Route of the Week:
Air Nigeria’s Lagos to Brazzaville
The send-off from Lagos: Air Nigeria’s CEO, Kinfe Kahssaye, seals the new route with a handshake with a future customer - Republic of Congo Ambassador to Nigeria, Entcha-Ebie Gabriel. They are flanked by Executive Vice-Chairman, Godwin Ize-Iyamu, and Director of Air Nigeria, Bishop Steven Ogedengbe
- Air Nigeria (known in recent years as Virgin Nigeria Airlines and, briefly, Nigeria Eagle Airlines) has begun serving Brazzaville (BZV) in the Republic of Congo from its base at Lagos (LOS). The daily service will operate either via Cotonou, or via Cotonou and Douala. The airline’s fleet currently consists of four 737-300s and two Embraer E-190s, though the fleet is expected to grow to 10 aircraft before the end of the year. Last month the airline re-launched domestic flights from Lagos to Benin City and Owerri bringing to five the number of domestic airports served. In addition it also serves eight other cities in eight other African countries. These are Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Accra (Ghana), Banjul (Gambia), Cotonou (Benin), Dakar (Senegal), Douala (Cameroon), Libreville (Gabon) and Monrovia (Liberia). The new owners of the airline (in which Virgin Atlantic still has a stake) plan to develop Lagos as a regional hub. The airline’s CEO Kinfe Kahssaye said last month that “Our regional operation is hinged on fostering and promoting existing economic and socio-cultural ties in Africa, especially by providing world class airline travel experience for passengers”. According to the Careers section of the airline’s website Country Co-Ordinators are currently being sought in Burkina Faso, Niger and Sierra Leone suggesting that these three countries may soon be joining the airline’s network.
Cake of the Week:
AirAsia X’s Kuala Lumpur to Delhi
Celebrating Cake of the Week, and Delhi services: Azran Osman Rani, CEO, Air Asia X, Suresh Nair, Regional Manager India, Air Asia X, Pradeep Panicker, CCO, Delhi International Airport, Kiran Jain, Head of Airline Marketing & Route Development, and Simon Ng – AISATS. Panicker later presents the Air Asia X CEO with a traditional commemorative certificate.
- AirAsia X has expanded its network to include Delhi (DEL) in India. Daily flights began this week from Kuala Lumpur (KUL). AirAsia X’s network now comprises Chengdu, Gold Coast, Hangzhou, London Stansted, Melbourne, Mumbai, Perth, Taipei and Tianjin. Flights to Seoul begin in November followed by twice-weekly flights to Tehran in December.
- Avianca has started daily flights from Bogota (BOG) to San Salvador (SAL) in El Salvador. Flights will operate daily with an A319. “With the launch of this new route, Avianca-TACA advances its primary purpose is to provide greater opportunities for American travellers on the routes connecting northern, central and southern America,” said Fabio Villegas Ramirez, Executive Chairman Company.
- The national airline of Belarus, Belavia, has added two further routes to its growing network from Minsk (MSQ). This week saw the launch of thrice-weekly flights to Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) and also twice-weekly flights to Tehran (IKA). Stockholm flights will be operated by a CRJ while Tehran services will see the assignment of one of the airline’s 737-500s. Belavia now operates non-stop from Minsk to 32 destinations. For a more detailed analysis of the carrier see this week’s Belavia airline profile.
- Mihin Lanka has added weekly (Wednesday) non-stop flights to Varanasi (VNS) to India from Colombo (CMB). This becomes the airline’s fifth destination after Dubai, Gaya, Kuwait and Tiruchirapalli. The low-cost carrier has been operating since April 2007 and now has a fleet of two A320s.
Celebrations on arrival in Ordos, Inner Mongolia.
- Shanghai Airlines has launched a new route between Shanghai Pudong (PVG) and Ordos (DSN) in Inner Mongolia. The route will operate daily using a 737-800 and will appeal to anyone who wants to visit this year’s Expo taking place in Shanghai. The inaugural flight to Ordos carried 49 passengers while the first return flight to Shanghai carried 153 passengers. Competition is provided by China Southern Airlines which operates daily services to Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport from Ordos via Zhengzhou. In 2009 Ordos airport handled 473,000 passengers, an increase of 54% on the previous year.
Australia’s “Newest Full Service Airline” heads out from Brisbane to Bali.
- Strategic Airlines is a relatively new scheduled airline based in Brisbane promoting itself as “Australia’s Newest Full Service Airline”. With a fleet of six A320s it has operated as a charter airline for a couple of years and is now expanding into scheduled services. Up to now it has operated from Derby in Western Australia to Perth with onward connections to Denpasar Bali. This week saw the launch of weekly flights from Brisbane (BNE) to Port Hedland (PHE) and then on to Denpasar Bali (DPS). Strategic Airlines’ head of commercial, Damian Vasta, said the Brisbane – Port Hedland route had opened up air travel between the east and west coasts of Australia with well-priced services and business class seating options. “Port Hedland miners who live in south-east Queensland or want to holiday here now have a comfortable, non-stop travel service available to them,” he said. “We also know that they have a strong interest in Bali as a holiday destination, as do Brisbane-based leisure traveller. Brisbane travellers flying to Bali with Strategic Airlines will have a turnaround time in Port Hedland of only 90 minutes, and their luggage will be checked through to Bali for their convenience.”
Members of the Mutitjulu community roll out the Astroturf for the arrival at Ayers Rock/Uluru. Regular Sydney services will be operated by Embraer E190.
- Virgin Blue this week introduced daily flights from Sydney (SYD) to Uluru (AYQ), the airport that serves the area around Ayers Rock. The route will normally be served by an Embraer E190 but the inaugural flight was operated by a 737-800 with industry guests, media and commercial customers which was farewelled by traditional indigenous didgeridoo players and dancers. On arrival in Uluru, the aircraft and indigenous crew members under the command of Captain Kali Bellear participated in an authentic Inma by members of the Mutitjulu community. Virgin Blue Group of Airlines Group Executive Commercial Liz Savage said the new service would bring increased competition on the route. “Our services will provide visitors the opportunity to choose Virgin Blue’s award winning service when visiting this iconic landmark. Uluru is the heartland of Australian indigenous culture. Our range of fares from $199* one way will ensure it not only becomes the must see destination for the international visitor, but more Australians will travel here too,” she said.