New routes launched during the last week
(Saturday 28 November – Friday 4 December):

Route of the Week:
China Airlines’ Rome to Taipei via Delhi

China Airlines’ new Taipei-Rome service, which makes a stop in Delhi, now provides both Taiwan and Italy with access to India. At Rome Fiumicino: Giorgio Callegari, Alitalia’s director, strategy and alliance, Charles Peng, China Airlines’ European director, Jung Tzung Yih, Taiwan’s ambassador to Italy, Claudio Mancini, Lazio’s councillor for tourism and Elia Pistola, Aeroporti di Roma’s director aviation and security.
As the China Airlines aircraft arrived in Delhi on its first flight from Rome, crew were welcomed by the Delhi marketing team. A welcome note was delivered by Peter Noyce, COO Delhi International Airport. He was joined by Tariq H. Butt, GM airline marketing, Bernard Berger, head of airline marketing, Maria Gaeta, Italian embassy to India, Paul Shek, deputy representative Taipei Economic Culture Centre and Captain Chuy U. Lee of China Airlines flight CI072.
  • China Airlines has changed the stopping location of its route from Taipei (TPE) to Rome Fiumicino (FCO). The aircraft now stop en route in Delhi (DEL) rather than Bangkok on its three weekly flights. This means not only a reduced travel time, but importantly that both Italy and Taiwan again are linked with India since Alitalia suspended its routes from Milan Malpensa to Delhi and Mumbai in March last year and EVA Air withdrew from the Taipei-Mumbai route in June the same year.

Cake of the Week:
V Australia’s Melbourne to Los Angeles

V Australia’s new Melbourne-Los Angeles route was celebrated with a pretty cake and a pretty woman. Australia’s Miss Universe contestant and Celebrity MasterChef Australia participant Rachael Finch cut the cake with V Australia’s executive GM Scott Swift and Melbourne airport’s executive GM corporate development, Damian Tkalec.
Moving out in the sunshine: Rachael was joined by a group of fellow celebrities, all eager to make the first V Australia flight to the entertainment capital of the world. We are greatly indebted to aviation enthusiast Peter Kelly for providing us with this first-hand account of the launch event.
  • V Australia was busy in Melbourne (MEL) this week. First off was a new twice weekly service to Los Angeles (LAX) which will compete directly against Qantas, while there will also be a weekly flight to Phuket (HKT) in Thailand. Both routes will be operated by the airline’s 777-300 aircraft. Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, said, “We are excited to be launching not just one, but two new international routes from Melbourne within a few days of each other and just in time for the peak holiday season. We identified both the US and Thailand as two highly desirable holiday destinations, with the US also a key business route for Victorians. Our aim is to stimulate both leisure and business traffic, provide incentives via affordable and high quality, comfortable flying options and open up opportunities for US based companies to do more business in Victoria and vice versa.” Brett Godfrey added, “While V Australia is less than 12 months old, it has already been recognised globally for its award winning service, friendly crew, unique product offering and has been credited for bringing down fares, in particular on the trans-Pacific route. We are very proud of that in one of the most turbulent times in aviation. Melbourne and Victoria are an important part of our long term growth plan for V Australia and this is clearly demonstrated in the fact that V Australia’s next launch flight will be the direct Melbourne-Johannesburg services scheduled for take-off in March next year. Melbourne will be the only city to have direct flights to all three V Australia international destinations.”
Ioanna Papadopoulou, Athens airport’s director communications & marketing, and Dimitris Gerogiannis, MD Aegean Airlines, inaugurated the airline’s first flight from Athens to Madrid. The crew took part in celebrations before taking off for the Spanish capital. The future Star Alliance member is now the biggest Greek carrier, offering 40% more seats than its rival Olympic Air.
  • Aegean Airlines continues to add major European cities to its Athens (ATH) based network. This week saw the launch of daily flights to Madrid (MAD) using an A320. The route is already served by Iberia with 12 weekly flights. Aegean already serves Barcelona in competition with Vueling. Perhaps surprisingly, these are the only scheduled services between Athens and Spain this winter. In the first nine months of 2009, Aegean carried 2.9 million domestic passengers (3% more than in 2008) and 2.2 million international passengers (up 22% on last year). Dimitris Gerogiannis, Managing Director, commented: “In a challenging environment for the European airline sector, Aegean continued its moderate expansion and at the same time managed to report healthy financial results. Our new fleet, the trust of our passengers, the future Star Alliance membership and our healthy financial position, provide us with confidence for the continuation of our successful path. At the same time we cannot ignore the significant yield pressures as a result of the crisis and the competitive environment, which now have a significant impact on our operating profitability.”
This week, passengers for the first Air Canada Jazz flight from Montreal to Houston were greeted with a Texan theme at check-in. Attending the launch were Air Canada’s GM Operations, Michel Barrette and VP Revenue Management Lucie Guillemette, as well as Aéroports de Montréal’s Deputy Director (Airline Development) Luce Bureau and VP Operations & Aviation Development Normand Boivin.
Image: Air Candad
Yes, it really is Houston. This photo, taken immediately after the first Air Canada Jazz flight from Montreal had landed, was welcomed by Houston airports’ PR & communications director, Roxanne Butler: “It was a cloudy, rainy day in Houston – so the sky is not as pretty as it usually is.” Well, the Star Alliance branded CRJ705 made up for it.
  • Air Canada has begun daily flights from Montreal (YUL) to Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) operated by its partner Jazz Air using a 75-seat CRJ705. No other carrier currently connects these two cities. This brings to 17 the number of US destinations served by Air Canada from Montreal this winter. Montreal becomes the fourth Canadian destination served from Houston after Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver. Star Alliance partners Continental and Air Canada provide ‘competition’ on the Calgary and Toronto routes. “Air Canada is pleased to launch this new route, offering the only daily, non-stop service between these two cities. While Montreal and Houston are both important business and leisure destinations in their own right, they are also convenient connection hubs for customers who wish to travel beyond. Through Houston, customers will have a wide range of choice for travelling further south in the US or to Latin America, while customers arriving in Montreal will be able to easily connect to flights for elsewhere in Canada and across the Atlantic to Europe,” said Marcel Forget, Vice President, Network Planning, Air Canada.
A major new route for Air India – the first time an airline has linked the capitals of India and the U.S. There were several ceremonies in Delhi and Anupama Pasyavala of Richmond, Virginia, the first passenger to check-in at the Air India counter for the AI101 flight to IAD, was given the honour of lighting the traditional lamp. A schoolteacher by profession returning home, Anupama was thrilled to be part of history.
  • Air India has arrived in the US capital. From this week, it is operating services to Washington Dulles (IAD) via New York JFK (JFK) from Delhi (DEL) using a 777-200LR. There are currently just five non-stop services between India and the US; Chicago O’Hare to Delhi (American), Newark to Mumbai (Continental), Newark to Delhi (Continental), New York JFK to Mumbai (Air India), New York JFK to Delhi (Air India). Jet Airways serves three North American destinations (Newark, New York JFK and Toronto) via its ‘scissor hub’ in Brussels.
  • airpacific-ad.jpgAir Pacific, Fiji’s international airline, has initiated direct flights from Nadi (NAN) to Hong Kong (HKG) using a 767. The route was announced as long ago as October 2008. Air Pacific’s Managing Director & CEO, John Campbell, “Hong Kong was selected after exhaustive evaluation of various destinations in Asia as it represents the best economic opportunity for Air Pacific and Fiji tourism. Hong Kong is a major hub for services from China and points in Asia including Japan as well as flights from UK and Europe. Wide ranging connecting flights are available to and from points in India and the emerging Middle East, Russia and Eastern Europe markets which, coupled with a vibrant and dynamic market in Hong Kong and Southern China, presents a major opportunity for Fiji. Hong Kong permits Fiji citizens to enter and transit without a visa so that Fiji citizens can conveniently and freely visit and travel through Hong Kong to India, Asia, China, Middle East and Europe. The market presents an excellent opportunity for air freight export industries from Fiji, particularly fish, marine products and tropical fruits and as well provides strong import cargo opportunities to support the economics of the route”.
Image: Launch of Arik Air’s services between Lagos and New York JFK
The historic launch of Arik Air’s services between Lagos and New York JFK was celebrated at the landmark Plaza Hotel at the edge of Central Park on Manhattan. Dr Michael Arumemi-Ikhide, CEO of Arik Air International (far right) is here seen with his guests, including Ibrahim Auwalu, the Nigerian consul general to New York (second from left).
  • Arik Air has begun flying between Lagos (LOS) and New York JFK (JFK). Flights operate three times weekly using an A340-500 operated by HiFly of Portugal. Arik Air’s Managing Director, Jason Holt said: “Arik Air’s new non-stop flights between Lagos and New York will be the airline’s first transatlantic service. They will also be the first direct flights between Nigeria and the United States to be operated by a Nigerian airline in the last decade. This is of great historical significance for Nigeria and a source of great pride for Arik Air.” The airline’s Chief Commercial Officer, Mr Suraj Sundaram elaborated: “The inauguration of Arik Air’s non-stop services between Lagos and New York will meet the needs of businesses in Nigeria’s commercial hub, Lagos, who are actively seeking air links with New York, the most important commercial centre in the world’s largest economy. As the first Nigerian airline in over a decade to connect the two countries’ respective financial centres, Arik Air is extremely proud to take the lead in fulfilling this strategic role. The benefits to guests of Arik Air’s new non-stop services are many and two of the most important centre on the opportunity to save travel time and reduce costs. By flying with Arik Air direct to New York, guests will no longer need to incur the cost of transit visa fees and other ticket taxes associated with flying via Europe. They will also be able to save a considerable amount of time on this non-stop service, equivalent to almost two full business days over the course of a return trip via Europe.” Mr Sundaram added that Arik Air’s Lagos timings would provide the airline’s guests with the option to connect to and from Nigerian domestic as well as Regional African points. “From Lagos, Arik Air serves 20 other destinations across Nigeria including Abuja and Port Harcourt. The airline also serves five West African cities including Accra (Ghana) and Freetown (Sierra Leone). The reach of our extensive Nigerian and West African networks means Arik Air can offer our transatlantic guests convenient local and regional connections that no other airline can match,” he emphasised.
Image: Inaugural bmibaby flight from Belfast to Prague
The first passengers on the inaugural bmibaby flight from Belfast to Prague were Ciaran and Susan Meenagh, Paul McCormill, Elaine Skillen with Baby Katie and Ann and Tom McKirgan – all from Antrim. They were greeted at the airport by ‘demon’ model Ciara McStravick, bmibaby mascot Tiny and ‘angel’ former Miss Northern Ireland Catherine Milligan.
  • bmibaby seems to have re-discovered the appeal of Prague (PRG). This week saw the launch of three-times weekly flights from Belfast International (BFS) and the resumption of flights from East Midlands (EMA), a route last served by the airline in October 2008. The Belfast route used to be served by easyJet while the East Midlands service will see the airline once again go head-to-head with easyJet. bmibaby already serves Prague from Birmingham and Manchester and has in the past operated to the Czech capital from Cardiff and Durham Tees Valley as well. This Christmas bmibaby will be serving 13 destinations from its home base in East Midlands compared with 11 last Christmas. Cork, Faro, Grenoble and Prague have been added while Palma (at least for winter) and Warsaw have been dropped. Across its entire network this winter bmibaby will be operating 44 routes with almost half of all flights operating on domestic services. Its international destinations comprise Alicante, Amsterdam, Cork, Faro, Geneva, Grenoble, Knock, Malaga, Palma, Paris, Prague and Toulouse.
DanubeWings’ aircraft arrived Wednesday evening at Manchester airport. Starting this week, the capital of northern England is again connected with the Slovakian capital Bratislava and indirectly also with the nearby Austrian capital Vienna. Mancunian skiers will now also have access to the Tatra Mountains’ excellent slopes.
  • Slovakian newcomer DanubeWings has launched three new routes between Slovakia and the UK. Manchester (MAN) gets connected twice-weekly with Bratislava (BTS) and equally often with Poprad-Tatry (TAT), while London Luton (LTN) is served three times weekly from Poprad-Tatry. Both Manchester and London Luton were previously served by SkyEurope until its collapse earlier this year. The routes will now be operated by a wet-leased 737-400 from Czech Airlines.
  • Jet Airways has introduced daily flights from Mumbai (BOM) to Kathmandu  (KTM) in Nepal. Jet Airways Acting CEO Nikos Kardassis said the new flights would serve the busy leisure and business air traffic on the Indo-Nepal sector. “There has been increasing demand for direct air connections between the Indian commercial hub of Mumbai and Kathmandu from both business and leisure travellers. Having introduced the same in the festive season, we are confident that our new daily services on this sector will be much appreciated.” Jet Airways already serves Kathmandu from Delhi where, according to OAG data, there is competition from Air Nepal, Druk Air, Indian Airlines, JetLite and Nepal Airlines.
  • mexicana-routes.jpgMexicana has started flying from Puerto Vallarta (PVR) to Chicago O’Hare (ORD). The service will operate three times weekly using an A319. Competition on the route is provided by American Airlines (nine weekly flights). Last month Mexicana became a full member of the oneworld alliance while its subsidiaries MexicanaLink and MexicanaClick became affiliate members.
Image: Nok Air
Krittaphon Chantalitanon, Thai Airways’ area director (Thailand, Indo-China and Myanmar), Wutthichai Singhamanee, Civil Aviation Department chief and Pinyot Piboonsonggram, director sales and marketing, Nok Air celebrated the new Nok Air routes at the Department of Civil Aviation with cabin crew from the two airlines.
  • Nok Air now operates to three further domestic destinations from Bangkok’s Don Muang (DMK) airport. Using ATR 72s, it has started flights to Buriram (BFV), Nakorn Phanom (KOP) and Sakon Nakhon (SNO). Don Muang airport closed in September 2006 when Bangkok’s new airport at Suvarnabhumi opened, but was later re-opened in March 2007 for non-connecting domestic flights. At present, only Nok Air and One-Two-Go Airlines operate from the facility.
  • Shandong Airlines has introduced daily flights between Hangzhou (HGH) and Shenzhen (SZX) using a 737. The route is already served by Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Shenzhen Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.
  • TACA Peru has begun serving Porto Alegre (POA) in Brazil from its base in Lima (LIM). An A320 will operate the route three times per week. Last year the Brazilian airport handled just under five million passengers making it Brazil’s seventh busiest airport.
Image: Vueling
Not the launch of this week’s routes, but definitely noteworthy: Mercè Suñé, Vueling’s 25 millionth passenger, was greeted last week by Vueling’s chairman Josep Piqué and Barcelona’s airport director Fernando Echegaray. Mercè is given the honour of having one of Vueling’s aircraft named after her and she also won a trip for her and 25 friends to any Vueling destination.
  • Europe’s now third largest genuine LCC, Vueling, began three new routes this week, two of which serve the Canary Islands. From Malaga (AGP) it now competes directly against Air Europa by operating three weekly flights to Tenerife Norte (TFN), while from Valencia (VLC) there are now two weekly flights to Gran Canaria (LPA). Finally, the airline has started operating three weekly flights between Seville (SVQ) and Casablanca (CMN). This brings to four the number of international routes operated by Vueling from Seville; the others being London Heathrow, Paris CDG and Rome Fiumicino. The airline also serves a further six domestic destinations from the airport.

Other events this week

Image: vivaaerobus.com 3rd birthday
Alejandra Ochoa of vivaaerobus very kindly sent us this photo of the airline’s thrid birthday celebrations. Following in the footsteps (or should that be stilettos?) of Ryanair, the Mexican LCC has launched its second annual charity calendar. In more network planning related matters, the airline has announced several new routes from Guadalajara starting next February and March plus a new Hermosillo to Las Vegas route which goes on sale on Monday.

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