|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, anna.aero 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
|Continental Airlines celebrates its new service to London Heathrow from Houston, at George Bush Intercontinental Airport’s Terminal E.|
The 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 jet2.com 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.
|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
Lufthansa 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
Compared 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
|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
|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.
Sun 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.
|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.
|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
- Aer 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.
- Porter 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.
- Sterling, 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.
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.