New routes launched during the last week
(Tuesday 12 – Monday 18 October)

Route of the Week:
Thai AirAsia’s Phuket to Ubon Ratchathani

We have no idea what this sign says, but at least we know this is the launch ceremony for Thai AirAsia's first flight to Ubon Ratchathani from Phuket, a great network increase for the airport in northeast Thailand which previously only offered flights to Bangkok. Departing passengers on the first flight were treated with traditional music in the check-in area and arriving passengers were greeted with goody bags.

  • Thai AirAsia launched a new domestic route on 12 October. From the island of Phuket (HKT) in the southwest of the country, the airline now flies to Ubon Ratchathani (UBP) in the easternmost part of Thailand, bordering Laos and Cambodia. Flights will operate three times a week with the airline’s 180-seat A320s. This is the first time ever that the two airports are connected. Other services to Ubon Ratchathani are currently all from Bangkok, including Thai AirAsia’s own services from the country capital. The last time another city was connected with Ubon Ratchathani was in 2003, when PBair operated flights to Da Nang in Vietnam.

Cake of the Week:
Air Arabia Maroc’s Casablanca to Alexandria

Cake and fireworks were on offer when Air Arabia Maroc connected its Casablanca base with sister airline Air Arabia Egypt’s base in Alexandria.

  • Air Arabia Maroc on 12 October connected two bases in the pan-Arabian LCC Air Arabia Group – Casablanca (CMN) and Alexandria Borg El Arab (HBE). If you think this sounds familiar, it is because we already announced this two weeks ago, but Air Arabia Maroc soon thereafter told us that the route had been postponed. 168-seat A320s will fly the route – the 12th destination in Air Arabia’s growing network from Morocco – three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The airline points out the possibility to connect in Alexandria to Air Arabia Egypt services to for example Abu Dhabi and Beirut.

The rest of this week’s new routes

Showgirl Stacy Shea and Elvis impersonator Tim Welch entertained Airport Commissioner Jim Davies and his wife Julie as Allegiant’s first flight to Quad City International Airport arrived. The new Las Vegas service will be complemented by flights from Phoenix/Mesa next month.

  • Allegiant Air added another destination to its network on 14 October, as it launched two weekly flights from its Las Vegas, NV (LAS) base to Moline/Quad Cities, IL (MLI). Allegient MD80 series aircraft will become increasingly common at the airport by the border between Illinois and Iowa, as the ultra-low cost carrier will launch a further route from Phoenix/Mesa a month later. Other carriers serving Quad Cities are regional services on American, Delta and United as well as flights on AirTran. At 2,215 kilometres, Allegiant’s new Las Vegas services becomes the longest route from the airport.
  • flydubai on 16 October launched flights to its first Russian destination. The airline now flies to Ekaterinburg (SVX), a distance of 3,525 kilometres north of the airline’s Dubai (DXB) base. The 5-hour 15-minute route is the airline’s longest and will operate twice a week with 189-seat 737-800s, competing with Ural Airlines’ three weekly flights. flydubai will expand further in Russia as it begins flying to Samara today. Ghaith Al Ghaith, flydubai’s CEO, commented: “Trade between Russia and the UAE has grown considerably in recent years and the addition of a direct air link with the commercially important city of Yekaterinburg will help strengthen the relationship between the two countries.”
  • Nasair, which now operates as Saudi Arabia’s sole LCC after Sama’s bankruptcy and is the subject of this week’s airline analysis, on 16 October launched four weekly flights between Riyadh (RUH) and Kozhikode (CCJ) in southwest India, using its 180-seat A320s. The airport – Nasair’s third in India – only offers domestic and Middle Eastern services and already has two airlines serving the route with widebody aircraft. Air India competes with five weekly flights and Saudi Arabian Airlines flies three times a week.

Sichuan Airlines’ new route to Taiwan was celebrated by designing this gorgeous new uniform for its equally gorgeous cabin crew.

  • Fast-expanding Sichuan Airlines on 18 October launched a weekly service across the Taiwan Strait. From Chengdu (CTU) in the west of mainland China, the airline now flies its 194-seat A321 aircraft to Taichung (RMQ) in Taiwan on Mondays. The airline already flies from Chengdu to the downtown airport in Taiwan’s capital city, Taipei Songshan.

Last week’s route launches

We have now had these beautifully purple pictures through from Qatar Airways’ arrival in Phuket. The route was inaugurated by Sutheep Sansiriphan, Phuket International Airport’s Deputy GM; Marwan Koleilat, Qatar Airways’ SVP Commercial East Asia & Southwest Pacific; and district officer Narunat Suphutprateep, representing the Phuket Governor’s office.

Other recent events

Visitors to Halifax Stanfield International Airportwere surprised by a sudden flash mob on 16 September. Dancing airport employees and their friends and family raised a breathtaking C$7,700 for the charity Breast Cancer Research after months of preparation. The event organiser, Marlene More, Executive Assistant Marketing & Business Development, tells “We’ve been FUNdraising (emphasis on the FUN) for almost a year through a pink walk-a-thon, ticket raffle and each participant in the dance paid a minimum of $10. And we were fortunate to have many generous donations from various stakeholders.” Jerry Staples, the airport’s VP Marketing and Business Development, continues: “We would very much like to see other airports take up the challenge to outperform us!”

Mexico’s vivaaerobus has launched a competition between four teams of each two contestants – all selected through social media – where the winners will win a car and 10 years of free flights (!). The contestants will now compete on various tasks all across Mexico.


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