Route of the Week:
China Eastern’s Kunming-Colombo-Malé
China Eastern’s landmark route called for celebrations attended by high-level officials. The chairman of China Eastern Airlines Yunnan Corporation, Li Yangmin; Sri Lanka’s ambassador to China, Karunatilaka Amunugama; the governor of Yunnan province, Qin Guangrong; the vice governor of Yunnan Province, Liu Ping; and the secretary of Yunnan Province, Ding Shaoxiang, activated the LED touch-start ball at the opening ceremony in Kunming. On arrival to Colombo, the governor was welcomed by Sri Lanka’s deputy external affairs minister Getthanjana Gunawardena and Alavi Moulana, governor of the Western Province.
- China Eastern Airlines became the first airline to link mainland China non-stop with Sri Lanka as it on 31 August launched flights between Kunming (KMG) in southwest China’s Yunnan Province and Malé (MLE) in the Maldives, operating via Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo (CMB). Flights operate three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, alternating between 767 and 737 equipment. The first flight only was operated with an A330 and went to Colombo only. The new route is the result of the Yunnan government investing 35% in a regional joint venture with China Eastern.
The rest of the last week’s new routes
- American Airlines’ American Eagle subsidiary on 24 August relaunched three daily flights between New York LaGuardia, NY (LGA) and Charlotte, NC (CLT) with CRJ700s. The airline used to operate flights on the route until November 2008. This is American’s fourth route to Charlotte, which it already serves from Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O’Hare and Miami. Competition on the new route comes from US Airways, which operates 85 weekly flights to LaGuardia out of its Charlotte hub. There is also indirect competition from Newark and JFK airports provided by Continental, Delta, jetBlue and US Airways.
- easyJet launched its second route to Tel Aviv (TLV) on 30 August, as the airline’s Swiss arm began operating out of Geneva (GVA). Following its first Israeli route from London Luton, which launched in November last year, the Geneva route will operate four times weekly, on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, with its single Geneva-based 183-seat A320. The flights compete with El Al’s also four weekly operations on the route.
Hainan Airlines’ first route to Singapore does not depart from its larger bases, but serves the city-state from Dalian via Hefei. Local officials held a ceremony for the new service, which will operate twice-weekly.
- Hainan Airlines launched its first route to Singapore (SIN) on 29 August, becoming the sixth Chinese airline to serve the airport. The route originates in Dalian (DLC) in northeast China and operates via Hefei (HFE) in the eastern part of the country. Neither airport has offered regular flights to Singapore in the past. The new service operates twice a week with 164-seat 737-800 aircraft.
- United Airlines launched a new service operated by SkyWest on 24 August. It now connects Los Angeles (LAX) with Houston (IAH), hub of its soon-to-be merged partner Continental. Flights operate on a daily basis with 66-seat CRJ700s, complementing the 63 flights a week operated by Continental (all with larger, mainline aircraft). Indirect competition is provided by Southwest, which serves Houston Hobby with 26 weekly flights.