Route of the Week:
Kenya Airways’ Nairobi to Luanda
Kenya’s Assistant Minister to the East African Community, Peter Munya, and Angola’s Ambassador to Tanzania, Ambrosio Lukoki, arrived in Luanda on Kenya Airways’ first flight. The ribbon cutting was followed by colourful celebrations themed on African nations for the new link between the two countries – the first in over a decade.
In conjunction with the new route, Kenya Airways’ CEO Titus Naikuni and TAAG Angola Airlines’ deputy CEO Rui Carrera signed a code share agreement.
- Kenya Airways launched a service from its Nairobi (NBO) hub to Angola’s capital Luanda (LAD) on 17 August. Flights operate in code-share cooperation with TAAG Angola Airlines twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, with 145-seat 737-800s. This is the first time the two capital cities are linked since Air Gabon dropped the route in 1999, having operated the sector en-route to Libreville. Luanda is Kenya Airways’ 50th destination globally and 41st in Africa, which led the airline to offer a special US$50 fare on the inaugural flight. Titus Naikuni, Kenya Airways’ Group MD and CEO, also stated that the airline is helping passengers process visas to Angola in view of the fact that Kenya does not have an Angolan embassy.
Cake of the Week:
Horizon Air’s Los Angeles to San Jose
The first passengers on Horizon’s new route between Los Angeles and San Jose were made to feel very special as they were treated with hors d'ouvres, coffee – and a three-tier cake. The bottom layer symbolises LA, while the middle tier shows San Jose landmarks. Glenn Johnson, the airline’s new president, was on site to cut the ribbon…and maybe taste the cake.
- Horizon Air, Alaska Airlines’ regional subsidiary, on 23 August entered the intra-California high-frequency route between Los Angeles (LAX) and San Jose (SJC) in the Silicon Valley. Its 27 weekly Q400 flights compete with Southwest’s 64, American Eagle’s 41 and United Express’ 21. Andrew Harrison, Alaska’s VP planning and revenue management, commented on the connection opportunities in LA: “With four roundtrip flights a day between San Jose and Los Angeles, our customers will benefit from more convenient international connections to Asia, Australia, Europe, Mexico, and Central and South America.”
The rest of the week’s new routes
At the press conference for the launch of Buddha Air’s new service between Kathmandu and Paro in Bhutan, which until now has been a monopoly airport for Drukair, it was announced that the airline is planning to make use of fifth freedom rights and in the future operate flights from Paro to Bagdogra in India.
- The Nepalese airline Buddha Air launched its first international destination on 23 August. From its Kathmandu (KTM) base, the airline now flies to fellow Himalayan country Bhutan’s spectacular and only commercial airport in Paro (PBH). The airline will operate 18-seat Beechcraft 1900Ds, initially four times weekly, but increasing to daily already from 1 September, when a new air services agreement will take effect. This is the first time in decades that any airline but Bhutan’s own national carrier Drukair operates into the particularly challenging Paro Airport. Drukair also provides competition on the route, flying five times weekly with its A319s and ATR42.
The new Brunei route called for celebrations in Manila. Cutting the ribbon are Candice Iyog, CEB VP Marketing and Distribution, and Brunei’s Ambassador to the Philippines, Malai Halimah Yussof. Also on site were Florencio Montalbo, Manila Airport Terminal Manager; Antonio Bautista, Manila International Airport Authority Senior Asst GM; Ambassador Alexander Yano; Guillermo Leonardo, Department of Transportation; Mark Breen, CEB Chief Operations Adviser; and Antonio Jose Rodriguez, CEB VP Airport Services.
- Cebu Pacific became the fifth airline to serve the small oil-rich sultanate of Brunei (BWN) on 21 August, when the airline launched two weekly flights from Manila (MNL) with its 156-seat A319s. Other airlines serving the airport are AirAsia, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and the national carrier Royal Brunei Airlines. The latter also competes with Cebu Pacific on the new route, flying eight times a week.
Officials were delighted to welcome China Eastern to Korla. The first flight achieved an impressive load factor of 100%. The pilots were welcomed with white scarves, a traditional fashion for the region.
- China Eastern Airlines launched a new route to northwest China on 20 August. From Shijiazhuang (SJW) in the northeast, the airline flies via Xian (XIY) to Korla (KRL), located approximately 200 kilometres from Ürümqi. Flights operate on Tuesdays and Fridays with 737 aircraft. Other services to Korla are currently only regional services within Xinjiang region.
No launch celebrations were held for Korean Air’s new route to Irkutsk, but on 30 July, a presentation day was held, attended by 300 local travel agents and media representatives.
- Korean Air launched its fourth Russian destination on 22 August, when it began flying between Seoul Incheon (ICN) and Irkutsk (IKT) in the Russian Far East, by the Baikal Lake close to the border to Mongolia. The airline, which already serves Moscow, St Petersburg and Vladivostok, now operates the new route seasonally twice a week with 737-800s until 28 October. The airline has operated the route as a charter service in the past and it was a scheduled route flown by S7 between 2002 and 2006.
- Shandong Airlines on 21 August launched a new service between the coastal city of Yantai (YNT) in northeast China and Wuhan (WUH), central China’s largest city. Flights operate daily with CRJ200LR aircraft. The route has been operated by China Eastern in the past, but the airline suspended the route in March this year.
Spring Airlines’ chairman Wang Zhenghua held a press conference about the two routes that launched out of Shenyang on the same day. Passengers on the two flights were also greeted with a banner.
- The Chinese low-cost A320 operator Spring Airlines launched two new routes out of Shenyang (SHE) in the northeast of the country on 21 August. The airline now serves Xian (XIY) daily, competing with China Southern’s also daily flights and Shenzhen Airlines’ six flights a week. The airline also began flying daily to Chengdu (CTU) in the southwest, stopping en route in Shijiazhuang (SJW). On the first sector, from Shenyang to Shijiazhuang, China Express Airlines’ also daily flights compete, while on the second sector to Chengdu, competing flights are operated by China Eastern and Hebei Airlines, each daily, as well as Sichuan Airlines six times a week and by Chengdu Airlines twice-weekly.
- VIM Airlines launched a new route from its Moscow Domodedovo (DME) base on 20 August. The airline now serves Baku (GYD), the capital of Azerbaijan, with two weekly flights. This is the airline’s third destination in the Caucasus nation, where the 757-200 operator also serves Ganja and Lankaran. Direct competition on the new route comes from Azerbaijan Airlines, Ural Airlines and S7 that serve the route 19, four and three times weekly respectively. From Moscow Sheremetyevo, Aeroflot flies 14 times a week and from Moscow Vnukovo, UTair operates three weekly flights to Baku.
A full planeload was welcomed to Longyan Airport by the local government of Liancheng County. The chairman of Xiamen Airlines, Hong Disheng, and the vice general manager, Zhao Dong, were on site with colleagues and local officials to attend the ceremony.
- Xiamen Airlines on 18 August resumed the 300-kilometre route between Fuzhou (FOC) and Longyan (LCX), both located in Fujian province in southwest China. Flights operate four times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, with 737 equipment. The airline previously used to operate the route between December 2006 and October 2007, but has not served Longyan from any airport since. The flight originates in Beijing before flying the new intra-Fujian sector. Zhao Dong, Xiamen Airlines’ vice general manager, stated that the route is an answer to President Hu Jingtao’s wish to promote the economic and social development of the underdeveloped western part of Fujiang province, where there used to be a revolutionary base of the ruling communist party in the civil war and the ‘War of Resistance Against Japan’.
Other celebrations in the last week
Ryanair and Leeds Bradford International Airport were represented at Ladies Day at The Ebor Festival, York Races with this outfit designed by Leeds fashion graduate Mandy Hudson.
Celebrations were due when American Eagle moved over to the new Regional Commuter Facility in Miami’s North Terminal. Cutting the ribbon are George Hazy, AA SVP Customer Service; Pedro Fabregas, President Executive Air; Peter Dolara, AA SVP Miami; José Abreu, Miami-Dade Aviation Department Director; Ricky Deane, MD American Eagle, Miami; and Marilyn DeVoe, AA VP Airport Services, Miami.