Airlines launch over 200 new routes to celebrate the start of the ‘summer’ season

Image: Air China serve Pyongyang
Air China has become the first modern foreign airline to serve Pyongyang in North Korea with the start of thrice weekly flights from Beijing.

With ever-rising fuel prices, global credit-crunch concerns and possible recessions looming in various parts of the world this may seem like a bad time for airlines to be starting new routes. However, has tracked down over 200 new routes that started during the first week of the summer season. Here are some of the highlights:

All change at London’s top two airports

Image: Continental Airlines celebrates its new service to London Heathrow
Continental Airlines celebrates its new service to London Heathrow from Houston, at George Bush Intercontinental Airport’s Terminal E.

Logo: US AirwaysThe new ‘open-skies’ agreement was the catalyst for much transatlantic activity at London’s Heathrow airport. Continental, Delta, Northwest and US Airways all finally got the chance to enter ‘fortress Heathrow’, while American, British Airways, United and even Air France all launched new transatlantic services from the world’s busiest international airport.

London Gatwick also saw significant changes as easyJet completed its takeover of former BA franchise carrier GB Airways. Most of easyJet’s ‘new’ routes from Gatwick are merely taking over former GB Airways routes, in some cases just for a few weeks. Flybe began two new domestic routes from Gatwick to Newcastle (replacing which had originally replaced BA) and to Aberdeen. BA itself began new routes to Genoa and Poznan, while Click Air and Sterling also started new routes.

Image: Hyderabads new Rajiv Gandhi International Airport
Hyderabad’s new Rajiv Gandhi International Airport was inaugurated at the end of March by Sonia Gandhi, widow of the former Indian Prime Minister. Spicejet has launched a service from Hyderabad to Visakhapatnam, which it operates 14 times per week.

Lufthansa leads legacy expansion

Logo: LufthansaLufthansa and its partner airlines had a busy week launching routes from several German airports. Highest frequency new routes were from Frankfurt to Billund and to Bristol, both of which started with three flights per weekday. A new link between Munich and Klagenfurt (a mere 270 kilometres apart) was also started with thrice daily flights.

Ryanair focuses on UK and Ireland expansion

Image: Ryanair april fools adCompared to the start of the winter season when Ryanair started nearly 70 new routes this summer the Irish low-cost leader has restricted itself to a more modest 27. These 27 routes generate just 83 weekly departures indicating an average frequency of just three flights per week.

UK and Irish airports are involved in nearly all of these new airport-pairs the only exceptions being Charleroi to Perpignan, Weeze to Bydgoszcz, Milan Bergamo to Arad and Pisa to Bari. Angouleme, Arad and Beziers become new additions to the ever-growing Ryanair network.

easyJet opens Lyon base

Image: easyJet plane
easyJet white tail – wouldn’t be seen dead in British Airways colours.

Apart from inheriting expansion at Gatwick and starting Manchester flights thanks to its GB Airways acquisition, easyJet also made Lyon a base this week. The airline has served the airport for many years but from this week it has aircraft based at the French regional airport. New routes to Bordeaux, Lisbon and Venice were started this week with more to follow soon.

Flybe adds more UK domestic routes

Image: Flybe launched new service
Flybe has launched four brand new routes from Inverness to Exeter, Manchester, Southampton and Birmingham. It has also just starting using its newest EMB195 on the Inverness-London Gatwick route ­ the first time the aircraft has been used out of Inverness. Flybe celebrated at Inverness with Brazilian dancers and musicians.

UK regional airline Flybe launched a raft of new domestic routes as well as a couple of new routes to Paris. Its two new domestic routes from Cardiff to Edinburgh and Glasgow will be taking on bmibaby with higher frequencies but smaller aircraft. Aberdeen, Inverness and Newquay also get major increases in service from Flybe.

Image: SunExpress PlaneSun Express opens Istanbul SAW base

Another airline opening a new base was Sun Express which has started operating from Istanbul’s ‘low-cost’ Sabiha Gökçen airport. A combination of domestic and German routes will be served by the airline, which is a joint venture between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines.


Image: Etihad staff
Etihad has begun serving Beijing four times per week. Etihad Airways’ chief executive James Hogan and HE Yusheng Gao, the Chinese Ambassador to the UAE, celebrated last month at a Chinese reception in Abu Dhabi.

Middle East: one new route each for the big three

Emirates began daily flights to Cape Town, Etihad began serving Beijing four times per week and Qatar Airways began serving Guangzhou with five weekly flights. Etihad recently became a major sponsor of the Ferrari F1 team which recently won the Malaysian Grand Prix. Meanwhile newcomer Bahrain Air began flights to Alexandria.


Image: Qatar Airways held a ceremony
Qatar Airways held a ceremony in Guangzhou on 19 March to celebrate the launch of its new service to city. Wael al-Khaldi, Area Manager for Yemen, is pictured making a welcome speech.

Other route highlights

  • Image: Air Lingus asAer Lingus started two more destinations, both in France, from its new Belfast International base. Both Nice and Paris are already served by low-cost rival easyJet. The daily Paris service replaces a second frequency on Amsterdam which Aer Lingus has now reduced to just a daily service.
  • Air China finally became the first foreign airline to serve Pyongyang in North Korea with the start of thrice weekly flights from Beijing.
  • Austrian Airlines began serving two new destinations in Russia. Nizhnyi Novgorod and Sochi will both be served thrice weekly.
  • While other airlines are cutting back their UK to Poland routes bmibaby belatedly starts two new routes to Gdansk from Cardiff and East Midlands.
  • Image: Porter airlines adPorter Airlines, the only carrier at Toronto’s downtown island airport started international flights to New York Newark with flights operating seven times per day on weekdays using Q400s. Frequency is reduced to two just daily flights on Saturday and three on Sunday.
  • Logo: SterlingSterling, fresh from its new corporate makeover, began new routes from five of its Scandinavian bases. Paris is now served directly from Aalborg, Prague from Billund, London Gatwick from Malmo and Murcia from Stockholm Arlanda. Its home Copenhagen base saw new services to Bergen, Gothenburg, Murcia and Valencia.
    Image: Sterling Plane
    Sterling launched its new livery at a ceremony on 28 March. The airline has launched new routes from five of its Scandinavian bases.
  • Swiss began new daily flights from Zurich to Florence, Sofia and St. Petersburg.

New airline routes data for summer 2008 - Click here to download excel document


  1. Greg Witpen says:


    You forgot the 13 new route that Jetblue is starting in May on your spreadsheet! replies: Hi Greg, the spreadsheet only covers new routes that began operating between Saturday 29 March and today Friday 4 April. Don’t worry Greg, your 13 new routes in May will be covered at the appropriate time!

  2. Pascal BIGOT says:

    Hi from Montpellier Mediterranée Airport (MPL)
    Please note that:
    – Holland will start MPL/AMS 4/7 from 11th of April 2008
    – AIR FRANCE will start MPL/AJA 1/7 from 28th of June 2008

  3. Congratulation on such great job in assembling all those informations. I try to collect date on route changes in Central Europe from various sources. My records indicate that in addition to all yours also the following routes started between March 30 and April 5:
    Adria: LJU-ATH (3x), LJU-ARN (4x);
    Jat Airways: BEG-ATH-TIP (2x);
    Jet Air (O2, WAW, Poland); LCJ-BZG-CPH (3x), LCJ-BZG-TXL (2x), LCJ-VIE (10x), BZG-POZ-KRK (6x);
    CSA Czech Airlines: PRG-ALA (2x);
    Malev: BUD-DME (7x, replacing previous route to SVO);
    Armavia (U8, EVN): EVN-ASF (Astrakhan) (1x);
    Sun d’Or (TLV): LCJ-TLV (1x, regular charters);
    S7 Airlines: MOW-DME->TBS (4x, restored);
    Alitalia: FCO-BUD (14x), FCO-BEG (7x), FCO-KBP (7x);
    Turkish Airlines: Antalya-Moscow Sheremetyevo (7x);
    Austrian: VIE-Irbil (2x, restored);
    Air France: CDG-Trieste (3x);
    British Midland: LHR-ALA-FRU (3x, uncertain?);
    Lufthansa: five previous routes from TXL, HAM, FRA, DUS, and MUC to Moscow Sheremetyevo have been relocated to Moscow Domodedovo;
    SAS: OSL-GDN (3x), OSL-KRK (3x);
    Finnair: HEL-GDN (4x), HEL-KRK (2x);
    easyJet: three routes from Bucharest OTP to Milan BGY, LGW and MAD, have been relocated to Bucharest BBU;
    Ryanair: Dusseldorf Weeze-Balaton (SOB) (2x), Weeze-WRO (3x);
    Germanwings: KTW-CGN (3x), KTW-STR (4x), DTM-Zadar (1x);
    Germania (ST, TXL): TXL-Pristina (1x);
    My Air: Bucharest BBU-BLQ-CTA (4x), Bucharest BBU-VCE-BCN (3x), Timisoara-Milan BGY (4x), Timisoara-VCE (4x);
    Fly Nordic: Sockholm ARN-TLL (4x);
    Sterling (NB, CPH): Stockholm ARN-Bourgas (2x), CPH-Split (2x, restored);
    Centralwings (C0, WAW): WAW-LIS (3x, restored), WRO-CIA (3x, restored).
    Also: Carpatair (V3, TSR): has made all its domestic routes from TSR to other Romanian cities: CLJ (6x), BCM (6x), SBZ (6x), OMR-SUJ (6x), and CRA (6x) available as domestic ones. Previously these routes fed only international traffic at TSR. Routes TSR-IAS, TSR-SCV, TSR-OTP, and TSR-CRA-CND could carry domestic traffic for some time already.
    Jerzy Jemiolo replies: Thanks Jerzy, that’s a very comprehensive list. While checking out the Ryanair routes you mentioned I found a couple more. Frankfurt Hahn – Trapani (HHN-TPS) and Frankfurt Hahn – Seville (HHN-SVQ) both began last week with three weekly flights. Re-started routes are often just seasonal routes so I tend not to include them.

  4. Mabelle says:

    Great coverage of new routes but you forgot to mention the most fun stuff from this week… April Fools Day:

  5. Indeed, most of restarted routes are seasonal. However, the seasonal service is crucial for many airports (SPU, DBV, PUY, ZAD, VAR, BOJ, etc. – just in the Balkans), thus important as well. It’s true that seasonal routes are typically less stable over time.

  6. As far as Central Europe is concerned, my records include also two more routes, besides these listed above, scheduled to start between April 5 and April 11. Namely:
    Blue Air (0B, BBU): Bucharest Vlaicu (or Baneasa)-Arad-Barcelona (Prat), weekly, starting April 6, and Air Baltic (BT, RIX) second domestic route in Latvia (after RIX-LPX opened last year): Riga-Ventspils, 10 x weekly (two times on weekdays) starts April 11.
    The CH-Aviation has also recently indicated one more route by a new entrant Austrojet (based in Salzburg, SZG), from SZG to Banja Luka (BNX) in Bosna & Herzegovina, three times weekly. beginning April 8.
    Finally, in my last week’s list of additional routes opened between March 30 and April 4, I omitted Germanwings Stuttgart to Bucharest BBU, 4 x weekly, beginning from March 30. My apologies.
    Again, kudos for really great site.
    Best regards; Jerzy

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