New routes launched this week:
- Aer Lingus has added another aircraft to its recently established Belfast International (BFS) base and used it to start four new routes this week. Budapest (BUD) and Faro (FAO) will be served thrice weekly, Malaga (AGP) and Rome Fiumicino (FCO) four times weekly. easyJet provides competition on all these routes except Budapest, though it serves the ‘low-cost’ Ciampino airport in Rome. On Malaga Jet2.com provides further options for local travellers with two weekly flights. Responding to (the lack of) market demand Aer Lingus will be dropping one of its two daily frequencies on its Amsterdam (AMS) route from Belfast at the start of the summer season. It will be replaced by a new route to Paris CDG (CDG). In the first full calendar month (January 2008) of Aer Lingus flying between Belfast and Amsterdam (in competition with easyJet), passenger numbers increased by 50% from 7,500 to 11,200. Unfortunately this failed to come anywhere close to the 200% increase in capacity that Aer Lingus’ doube-daily service provided. Anna.aero estimates that as a result load factors on the route will have fallen from around 80% a year ago to under 40% this January.
- Air Asia has added another international route from its Malaysian base in Johor Bahru (JHB), close to Singapore, with the re-launch of services to Bangkok (BKK). The route was originally launched in June 2004 as a daily service but was axed less than a year later. The new schedule consists of four weekly flights. This new route compensates for the recent axing of two domestic routes to Sandakan (SDK) and Tawau (TWU) both of which were launched two years ago. Air Asia now serves 10 destinations from Johor Bahru (which is also known as Senai International) though its website indicates that new routes to Medan (MED) and Surabaya (SUB) are ‘coming soon’.
- Avianca begins a new route on leap year day connecting Bogota (BOG) with San Jose (SJO) in Costa Rica. Flights will operate four times weekly using a 97-seat Fokker 100.
- Romanian regional carrier Carpatair launched its second route to the Ukraine this week when it began flying from its base at Timisoara (TSR) to Odessa (ODS). Flights will initially be operated three times weekly increasing to six times weekly at the start of the summer season. A 50-seat Saab 2000 ‘Concordino’ will be flown on the route.
- Click Air began serving another domestic destination from its Barcelona (BCN) base this week. Alicante (ALC) will be served thrice-daily with the airline’s 180-seat A320s. This is another example of Iberia handing over one of its routes to Click Air. One-way fares start from €20 including taxes. Competition on the route is provided by up-for-sale Spanair with 23 weekly departures. Click Air now serves 46 destinations from Barcelona (compared with 29 served by Iberia) and also operates more weekly seats from BCN than Iberia. Last year Click Air carried 4.6 million passengers compared with local rival Vueling who carried 6.2 million. With Spanair up for sale and Vueling reporting poor financial results 2008 may be a year of consolidation in the Spanish airline market.
- Skybus introduces two more destinations this week from its second base at Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTI) near Greensboro in North Carolina. The Los Angeles market will be catered for with daily flights to Burbank (BUR) while the New York market will be accessed via double-daily flights to Stewart International Airport (SWF) which is near Newburgh, around 55 miles north of New York.
- Wizz Air increases its presence significantly in Romania this week by launching five new routes. From its Bucharest Baneasa (BBU) base the airline is adding thrice-weekly international flights to Brussels Charleroi (CRL), Milan Bergamo (BGY) and Venice Treviso (TSF). A previously announced route from Bucharest to Parma (PMF) in Italy appears to have been shelved, at least for now. Wizz is also starting a four times weekly domestic service from Bucharest Baneasa (BBU) to Cluj Napoca (CLJ) in Transylvania and is also connecting Cluj Napoca (CLJ) with Dortmund (DTM) three times weekly. In contrast the airline has recently axed its last remaining route to/from Ljubljana (LJU) in Slovenia. Services to Brussels Charleroi (CRL) ended in mid-January.