New routes launched during the last week (Tuesday 7 – Monday 13 September):
Route of the Week:
Delta’s New York JFK to San Antonio
San Antonio’s mayor Julian Castro and San Antonio Airport System’s aviation director Frank R. Miller greeted passengers for Delta’s first daily flight to JFK. The 2,550-kilometre route is operated with 124-seat A319s.
Delta Air Lines launched eight routes in the last week, six of which are resumptions. Both Las Vegas (LAS) originating routes, the only of the week’s new Delta routes not to be launched on 7 September, have been operated in the past. Hartford (BDL) was served in 2006, while Boston (BOS) flights operated until 2008. Delta has also flown between New York JFK (JFK) and San Antonio (SAT), but dropped services in 2006, while LaGuardia (LGA) to Nashville (BNA) was suspended two years earlier. Both routes from the former Northwest hubs Detroit (DTW) and Minneapolis/St Paul (MSP) have been operated by the predecessor airline in the past. The Chattanooga (CHA) route was operated until 2008, while the Lexington (LEX) route was dropped in 2006. Suitably, Delta’s service between JFK and Santa Ana, CA (SNA) becomes the Orange County airport’s 20th route just as its Thomas F. Riley Terminal celebrates its 20th anniversary.
easyJet launched four new routes in the last week as a result of the arrival of its 10th A319 based at Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG). On 10 September, daily services launched to both Copenhagen (CPH), in competition with Air France’s 35 weekly flights and SAS’ 25 flights a week, and Brest (BES), the port city in north-western France and the largest airport in Brittany, which faces competition from Air France three daily flights (plus a further six flights a day from Paris Orly). The domestic service is a six-hour car journey or 4.5 hours by train. The new A319 also operates once a day on the airline’s already existing services to Toulouse (TLS). From there, four days a week, the aircraft continues on a new route to Lisbon (LIS), while the other three weekly flights – launched a day later, on 11 September – are to Rome Fiumicino (FCO). The flights to the Portuguese capital face TAP Portugal’s 14 flights a week, while the Italian capital already is served daily by Air France.
The rest of this week’s new routes
Blue1’s 717 and its crew were given a warm welcome to the Star Alliance hub Munich, just in time for Finns to travel to the ‘Oktoberfest’ celebrations. In opening the new route, the ribbon held by Munich Airport’s dirndl ladies Maria Kern and Anna Fritz was cut by Juha Järvinen, Blue1’s VP Commercial; Elisabeth Milton-Hemmingsen, SAS’ GM Central Europe; Oliver Dersch, Munich Airport’s Director Traffic Development; and a member of the Blue1 cabin crew, while the rest of the crew and the airline’s VP Communications Tom Christides (holding the scissor box) looked on.
Blue1, the Finnish SAS Group subsidiary, made use of its recently delivered 120-seat 717s and launched a service from its Helsinki (HEL) base to Munich (MUC), its second German destination after Berlin Tegel, which launched in March this year. Flights operate daily as of 13 September. Competition comes from fellow Star Alliance member Lufthansa’s 21 weekly flights and Finnair’s 12 flights a week.
China Eastern on 10 September launched a new route together with its soon-to-be merged partner Shanghai Airlines (see below). From Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA), Shanghai’s city airport, the airline now flies daily to Hong Kong (HKG) with 298-seat A330-300s. Shanghai Airlines (below) will operate with the same frequency. Next week, Dragonair will launch flights with the same frequency and at the end of October, Hong Kong Airlines also launches daily flights.
Conviasa, the Venezuelan state-owned carrier, on 13 September launched a weekly service between its Caracas (CCS) base and Madrid (MAD). The aircraft then continues to Damascus, a destination previously served non-stop from Caracas (en-route to Tehran). Conviasa supposedly operates the route with 767 equipment, although the airline does not list such an aircraft as part of its fleet. The new flights to the Spanish capital compete with Spanish airlines Iberia (daily flights) and Air Europa (five flights a week) as well as the fellow Venezuelan airline Santa Barbara Airlines, which flies the route six times a week.
Stephen Ferris, the Ulster and Ireland rugby player, was on Manx2.com’s first flight between Belfast City and Cork. The route was also celebrated by Noel Hayes, chairman of Manx2.com, who had a pint of Murphy’s stout brewed in Cork, while Katy Best, business development director at Belfast City Airport, presented an Ulster fry. Accompanying them is none other than Miss Northern Ireland, Lori Moore.
Manx2.com, the Isle of Man-based virtual airline, on 8 September launched another Irish route. The airline now flies 11 times a week between Belfast City (BHD) and Cork (ORK) using a 19-seat Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner. The same route used to be operated by Aer Arann, but was dropped as recently as at the end of August. The airline is now moving its Belfast operations from Belfast International to Belfast City as Ryanair announced it is pulling out of the city airport.
Qantas on 7 September expanded its network to Port Hedland (PHE) in northwest Australia by adding a weekly service from Melbourne (MEL), a distance of 3,175 kilometres. The Tuesday flights are operated with 168-seat 737-800s and complement the airline’s 25 weekly Perth services.
Shanghai Airlines was the second airline to launch flights between Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA) and Hong Kong (HKG) on 10 September. Like China Eastern (see above), the airline flies daily, but with 164-seat 737-800s.
Southwest on 7 September entered a route that only last week was launched by jetBlue. The airline now also flies daily between Phoenix, AZ (PHX) and Boston, MA (BOS) using 137-seat 737-700s. This becomes the airline’s sixth route into Boston. In addition to jetBlue’s competing daily service, US Airways flies three times a day on the route. Southwest also already serves both Providence, RI (PVD) and Manchester, NH (MHT) from Phoenix, each at a distance of only 70-80 kilometres from Boston Logan.
Other celebrations in the last week
This impressive cake of a Venetian gondola and a Venice vista marked the announcement of CCM Airlines’ services from Marseille to Venice (thrice-weekly) and Florence (twice-weekly), which launch on 14 February.
The richest nun in Rome? A fantastically generous (saintlike?) Michael O’Leary (centre) was on site at Rome Ciampino to celebrate Ryanair’s 100-millionth passenger to and from Italy; Sister Nubia Pena Lozano (right), who was joined at the airport by Sister Matgorzata Mazur (left). Sister Nubia gets a cash prize of no less than €10,000 (or one million euro cents, as it also can be expressed)!
Ryanair also celebrated its 3-millionth passenger at Leeds Bradford. Katarina Radonakova, a Dublin accountant who regularly flies on business to Yorkshire, was welcomed by Tony Hallwood of LBIA and Laszlo Tamas of Ryanair.
Virgin Blue celebrated its 10th anniversary and Sir Richard Branson took the opportunity to show off some dance moves with Australian dance group the Tap Dogs as well as singer Delta Goodrem and a good few of the airline’s crew. Group CEO John Borghetti settled for more conservative movements and hand-clapping. See the video below for full footage.