New routes launched during the last week (Tuesday 23 February – Monday 1 March)

Welcoming the first flight from Jinan to Kansai were none less than Shinichi Fukushima, CEO of Kansai International Airport, Hiroshi Shimo, Governor of Wakayama Prefecture, the Chinese Consul General to Osaka and the Shandong Airlines’ GM Japan – a big enough story to merit TV coverage. The banner reads ‘Congratulations to Shandon Airlines for the new scheduled Kansai-Jinan service'.

  • This route was actually launched on 2 March, but we couldn’t wait until next week’s batch of 30 new routes to show you these great pictures of Shandong Airlines’ inauguration of twice-weekly flights between its Jinan (TNA) home base and Osaka Kansai (KIX). This is the first Japanese link from the city of 6 million, located between Beijing and Shanghai. Flights operate on Thursdays and Saturdays with 166-seat 737-800s.

Route of the Week:
Adria Airways’ Ljubljana to Belgrade

A historical moment: Slovenia’s airline Adria Airways again serves Belgrade after the breakup of Yugoslavia. A press conference was held by Orhan Hodžić, General Sales Agent for Adria in Serbia, Miodrag Miljković, Serbia’s infrastructure secretary, Jadranka Šturm-Kocjan, Minister Plenipotentiary at the Slovenian embassy to Serbia and Tomaž Škofic, assistant to VP Sales & Marketing Adria Airways. Photos: Borut Podgorsek,

  • Adria Airways, which was featured in’s airline analysis two weeks ago, has relaunched services from Ljubljana (LJU) to Belgrade (BEG) on 1 March. 48-seat CRJ200s and 86-seat CRJ900s will be used for the six weekly services (daily except Saturdays). The airline used to operate the route regularly until 1991, at the time of the break-up of Yugoslavia. Jat Airways, which originally also dropped the route in 1991, recommenced the route in late 2002 and its four weekly ATR-72 flights will provide competition to Adria. Adria’s assistant to the VP sales & marketing, Tomaž Škofic, commented the timing of the launch: “At Adria Airways we believe that the service will develop successfully, since with the abolishing of visa requirements, there will be an increased volume of commercial activity in Serbia.”

Cake of the Week:
Varsity Express’s London Oxford to Edinburgh

Although the oracles of Wikipedia state that “shortbread is not to be confused with shortcake, which […] always uses a chemical leavening agent such as baking powder”, the powers entrusted in allow us to award Varsity Express’s shortbread Cake of the Week. Lucy, cabin services director on the first flight, is here seen with the delighted airline entrepreneur Martin Halstead.

  • Varsity Express, the start-up virtual airline featured as one of this week’s airline analyses, has commenced operations with the launch of its five weekly Jetstream 31 services from London Oxford (OXF) to Edinburgh (EDI) on 1 March. Tim Gill, an aviation consultant contracted to Varsity commented: “We are delighted to be linking these two important destinations of business and culture. Edinburgh is the most requested domestic route from Oxford, which by train can take over six hours with at least one change, sometimes three. Any day return combination – should one ever contemplate it – would typically take 13 hours in transit.”

Ge Honglin, mayor of Chengdu, and Tan Zhihong, party secretary of Air China cut the ribbon for the opening of Air China’s maiden flight to Bangalore, a ceremony which was followed by a speech by Mr Zhihong.

  • Air China has launched its second service to India. The airline’s Beijing-Delhi service is complemented by a twice-weekly link between Chengdu (CTU) and Bangalore/Bengaluru (BLR) from 27 February. The route will connect the Chinese city aspiring to be an IT centre with the Silicon Valley of India, beginning with 757s, but from the start of the summer season, the aircraft deployed on the route will be A319s.
Cutting the ribbon for Blue1’s return to Berlin

Cutting the ribbon for Blue1’s return to Berlin: Leif Erichsen, spokesman, Berlin Airports; Tom Christides, VP communications, Blue1 and Stefan Eiche, passenger sales manager Germany, SAS. Photo: Günter Wicker/Berlin Airports

  • SAS’ Finnish subsidiary Blue1 resumed flights between Helsinki (HEL) and Berlin Tegel (TXL) on 1 March, using RJ85s for the daily services. The airline gave up the route in February 2008, but now has returned, code-sharing with fellow Star Alliance member Lufthansa and competing with Finnair’s 12 weekly and airberlin’s daily flights.
The chairman of Montenegro Airlines, Zoran Djurisic

The chairman of Montenegro Airlines, Zoran Djurisic, and the mayor of Niš, Milos Simonovic, spoke to the gathered press at Hotel My Place in Niš after the airline’s first flight from Montenegro’s capital Podgorica.

  • Montenegro Airlines launched six weekly flights between the country capital Podgorica (TGD) and Niš (INI), the third city in neighbouring Serbia, on 24 February. The route will be operated with the airline’s F100s. During summer, the airline also serves Niš from its coastal Tivat base.
  • Porter Airlines launched a seasonal route on 28 February. From its Toronto City (YTZ) base, the airline now offers two weekly 70-seat Q400 flights to the coastal resort city of Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR) until 30 May. This is the first international service to operate into Myrtle Beach since the Nassau route was dropped by Hooters Air, which ceased operations in 2006. Also Toronto has been served in the past, when Delta offered flights from Toronto Pearson during the summer of 2000. Porter Airlines’ CEO Robert Deluce commented the route: “Myrtle Beach is an excellent leisure destination for our passengers. It appeals to everyone from families to sports enthusiasts. It is a good match with our successful seasonal program in Mont Tremblant. We now provide top flight golf and ski options to suit all tastes.”
  • Robin Hood Aviation launched its second route on 1 March. Its 33-seat Saab 340s will serve Zurich (ZRH) from Linz (LNZ) eight times weekly, scheduled twice a day Monday-Thursday. The airline already serves Zurich from its Graz home base.
  • Ryanair has had a Spanish theme to this week’s route launches. On 26 February, Bristol (BRS) got a thrice-weekly service to Valencia (VLC). This is Ryanair’s second route from the UK to Valencia, also flying from London Stansted, after the routes from Liverpool and East Midlands were dropped last year. The Bristol-Valencia route used to be served by easyJet (daily during high-season), but was dropped in October last year. On 1 March, Ryanair also launched four weekly domestic flights between Alicante (ALC) and Seville (SVQ), which compete with the 11 weekly CRJ200 services operated by Iberia’s regional franchisee Air Nostrum.

Turkish Airlines’ 4th Italian airport has now received a link with Istanbul. Bologna’s daily flight is here seen inaugurated with a large delegation of ribbon cutters from both the airport and the airline, including Turkish Airlines’ chairman Hamdi Topçu, Bologna’s airport director Giuseppina Gualtieri and head of traffic development Antonello Bonolis.

  • Turkish Airlines launched daily services between its Istanbul Atatürk (IST) hub and Bologna (BLQ) on 1 March. The flights are mostly scheduled with 737-800 aircraft. This is Turkish Airlines’ fourth Italian destination, already serving Milan Malpensa, Rome Fiumicino and Venice.

Plenty of business on day #1 in the remodelled/expanded terminal – thanks Chippewa Valley Regional Airport’s Linda Klett for staying late in the office to get these first day snaps to us (you handled the camera just fine, Linda).

  • United Airlines continues expanding its regional network out of Chicago O’Hare (ORD). On 1 March, two new SkyWest operated CRJ200 routes were launched with twice-daily frequencies each. Both Chippewa Valley Regional Airport/Eau Claire, WI (EAU) and Houghton County Memorial Airport/Hancock, MI (CMX) were served by Delta Connection to Minneapolis/St. Paul until 28 February under the federal “Essential Air Service Program”, which United now has taken over.

The arrival at Houghton County Memorial Airport – kindly snapped just for by airport manager Dennis Hext (thanks Dennis).

Celebrating the new Greek carrier: Roger Gatt, Viking Hellas’ commercial director, Viking Airlines’ CEO Christian Tadjeran and their cabin crew are thrilled about the new Greek links to Iraq and the UK.

  • Viking Hellas, the start-up airline analysed three weeks ago, has launched its second Iraqi route. The capital cities of the airline’s home country Greece, Athens (ATH), and its target market Iraq, Baghdad (BGW), are now linked once-weekly since 1 March. Targeting the UK-Iraq market, the airline’s Manchester service receives an additional weekly frequency that connects with the new route.
  • vivaaerobus continues its expansion at Guadalajara (GDL). Ciudad Juarez (CJS) on the border to the United States is served with daily 737-300 flights from 1 March. The route is operated in competition with Aeroméxico Connect’s six weekly ERJ-145 services.


  1. Antonis says:

    interesting facts about the two Greek carriers future merge. It would have been good if you could say more about the staff future of both airlines. As they said there will be no reduduncies.

  2. We here at hidden europe are always so in awe of your usually so well reseached articles and insight. We learn a lot from Anna Aero. But how, oh how, could you so famously misjudge the Varsity story? Just taking a look at their forward bookings, we could see that not a single seat had been sold for many sectors later this month and on through April. That was clear as from 15 March only the first seat on every service was available at the lead-in fare of 49 pounds, and for many flights that fare was still available.

    Of course you correctly pointed out (in one of your airline analyses) that Varsity did not have an AOC. But you failed really to communicate what that meant. Varsity was not an airline (at least in any sense that the public would understand). Like Martin Halstead’s previous ill-fated venture, Alpha One, Varsity was really no more than an agency, a virtual entity that had letterhead (perhaps) and a website (now an apologia for a website).

    Varsity’s speedy and sad demise does nothing to inspire public confidence in start-up carriers. But let us be clear. This was an elaborate game, just as Alpha One was, by someone who is adept at courting publicity and has a dream of running his own airline. Is there any way the cake of the week (or shortbread of the week) award from Anna Aero to Varsity can be revoked?

    • Although we try to take a neutral stance to these matters, we applaud anyone who has the guts to start up an airline (be it a virtual one or not). We then leave it to our capable readers like you to make a judgement. As a B2B product for the network planning community, we also do not feel the need to explain the meaning of a virtual airline or an AOC.

      Most importantly, the ‘Cake of the Week’ award, which is awarded based on a number of secret and highly complex variables, none of which is the commercial viability of the route or airline, cannot be revoked.

    • Additionally, some trivia regarding virtual airline start-ups is that easyJet once began its success story that way.

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