Route of the Week:
Virgin America’s Los Angeles and San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale
|Splashdown: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood. Wednesday, Nov. 18. And yes it’s him! Sir Richard is known to have an unexplained hatred of hi-vis jackets and is one of the few people in the world rich enough to be able to refuse to ever wear one. So how they got him to put this one on, while the Virgin America flight attendant eschewed hers, is a deep mystery. (Photo by Virgin America, Bob Riha, Jr.)|
- It was a big week for Virgin America as it launched flights to Florida making Fort Lauderdale (FLL) the airline’s 10th destination with the introduction of double-daily flights to both Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO). There were also no surprises about scale of the big party waiting on the tarmac at Fort Lauderdale due to the presence Sir Richard Branson, industry’s pre-eminent party animal. “The decision to make Fort Lauderdale the newest destination in the airline’s network is a testament to the investments made in our airport and the strong tourism economy of our region,” said Broward County Mayor Ken Keechl. There was an equally warm send-off from the West Coast: “Congratulations to our hometown airline Virgin America on the launch of its tenth destination – and also to SFO for inaugurating service on a brand new route,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. “As the only San Francisco-based airline, Virgin America continues to drive economic growth for the greater Bay Area. As the airline continues to inject its innovative competition into new markets, it reflects the very best entrepreneurial spirit of our region.” Coincidentally (not) jetBlue has also started San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale flights this week (see below). The Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale route is already served by Delta (four weekly flights) and Spirit Airlines (daily).
Cake of the Week:
Pakistan International Airlines’ Lahore to Amsterdam via Frankfurt
|Pakistan International Airlines’ first flight from Lahore to Amsterdam Schiphol was celebrated with a cake this week by Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Pakistan’s ambassador to the Netherlands and Mr Shah, GM, PIA Netherlands. This is PIA’s second route between Pakistan and Amsterdam.|
- Pakistan International Airlines this week started flying between Lahore (LHE) and Amsterdam (AMS), returning from Amsterdam via Frankfurt (FRA). The weekly service, operated using an A310, complements the airline’s existing twice-weekly services to Amsterdam from Islamabad via Istanbul.
- AirAsia follows the launch last week of flights to Kochi in India with two further new Indian destinations from Kuala Lumpur (KUL). It has started daily flights to Kolkata (CCU) and Trivandrum (TRZ). Neither route is currently served non-stop by any other carrier. AirAsia Regional Head of Commercial, Kathleen Tan said, “AirAsia is reiterating its commitment to the Indian market with the launch of three new routes – Kolkata, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). While most airlines are cutting back during these tough economic times, AirAsia is aggressively expanding its India route network as we believe there is robust demand in low fare travel. The three new India destinations are colourful cities with rich historical and cultural traditions. We believe our low fares and outstanding innovative services, will definitely open up new markets, stimulate new travel demand and enable more people to fly with us; thus promoting tourism which is beneficial for the economies of both countries. It has been an ongoing and sustained effort for AirAsia to provide the best service with unbelievable low fares to our guests. With the introduction of the three new routes, connectivity to the three cities to and from Kuala Lumpur direct will bridge social ties and promote new connectivity via our hub in Kuala Lumpur as a gateway to over 130 routes in Asia, including the ones served by Airasia X, its long haul affiliate to Australia (Gold Coast, Perth, Melbourne), China (Hangzhou, Tianjin, Chengdu), Taipei, London and Abu Dhabi, bringing the well known brand on to a global stage” concluded Kathleen.
|Alaska Airlines let Mileage Plan MVP Gold member Paul Alberque cut the ribbon for the inaugural flight from Portland to Chicago O’Hare. He is seen here with Donna Westerlund, Alaska Airlines’ Portland customer service supervisor, Steve Jarvis, Alaska Airlines’ VP marketing sales & customer experience, Bob Derse, Alaska Airlines’ regional sales manager Pacific Northwest, David Zielke, Port of Portland GM air service development, Dee Dee Butler, PDX Alaska Airlines’ inside account executive and Suzi Hoadley, Horizon Air’s sales manager.|
- Alaska Airlines has begun daily flights between Portland (PDX) in Oregon and Chicago O’Hare (ORD) using a 737-800. Flights depart the West Coast at 10:10 and arrive in the windy city at 16:00. Chicago flights depart at 16:45 and get back into Portland at 19:10. Competition on the route is provided by United who operate three daily flights. This brings to 27 the number of routes operated by Alaska Airlines (and its partner Horizon Air) at Portland. Last year, Portland handled 14.3 million passengers but in the first 10 months of 2009 demand has fallen by 11.3%. Alaska and Horizon combined account for one in every three passengers with Southwest the second busiest carrier at the airport accounting for almost 20% of passengers.
|David Jones, an aide to US Senator for Maine Susan Collins, is checked in for the St Pete flight at Bangor. It’s a dark mildish 10C at the Bangor end – as you can see our colleague Mark Young of WKIT needs to warm himself with a Sunset Breeze – but it was 30C in the Tampa Bay area on Friday! Our thanks to Risteen Masters of Bangor for the rapid photo response.|
- Allegiant Air started five new routes this week, three to Florida and two to Arizona. From its Phoenix/Mesa (AZA) base it now serves Pasco (PSC) in Washington State and Wichita (ICT) in Kansas. From its Orlando Sanford (SFB) base it now offers connections to Duluth (DLH) in Minnesota and Fayetteville Northwest Arkansas (XNA). Finally, St Petersburg-Clearwater (PIE) in Florida is now connected to Bangor (BGR) in Maine. All of these routes will be served just twice-weekly.
|David G. Jennings, chairman of the Charleston County Aviation Authority and Francisco Porras, regional sales manager mid-Atlantic region, American Eagle, at the send off for the first flight to Miami yesterday. (Our thanks to Becky Beaman, director of public affairs, for the late-night fast photo service.)|
- A busy week for American Airlines at Miami (MIA) airport with the introduction of five new routes. American Eagle began daily flights to Charleston (CHS) in South Carolina and Knoxville (TYS) in Tennessee using ERJ145s. Through its partner, Puerto Rico based Executive Airlines, American Eagle has also begun three new routes to the Bahamas. Using ATR 72s it has initiated new non-stop flights to the wonderfully evocative sounding destinations of Governor’s Harbour (GHB), North Eleuthara (ELH) and Treasure Cay (TCB). All three routes are served either three or four times weekly. Elsewhere on the American network there is also a new daily flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Santa Fe (SAF) in New Mexico. Santa Fe’s only other scheduled service (to Dallas/Ft Worth) is also provided by American. Finally, American has resumed flights between Washington Dulles (IAD) and San Juan (SJU) in Puerto Rico. United already operates this route on a daily basis while jetBlue operates a weekly (Sunday) service.
|Knoxville Tennessee yesterday: The man on the right with the really big scissors is Kirk Huddleston, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority. He is joined by other city leaders including Russ Jensen, director of Knoxville’s 3-1-1 service (Knoxville is proud of its community phone service!) Justin Bermack, a community affairs senior executive for American Airlines; Denise Lambert, representing Congressman John Duncan, Jr, and Jane Chedester, representing Senator Lamar Alexander. Becky Huckaby, MKAA director of PR, kindly supplied this superbly community-spirited photo for us with great speed.|
- Starting today (Friday), Flydubai has begun daily flights from Dubai (DXB) to Baku (GYD) in Azerbaijan. This becomes the airline’s ninth route since it began operations less than six months ago on 1 June. The route is already served daily by Azerbaijan Airlines using an A319.
- Hainan Airlines has introduced twice-weekly flights between Beijing (PEK) and Khartoum (KRT) in Sudan. Flights operate every Tuesday and Friday using an A340-600. From Beijing flights depart at 01:50 in the morning and arrive in Sudan at 08:45. Flights depart Khartoum at 13:15 getting in to Beijing at 05:00 the following morning. Hainan Airlines already has a presence in Africa thanks to operating to Lagos in Nigeria, though this is a one-stop service via Dubai.
|jetBlue’s new route from its Fort Lauderdale hub to San Francisco was given a proper celebration at both ends of the route.|
- In a busy week for new California to Florida services, jetBlue has begun flying between Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and San Francisco (SFO). The daily A320 service will be competing against the new Virgin America service, also launched this week. The airline used to serve Oakland from Fort Lauderdale. This becomes jetBlue’s fifth route to San Francisco which it also serves from Austin, Boston, Long Beach and New York JFK.
|Kingfisher’s passengers were welcomed at Salem airport with the traditional aarti tika ceremony on the occasion of the airline’s launch of daily direct flights connecting Salem with Chennai.|
- Kingfisher Red, Kingfisher Airlines’ low-cost subsidiary, has this week launched daily direct flights from Chennai (MAA) to Salem (SXV). The route, which will be operated using the airline’s ATR family aircraft, appears to be Salem’s only scheduled service. Mr Prakash Mirpuri, Kingfisher Airlines’ VP corp comms, commented; “I am delighted to announce the launch of Kingfisher Airlines’ new service from Chennai to Salem. The launch of this route marks the first time ever that any airline is operating flights between these two cities. With our excellent onward connectivity, we expect that these flights will offer businessmen and political leaders a convenient option. This new direct flight will offer travellers an easier and more convenient way to get to Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad from Salem via Chennai.”
- LAM Mozambique Airlines make their first appearance in anna.aero this week with the introduction of twice-weekly flights from Maputo (MPM) to Luanda (LAD) in Angola. The service, which operates on Mondays and Fridays, is flown using one of the airline’s new Embraer 190s. TAAG Angola will code-share on the route.
- LOT has resumed flights between Warsaw (WAW) and Kaliningrad (KGD). It operated the route between 2002 and September 2008 when KD Avia launched competing services. With the demise of KD Avia the Polish carrier is returning to the route using an ATR72 operated by its subsidiary EuroLOT operating on a daily basis.
|Launched with Thai dancing: Western Australian holidaymakers now can travel on Pacific Blue’s first Thai route, which started from Perth this week. The paradise island of Phuket is served twice-weekly and the inaugural flight included a fundraising for The Phuket Sunshine Village orphanage.|
- Pacific Blue has entered the Thai market for the first time with the introduction of twice-weekly flights from Perth (PER) to Phuket (HKT) using a 737-800. Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, said, “We’re really looking forward to adding another destination to our network and pleased to be starting by offering Western Australian (WA) travellers a new direct flight to Phuket. The Virgin Blue Airline Group has made very clear our commitment to WA. We have been steadily expanding our Virgin Blue domestic and regional operations most recently with increased Perth – Port Headland services and now we are adding a new Pacific Blue route from Perth to Thailand. Thailand is known as the “Land of Smiles” and we have every intention of giving Perth travellers plenty of reasons to smile when it comes to being able to afford to holiday in one of Asia’s most exotic hot spots.” The six-and-a-half hour flight departs Perth on Tuesdays and Saturdays, returning on Wednesdays and Sundays.
|Leisure appeal at both ends: Ryanair’s route between Rome Ciampino and Billund is likely to attract both Danes travelling to the Eternal City and Italian families travelling to visit Legoland, Lalandia etc.|
- Ryanair launched just a single route this week, between Rome Ciampino (CIA) and Billund (BLL). This becomes the airline’s 9th route to the Danish airport located close to Legoland. Ryanair has also recently started Rome Ciampino routes to Bratislava, Oslo Torp and Wroclaw. Destinations once, but no longer, served by Ryanair from Billund are Birmingham, Frankfurt Hahn, Madrid and Valencia.
- TACA has inaugurated three new routes from San Salvador (SAL) in El Salvador. There are now daily flights to Roatan (RTB) in Honduras using an ATR 72 and daily flights to Houston Bush (IAH). There is also a new service to Cancun (CUN) in Mexico which operates six times weekly.
Previous route launches
|Captain Dieter Hannig and Mohammed Thamir cut the cake on the arrival of Condor’s route from Frankfurt to Bahrain earlier this month.|
|In a true Hamburg fashion, the Condor crew was treated with flowers and a cake at the launch of flights to Agadir.|