New routes launched during the last week (Tuesday 5 – Monday 11 October):
Route of the Week: RAK Airways’ Ras al-Khaimah to Kozhikode and Jeddah
Free bus tickets from other cities in the UAE to Ras al-Khaimah Airport are included in ticket prices on the relaunched RAK Airways. The airline now flies to both Kozhikode in India and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Celebrating the launch of Jeddah flights were the airline’s chairman Sheikh Omar Bin Saqr Al Qassimi and vice chairman Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qassimi, before being joined by CEO Omar Jahameh and officials in cutting the cake.
RAK Airways relaunched operations on 10 October. The national airline of Ras al-Khaimah, the northernmost emirate of the UAE, then began flying from its Ras al-Khaimah (RKT) base to Kozhikode (CCJ) in southwest India and Jeddah (JED) in Saudi Arabia. Each of the two routes operates four times a week with the airline’s single 737-400 aircraft. The airline previously operated between 2006 and 2009, but now has relaunched under new management.
Cake of the Week:
SpiceJet’s Chennai to Colombo
As SpiceJet launched flights from Chennai to Colombo, its second international route, an impressive cake with a clear message was baked to celebrate the event. The crew got so much in a party mood that the male cabin attendants got their ‘Saturday Night Fever’ shirts on.
A traditional lamp lighting ceremony took place in Delhi, celebrating SpiceJet’s first international route. The ribbon was then cut to open check in for the first flight to Kathmandu. The officials attending the ceremony were Dayanidhi Maran, Union Minister at Ministry of Textiles; Praful Patel, Minister of Civil Aviation; and Bhulo Kansagra, Promoter & Director at SpiceJet. On arrival in Nepalese capital, a press conference was held by Samyukth Sridharan, CCO; Bhulo Kansagra; Kishore Gupta, Director; and Joy Diwan, MD Zenith Travels.
SpiceJet, the Indian low-cost carrier analysed two weeks ago , reached an important point in its development as it launched international flights in the last week, starting with two routes of intense competition. The airline, which meets the Indian criteria for operating international services by having flown for five years domestically and having a fleet of over 20 aircraft, as of 7 October flies from Delhi (DEL) to Kathmandu (KTM) in Nepal. Flights operate six times a week with 189-seat 737-800s. Two days later, on 9 October, the airline launched another international route as it began flying from Chennai (MAA) to Colombo (CMB) in Sri Lanka. Both routes face competition from each six airlines with frequencies ranging from daily to twice-daily.
The rest of this week’s new routes
AirTran launched a new route out of its Milwaukee, WI (MKE) base on 7 October. The airline, which is set to be bought by Southwest, began flying daily to New Orleans, LA (MSY), which it already serves from both Atlanta and Baltimore/Washington. Flights operate with the airline’s 117-seat 717s and notably are the first ever non-stop link between the two cities.
Allegiant arrived at Pueblo on its first flight from Las Vegas. Notably, the low-cost MD80 operator already flies to Colorado Springs, just up the road from Pueblo.
Allegiant launched three new routes, each operating twice a week with its MD80 aircraft, in the last week. On 7 October, the airline launched a service from Las Vegas, NV (LAS) to Pueblo, CO (PUB), 60 kilometres south of Colorado Springs, which the airline already serves from Las Vegas. Flights three weekly flights to Colorado Springs. On 8 October, the airline launched a service between Long Beach, CA (LGB) and Idaho Falls, ID (IDA). Notably, this service replaces the airline’s Idaho Falls service from Los Angeles International Airport, 30 kilometres from Long Beach. From Phoenix/Mesa (AZA), the airline launched flights to Fort Collins, CO (FNL), an airport that the airline already serves from Las Vegas.
ArkeFly, TUI’s Dutch leisure airline, launched a new long haul route out of Amsterdam (AMS) on 5 October. The airline now flies weekly to Goa (GOI) in India, before heading on to the Sri Lankan capital Colombo (CMB). Using 272-seat 767-300ER aircraft, the airline adds Goa as a new destination from Amsterdam, however, Colombo was last served from Schiphol Airport non-stop by Martinair in 2007 and SriLankan Airlines operated the route in the late 90s.
Gulf Air’s new five-weekly flights from Bahrain to Colombo reinstate services on the route after SriLankan Airlines dropped its flights only the previous month. The first flight was seen off by executives from Bahrain Civil Aviation Authority, Bahrain Airport Company and Gulf Air, including the airline’s CEO Samer Majali.
Gulf Air on 5 October resumed services between Bahrain (BAH) and Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo (CMB). The airline first launched the route in 1976 and operated until 2002, as well as a few later seasonal flights, the last of which operated in January 2005. Now, Gulf Air returns with five weekly flights aboard 136-seat A320s, reinstating flights between the two airports after SriLankan Airlines dropped its services as recently as September. Gulf Air’s CEO Samer Majali commented: “Now that peace has returned, I am glad the time has come for us to re-connect with Sri Lanka. The country is back in full action with its economy springing back to its dynamic past. I personally see there is a huge business and tourism opportunity for both countries as we recommence services.”
A Pegasus aircraft cake was baked to celebrate the Turkish low-cost carrier’s arrival to the Georgian capital Tbilisi with daily flights from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen.
Pegasus Airlines on 9 October launched a new daily service between Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (SAW) and Tbilisi (TBS), the capital of Georgia, the airline’s first destination in the Caucasus. Indirect competition on the 1,300-kilometre route comes from Turkish Airlines’ two daily flights from Istanbul Atatürk.
Qatar Airways on 11 October began serving the Thai island of Phuket (HKT), making it the first ‘MEB3’ airline to serve the airport. The flights from the airline’s Doha (DOH) hub operate via the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur (KUL). Initially, the airline begins with a frequency of six weekly flights, but by the start of the winter season, this increases to daily. The airline will use both A330-200 and -300 aircraft on the route.
October 13 - the official launch of Orlando dailies from both Los Angeles and San Francisco: Orange County Florida Mayor Richard T. Crotty, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Virgin America CEO David Cush listen to a famous Englishman who is not Simon Cowell. Photo credit: Virgin America/Bob Riha Jnr.
Virgin America on 7 October launched daily flights to Orlando, FL (MCO) from both Los Angeles, CA (LAX) and San Francisco, CA (SFO). 149-seat A320s will be deployed on both routes. The San Francisco route was previously a monopoly for United Airlines’ also daily flights, while Virgin American faces competition from three other airlines on its flights from Los Angeles to Orlando. Delta flies 12 times a week, while United and American each fly daily. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer acknowledged the economic imapact of the new services: “Virgin America’s daily nonstop flights from Orlando to San Francisco and Los Angeles further strengthen our position as the world’s premier vacation destination. Equally important, these connections to the West Coast give our residents more flight options, help us attract new companies to Orlando and help fuel the continued diversification of Central Florida’s economy.”
Previous weeks’ new route launches
Hawaiian Airlines on 3 October launched two weekly flights, on Mondays and Thursdays, between Kahului, HI (OGG) on the island of Maui and Las Vegas, NV (LAS). The 767-300 service is the airline’s second to Las Vegas, which it already serves from Honolulu as of 2003. The last airline to have operated the new route was ATA Airlines, which flew between the two airports until its demise in 2008.
Pisa Airport celebrated five years as a Ryanair base yesterday, on 12 October. Ryanair has committed to Galileo Galilei Airport, the largest airport in Tuscany, as a continued base for the airline until 2016. Cutting the celebratory cake were Michael Cawley, COO and deputy chief executive of Ryanair, and Gina Giani, CEO Pisa Airport. Joining them were Salvatore Sanzo, tourism representative of Pisa Province, Marco Filippeschi, mayor of Pisa, and Costantino Cavallaro, chairman Pisa Airport.
An open day was held at Chisinau International Airport on 3 October. Citizens of the Moldovan capital were given access to aircraft put on display and the national carrier Air Moldova flew its two A320s past the gathered spectators.