Route of the Week:
Bahrain Air’s Bahrain to Dhaka and Chittagong
Ibrahim Alhamer (centre), managing director of Bahrain Air, piloted the first A320 into Dhaka – and received a mystery gift from the grateful hosts. The Bangladeshi market is important to the airline because of the large guest worker community in Bahrain.
- Bahrain Air has launched flights from Bahrain (BAH) to Bangladesh, its first two routes to the country. On 16 March, thrice-weekly flights to Dhaka (DAC) were launched, followed by four weekly services to the port city of Chittagong (CGP) starting on 21 March. The airline’s MD Ibrahim Alhamer, who piloted the inaugural A320 flight to Dhaka, said that further frequencies will be evaluated depending on the reception of the routes and pointed out their viability: “This is an important destination for us because there are thousands from Bangladesh in Bahrain who still do not have many options to travel to their homeland.” The current link between the two countries is on Gulf Air to Dhaka, which is operated 12 times weekly with A330 and A340 wide-body aircraft.
Cake of the Week:
Bulgaria Air/Kur-Club to Varna
There were no cakes for new scheduled routes this week, but we have just got hold of this great photo from the first summer season flight at Varna airport in Bulgaria. Bulgaria Air and tour operator Kur-Club brought 164 charter tourists from Frankfurt and Düsseldorf to the airport at the Black Sea coast.
Although Aer Arann flew straight to Gloucester/Cheltenham from Dublin all four days of the Cheltenham Festival, we presume Michael O’Leary (insert, left) flew Ryanair to Bristol to see his horse Weapons Amnesty (insert, right) win the RSA Chase on the second day of the festival - a St Patrick’s Day to remember.
- Aer Arann operated four flights from Dublin (DUB) to Gloucester/Cheltenham (GLO), near the English border to Wales, between 16 and 19 March, using ATR-72s. The flights served the Cheltenham Festival, the prestigious horserace that traditionally attracts great numbers of Irish visitors. The flights departed Dublin at 9.15 in the morning and were scheduled to return at 8 o’clock in the evening. Aer Arann’s Corporate Affairs Director Andrew Kelly commented: “Cheltenham is one of the biggest dates on the Irish and UK racing calendars. Each year Irish people flock to the racecourse to join in the action and next year will be no different. We recognised the demand for a day return flight option and adjusted our services to meet consumer needs accordingly.”
Air Europa’s new Miami route was announced to the South Florida press by Gerardo Ariño, General Sales Agent; Ernesto Rodríguez, Miami International Airport; Javier Hidalgo, General Director for Globalia Group, Air Europa’s parent company and Nicolás Vallejo-Nágera, Spanish businessman and celebrity. Upon arrival at Miami, the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue gave the A330-200 a welcome.
- Air Europa launched a new service from Madrid (MAD) to Miami (MIA) on 19 March. The service, operating with 299-seat A330-200s, will be flown four times weekly, initially on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, but from 16 June, the Saturday service will be replaced with a Wednesday flight. The SkyTeam airline will be the third carrier to enter the route, competing with the two oneworld partners American Airlines and Iberia, which already fly once daily each. Javier Hidalgo, CEO of Air Europa’s parent Globalia Group, commented the launch: “We are thrilled to offer South Florida business and leisure travelers a new alternative to travel to Madrid and beyond. We are confident that once consumers try the comfort of our new planes and our incomparable customer and in-flight service, they will become frequent flyers of Air Europa.”
China Eastern takes over the route between Nanjing and Singapore – SIA will be withdrawing from the route a week later.
- China Eastern launched three weekly flights from Nanjing (NKG) to Singapore (SIN) on 20 March, using A319s. For one week, the route is operated in competition with Singapore Airlines’ two weekly 777-200 flights, however, the Star Alliance member then discontinues the route at the end of the winter season. Singapore is, along with Lufthansa’s service from Frankfurt, the only destination outside East Asia to be served from Nanjing.
Hainan Airlines third route to Bangkok: The new Hangzhou service was celebrated a week before the launch at the Hangzhou Yunxi Holiday Hotel.
- Hainan Airlines, featured in this week’s airline analysis, on 17 March launched services from Hangzhou (HGH) to Bangkok (BKK). The flights will operate twice-weekly, on Wednesdays and Sundays, using 737-800s. Hainan Airlines already serves Bangkok from Haikou on Hainan and Nanning, making Hangzhou the third such airport. Bangkok used to be linked with Hangzhou by China Eastern in the first half of the previous decade and was then taken over by Bangkok Airways, but the route was eventually dropped in late 2006, only to now be recommenced.
Philippine Airlines’ launch of flights from Brisbane was celebrated by a lot of happy people. We have no idea who they are, but they all seem to have a good time – no wonder with such a great new route!
- Philippine Airlines added a third Australian destination to its network on 18 March. The airline has served Melbourne five times weekly, with flights returning to Manila (MNL) via Sydney. Two of these weekly flights, operated with A330-300s, are now rerouted via Brisbane (BNE), making Philippine Airlines the Queensland airport’s 31st airline. Current O&D figures between the Philippines and Brisbane exceed 61,000 annually, according to the airport, which expects this figure to increase with the new service. Brisbane Airport Corporation’s CEO Julieanne Alroe commented: “Philippine Airlines coming to Brisbane indicates the growing popularity of the Asia Pacific region within the Brisbane market, which is why we are pleased to be able to provide maximum options in services and destinations for our passengers.”