsia flights from Bangkok. The LCC also began services between Phuket and Kunming on the same day. Both airport pairs will be operated daily with A320s, with each route already being served by incumbent carriers. According to Thai AirAsia, the carrier now offers services to 13 Chinese cities from Thailand across 22 routes.

  • Thai AirAsia launched two new routes from Thailand to China on 1 February with services commencing from Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) to Chengdu (CTU), and from Phuket (HKT) to Kunming (KMG). The 1,883-kilometre Don Mueang-Chengdu sector, and the 1,952-kilometre Phuket-Kunming route will each be operated daily with A320s. The airline faces direct competition on both new airport pairs with the Chengdu link already served daily by firefly, while the Kunming connection is currently operated by China Eastern Airlines, Kunming Airlines and Lucky Air, which will provide eight frequencies between them during the week commencing 6 February. According to Thai AirAsia, the carrier now offers services to 13 Chinese cities from Thailand, across 22 routes.

Scottsbluff United Airlines

Scottsbluff Airport baked a cake to greet United Airlines’ inaugural service from Denver on 30 January. The Star Alliance member will operate a twice-daily service on the 241-kilometre sector using its CRJ 200s.

  • United Airlines has debuted two Nebraska routes from Denver (DEN) this week, with the Star Alliance member commencing services from its Colorado hub to North Platte (LBF) and Scottsbluff (BFF). The latter was the first to launch, with the 241-kilometre route being inaugurated on 30 January, while the 364-kilometre link to North Platte commenced two days latter. Both sectors will be flown twice-daily using the carrier’s CRJ 200s, with no direct competition being provided. See how Scottsbluff Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world

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