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New airline routes launched (4 – 10 January 2011)

Route of the Week:
Alaska Airlines’ Bellingham to Honolulu

After David North, passenger and top elite tier member of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, cut the lei for the first flight from Bellingham to Honolulu, speeches were held by Alaska Airlines’ VP Marketing, Joe Sprague, and Charlie Sheldon, Executive Director, Port of Bellingham. The Hawaiian priest Aukai La'amaikahiki was also on site to sing his blessings for the new service, which got a lot of media coverage, including from  Seattle’s KOMO 4 TV  news.

  • Alaska Airlines expanded its Hawaiian network as the airline on 7 January launched a daily service between Bellingham, WA (BLI), which is located near the border to Canada and functions as a secondary airport for Vancouver, and Honolulu, HI (HNL). Flights operate with 157-seat 737-800 aircraft. This is Alaska Airlines’ second route at Bellingham, which it also serves from Las Vegas. “With roots in the Pacific Northwest spanning many decades, we’re delighted to kick off Bellingham’s first-ever nonstop service to Hawaii,” said Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines’ VP Marketing.

Cake of the Week:
Air France’s Paris CDG to Cologne/Bonn

The return of Air France to Cologne/Bonn was celebrated with an Arc de Triomphe cake and flower bouquets large enough to rival the cake itself. Celebrating were Beatrix Klein, Air France-KLM’s Manager Business Accounts; the flight attendant, captain and first officer; Claudia Leyendecker, Cologne Bonn Airport’s Manager Contracts and Quality; Christina Senfft von Pilsach, Air France-KLM’s Supervisor; and Cologne Bonn Airport’s Maike Wülbers, Manager Business Development, and Kerstin Schweitzer, Head of Business Development.

  • Air France expanded its German network as it connected its Paris CDG (CDG) hub with Cologne/Bonn (CGN) on 10 January. 46-seat ATR42 aircraft flown by Airlinair will initially operate 13 weekly flights, but an additional, third daily frequency is added on 7 February. Flights are scheduled to connect with Air France’s long haul banks at Charles de Gaulle. The new route makes Air France the fifth flag carrier to serve Cologne/Bonn, after Lufthansa, KLM, Austrian and Turkish Airlines. With the exception of a hiatus in the early 1980s, Air France used to operate the route for decades before suspending it in November 2001. Michael Garvens, Cologne/Bonn Airport’s chairman, welcomed back the carrier: “Air France is back in Cologne/Bonn and we are delighted that after almost ten years one of the largest and most renowned airlines is resuming flights from Cologne/Bonn.”

The rest of this week’s new routes

Air Southwest’s customer service agents Mike Kyle and Jacqui Brasher welcomed the airline to the Welsh capital Cardiff. Newquay’s status as the British surfing capital was emphasised as the airline seeks to attract Welsh surfers with the new service.

  • Air Southwest, the British regional carrier, launched a new route from its Newquay (NQY) base in Cornwall, southwest England, on 4 January. The airline now serves Cardiff (CWL), the capital of Wales, five times weekly with its 50-seat Q300 aircraft. The route is a mere 160 kilometres, but crosses the Bristol Channel. The airline used to operate the route in 2007 and Isles of Scilly Skybus flew it in 2008, but the route has remained unserved since.
  • ANA, All Nippon Airways, returned to the Indonesian market on 7 January when the Star Alliance airline resumed daily services to Jakarta (CGK) from its Tokyo Narita (NRT) hub. Flights operate with 767-300ER aircraft and compete with Garuda Indonesia’s and JAL’s each also daily flights. The airline last operated the same route in 1998, however, it last served Indonesia in 2001, when it operated flights between Osaka Kansai and Denpasar/Bali.
Celebrating the new route from London City to Stockholm Arlanda

Celebrating the new route from London City to Stockholm Arlanda with the British Airways crew was the airline’s Sharyn Roake, Bernard Lavelle, London City Airport’s Sales Director, and Luke Hayhoe, British Airways’ Commercial Manager. The route was previously served by SAS, but dropped in 2009.

  • British Airways launched two European services in the last week. From London City (LCY), the airline launched 11 weekly flights to Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) with its 98-seat BA CityFlyer E-190s on 9 January, as anna.aero reported on in October. The route was last served by SAS, which served the airport pairs 2006-2009. From London Heathrow (LHR), BA on 10 January began flying to Paris Orly (ORY) twice a day with A320 series aircraft. Meanwhile, the airline reduces its previous nine daily frequencies to Paris CDG to eight and competitor Air France also reduces frequencies from eight daily to seven. As a result, the seat capacity between London Heathrow and Paris is up by less than 1%, i.e. almost unchanged, compared to early December capacity.
Birendra Bahadur Basnet, Buddha Air’s managing director

Birendra Bahadur Basnet, Buddha Air’s managing director, and Sharat Singh Bhandari, Nepal’s minister for tourism and civil aviation, were joined by a government official at a specially arranged press conference to mark the launch of the new service between Kathmandu and Lucknow.

  • Buddha Air, the Nepalese carrier that only launched international flights last August when it broke the Drukair monopoly in Bhutan, added its second international route on 7 January, when the airline launched three weekly flights between its Kathmandu (KTM) base and Lucknow (LKO) in northern India. The 450-kilometre route is operated with ATR42 aircraft.
  • China Southern relaunched its service from Ürümqi (URC) in the northwest of China to Khujand (LBD), the second-largest city in Tajikistan. As of 4 January, flights operate once a week with 737-700 aircraft. The airline continuously operated the route between October 2008 and November 2010, when the route was dropped, only to return now two months later. This is the only service between China and Khujand.
  • Continental on 4 January expanded its Cleveland, OH (CLE) hub as it resumed an intra-state route to Cincinnati, OH (CVG) under its Continental Connection brand. 19 weekly flights are operated with CommutAir’s 37-seat Q200 aircraft, which reinstate the route operated by the airline between 1992 and 2008. Competition on the route comes from Delta’s 13 weekly flights.
  • Delta Air Lines launched two new routes in the last week. From Santa Ana, CA (SNA), the airline launched six weekly flights to Las Vegas, NV (LAS) on 4 January. The route, which is operated in competition with Southwest’s 53 flights a week, is served with 124-seat 737-700 aircraft. On 8 January, the airline also launched a weekly service between Memphis, TN (MEM) and Mexico City (MEX) using its 126-seat A319s. The Mexican capital has never previously been served from Memphis, but the Tennessee airport. The airline does, however, already serve the Mexican coastal resort Cancun. “For this service to succeed over the long term it is critical that Memphis travelers support the new Mexico City route,” said Steve Sear, Delta’s VP Global Sales. “We are proud to continue to invest in the Memphis market and look to our Memphis customers to ensure our success.”
  • easyJet launched a ski route between Liverpool (LPL) and Grenoble (GNB) on 8 January. Flights operate twice a week with 156-seat A319s and reinstate services between the two airports, which were served by Ryanair between 2006 and last year.
  • flydubai continued its fast expansion and launched its second Saudi Arabian destination on 7 January. Out of its Dubai (DXB) base, the airline now flies its 189-seat 737-800s six times weekly to Yanbu (YNB). This is the only international route to the airport serving the Red Sea port city near Medina, although AlMasria Universal Airlines last year served Yanbu from Cairo.
  • Frontier on 8 January launched a weekly service between Milwaukee, WI (MKE) and Tucson, AZ (TUS). Flights are operated seasonally until 16 April with Republic Airlines’ 99-seat E-190s, becoming Frontier’s second route to Tucson after Denver.

Tying the ribbon are Nasser Al Salmi, Gulf Air’s COO; Maher Al Musallam, Gulf Air’s Deputy CEO; Mehdi Aghajafari, Iranian Ambassador to Bahrain; and Abdulrahman Al Gaoud, Undersecretary for Bahrain Civil Aviation Affairs, before the first flight for Isfahan took off from Bahrain.

  • Gulf Air expanded its network to Iran as it launched three weekly flights from its Bahrain (BAH) hub to Isfahan (IFN), Iran’s second-largest city located 350 kilometres south of the country capital Tehran, on 6 January. The route, which is Gulf Air’s fourth to Iran, is operated with 67-seat E-170 aircraft. Speaking at a press conference in Isfahan on the day of the inaugural flight, Gulf Air’s CEO Samer Majali said: “We chose Isfahan for many reasons; it is one of the major niche markets that is yet to be adequately served. From fine carpets to exquisite handicrafts, from quintessential culture to traditional Islamic architecture, to historic holy sites- it is a great tourist destination waiting to be explored but is increasingly being spotted by discerning travelers.”
  • LAN Airlines, the only operator to Easter Island (IPC), expanded its route network to the remote South Pacific Island on 5 January. The airline now flies twice a week from Lima (LIM), the capital of Peru, with 221-seat 767-300ER aircraft. For decades, the only services on the island have been on LAN Airlines (previously LAN Chile) from Santiago de Chile, with some frequencies continuing to Papeete in French Polynesia.
  • Ryanair launched three new routes in the last week, all on 10 January. From Barcelona (BCN), a daily domestic service was launched to Valladolid (VLL) in the north-central part of the country, competing with Iberia’s 25 weekly flights on the route. The low-cost airline also continued launching flights to Tallinn (TLL), now from the UK as both Edinburgh (EDI) and London Luton (LTN) got each three weekly flights to the Estonian capital.
  • SA Express launched a new domestic service within South Africa on 10 January as it began flying between Durban (DUR) and Cape Town (CPT). The 19 weekly 50-seat CRJ200 flights are launched as South African Airways pulled out of the route in October last year and let it be served by its low-cost subsidiary Mango. Competition comes from Mango’s 27, Comair’s 22, 1time’s 18 and Kulula.com’s seven weekly flights.

A press conference was held for TACA Peru’s new service to Antofagasta at the northern Chilean city’s hotel Terrado Suites. Italo Guerinoni, TACA’s Country Manager Chile (second from left), met with representatives of the local authorities and spoke to the gathered press.

  • TACA Peru launched three weekly flights from its Lima (LIM) base to Antofagasta (ANF), the coastal mining city in northern Chile, on 4 January. 96-seat E-190s are used on the 1,450-kilometre route. The service competes with Sky Airline’s five weekly flights and is the only international route at Antofagasta.

Turkish Airlines’ AnadoluJet aircraft was welcomed to Agri, an airport that again offers scheduled services. The airline now offers a daily connection to the city in the easternmost part of Turkey from its expanding Istanbul hub. Turkey's transport minister Binali Yıldırım joined the celebrations and spoke to dignitaries that included Turkish Airlines’ CEO Dr Temel Kotil.

  • Turkish Airlines, the fast-expanding airline analysed last week, relaunched a domestic service on 6 January. Out of the Star Alliance airline’s Istanbul Atatürk (IST) hub, daily 150-seat 737-400 flights are now operated to Agri (AJI) in the easternmost part of the country, near the Iranian border. The airport has been without scheduled commercial services since 2009 when Turkish Airlines dropped its routes from Istanbul and Ankara. In the meantime, the runway has been upgraded.
  • United launched a seasonal ski service out of Houston, TX (IAH), the hub of its soon to be merged partner Continental, on 4 January. Daily flights are now operated to Aspen, CO (ASE), with SkyWest’s 66-seat CRJ700s under the United Express brand. Flights operate until 2 April.

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