AirAsia expands in India; Hannover base #6 for Germanwings…and other good (and not so good) announcements…

Celebrating the announcement of the six new low-cost Air Asia (X) routes to India this week: Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of AirAsia X, Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of AirAsia, Ong Tee Keat, Minister of Transport Malaysia, Aziz Bakar, Chairman AirAsia, Kathleen Tan, Regional Head of Commercial, AirAsia Berhad, and Tn. Haji Azizan Noordin, Deputy Director General (Planning) Tourism Malaysia. Inset: A candid Mazlan Rasheed, Commercial PR Air Asia, also rejoices at the launch of the six new routes with some colleagues (thanks for the pictures Mazlan!!!)

AirAsia this week announced six new routes between Malaysia and India, starting between 28 April and 4 August. Five of these will be from the airline’s main hub in Kuala Lumpur. Two of the routes (Delhi and Mumbai) will be operated by AirAsia X’s A330s, while the rest will use AirAsia’s 180-seat A320s. The airline currently serves four destinations in India. Tiruchirappalli (Trichy), Kolkata, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) are all served daily. Trichy was the airline’s first destination in India in December 2008 while the other three routes all began just last November.

Chart: AirAsia’s Kuala Lumpur base - Top 10 international markets (weekly frequency)
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 1 February 2010

The five new routes will increase the number of weekly departures flown by AirAsia from Kuala Lumpur to India to 67, making it the third biggest international market after Indonesia and Thailand.AirAsia’s regional head of commercial Kathleen Tan said, “We are confident that AirAsia’s direct connection serving Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai & Delhi will be able to stimulate new travel demands and further tap markets, especially that of young working adults and families, to travel to Malaysia and thereafter use Kuala Lumpur as a gateway to over 130 routes in Asia, that includes regional ASEAN cities or long-haul sectors serviced by AirAsia X.

Image: Ong Tee Keat, Minister of Transport Malaysia
Ong Tee Keat, Minister of Transport Malaysia, celebrates the fact that the new routes mean he’ll be getting more tourists from India with a gift from Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of AirAsia

This translates into a low-cost yet efficient travel experience for guests who benefit from using the LCC Terminal in Kuala Lumpur to connect to destinations as diverse as Australia (Gold Coast, Perth, Melbourne), China (Hangzhou, Tianjin, Chengdu), Taipei, London and Abu Dhabi,” concluded Kathleen.

Germanwings makes Hannover its sixth German base

15 routes will be operated from germanwings’ new base in Hannover, pleasing both the airline’s CEO Thomas Winkelmann and the airport’s boss Raoul Hille (who no doubt hopes it will reverse the 12% traffic decline in 2009).

Lufthansa’s low-cost subsidiary germanwings recently unveiled Hannover in northern Germany as its sixth base after Berlin Schönefeld, Cologne/Bonn, Dortmund, Hamburg and Stuttgart. Three A319s will be based at the airport from the end of April. Destinations and frequencies are summarised below:

Frequency Destinations
Double-daily London Stansted, Stuttgart, Vienna
Daily Milan Malpensa
3-4 per week Barcelona, Budapest, Moscow Vnukovo, Palma de Mallorca, Rome Fiumicino, Split, Zagreb
1 per week Bastia, Dubrovnik, Heraklion, Zadar
Source: Germanwings

Existing carriers on these routes are airberlin (London Stansted, Palma, Stuttgart, Vienna), Lufthansa (Stuttgart), Condor (Palma) and TUIfly (Palma). Two other Moscow airports are already served by Aeroflot (Sheremetyevo) and S7 Airlines (Domodedovo).

The new Barcelona and Rome routes help fill in a couple of the blank cells highlighted in’s recent analysis of services from German regional airports. Notably, the Barcelona route will provide a non-stop link between the airports serving the headquarters of German car-making giant Volkswagen and its Spanish subsidiary Seat. The route has been left unserved since Iberia franchisee Air Nostrum abandoned it in 2007.

In the first 11 months of 2009, Hannover’s traffic was down 12.2% compared with 2008. The average decline across all German airports for the same period was 5.1%.

Seven new transborder routes with Air Canada from Toronto

Image: John Wayne Airport’s, Orange County Eric Freed, and Courtney C. Wiercioch, deputy airport director public affairs
John Wayne Airport’s, Orange County Eric Freed, and Courtney C. Wiercioch, deputy airport director public affairs, smile at this week’s ACI-NA Air Service Data & Planning Seminar in Vegas as they hear Air Canada will start new daily flights to Santa Ana along with six other destinations.

More US cities will get access to Canada this summer with the launch of seven new routes by Air Canada from its main base at Toronto Pearson airport. As a result the airline will now serve over 50 US destinations non-stop from the airport. Air Canada announced this week that it will start new daily flights to Orange County (Santa Ana), San Diego and Portland (Oregon) using its own A319s while Air Canada Jazz CRJs will connect Toronto with Cincinnati and Memphis twice-daily from 17 May. Finally, Air Georgian will operate Beech 1900Ds on double-daily flights to Portland (Maine) and Syracuse, also from 17 May. As our analysis of the Canada – US transborder market  showed last year, Air Canada is by far the dominant carrier with more than twice as many flights as its nearest rival United. Only Cincinnati is currently served from Toronto (by Delta). San Diego and Portland (Oregon) both have daily flights to Calgary and Vancouver. For Orange County, Portland (Maine) and Syracuse these routes will be the only scheduled flights to Canada.

Aer Lingus cuts 10 routes at Gatwick

Image: Aer Lingus cuts 10 routes at Gatwick
It’s not all bad news: A new double-daily service to Cork will begin at the end of March (in direct competition with Ryanair). was saddened to hear about Aer Lingus’ retreat from our local airport, London Gatwick. The decision to set up a base at London Gatwick in summer 2009 was a brave attempt to rely less on the airline’s main home base of Dublin where it was under increasing pressure from Ryanair (ironically, a significant shareholder in the company). During 2009, Aer Lingus began 13 new routes from Gatwick, eight of which ended up being in direct competition with easyJet, Gatwick’s biggest customer these days, as well as several other carriers including Monarch. Earlier this month, Aer Lingus announced it would be reducing its presence at the airport from five to three aircraft, and axing 10 routes, leaving just two Irish routes (Dublin and Knock) and one Spanish route (Malaga) from its schedule last summer. A new double-daily service to Cork will begin at the end of March (in direct competition with Ryanair).Four of the 10 routes dropped were the routes it offered without direct competition to Bucharest, Eindhoven, Vilnius and Warsaw. The remaining monopoly route to Knock will be maintained. Passenger data for November and December shows how these routes have performed recently.

Chart: Aer Lingus’ monopoly routes at LGW - Monthly passengers: 11/2009 and 12/2009
Source: UK CAA

Daily flights were scheduled for all of these routes, though there may have been a number of cancellations in late December due to the snow that fell which disrupted operations in the UK and Ireland. Assuming all planned flights were operated with 174-seat A320s, then the monthly load factors for Bucharest and Eindhoven were around the 50% mark, Vilnius was in the low 60s and Warsaw was 66% in November and 72% in December.The other six routes dropped (Arrecife, Faro, Munich, Tenerife Sur, Vienna and Zurich) are all still operated by easyJet, who will now be able to raise fares in the market as supply has reduced to more closely match demand.

airBaltic’s eight new routes; five from VNO, three from RIX

Image: airBaltic at Vilnius base
As previously reported by, airBaltic has considered further expansion of its relaunched Vilnius base, subject to the performance of the already started routes. Clearly, the routes have performed well, since airBaltic now announces another four destinations.

Latvia’s airBaltic has revealed plans to add five more routes to its rejuvenated Vilnius base. Dublin, Hamburg and Manchester services start at the end of March, with Oslo flights commencing in mid-May. Dublin and Hamburg will be operated as ‘night-flights’ while the Oslo flights will depart Vilnius at 05:45, all of which helps to increase aircraft utilisation and keep unit costs down. Aer Lingus’ decision to vacate the London Gatwick – Vilnius route (see above) has encouraged airBaltic to start its own twice-weekly service on the route from 4 March.

Image: editor Ralph Anker with James Dillon-Godfray, head of marketing and development, London Oxford Airport editor Ralph Anker with James Dillon-Godfray, head of marketing and development, London Oxford Airport.

Additionally, from its home base in Riga, it has also recently announced plans to serve two Middle East destinations. Amman and Beirut services, which will both operate twice-weekly, begin in June. Finally, having announced a Vilnius to Manchester service it comes as no great surprise that the airline will also link Riga with Manchester, three-times weekly from 29 March.

New UK airline to serve London Oxford Airport

Varsity Express is the name of a new UK regional airline which is launching flights from London Oxford Airport to Edinburgh on 1 March using an 18-seat Jetstream 31. The service will initially operate Monday to Friday. Commercial Director Will Gilligan told that “there will be several new routes announced from Oxford in the coming weeks”, and is planning to be on the airline’s inaugural flight in just a few week’s time.


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