Route of the Week:
Qatar Airways’ Doha to Bucharest and Budapest
The cake to celebrate the arrival of Qatar Airways to Romania was cut by Salem Abdullah Al Jaber, Qatar’s Ambassador to Romania; Anca-Daniela Boagiu, Romanian Transport Minister; Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways’ CEO, and Elena Udrea, Romanian Tourism Minister.
In Budapest, the cake was cut by Rola Obeid, Qatar Airways’ Country Manager Eastern Europe; László Szabó, Hungarian Ambassador to Qatar; Jost Lammers, CEO Budapest Airport; Akbar Al Baker, CEO Qatar Airways; Mubarak Rashid Al Boanin, Qatari Ambassador to Hungary; Attila Márton, the Hungarian government’s aviation commissioner; and Paul Johannes, Qatar Airways’ VP Commercial Europe. Lammers and Márton then tried the aircraft together with Al Baker.
- Qatar Airways on 17 January expanded its European network as it launched a new service from its Doha (DOH) hub to Bucharest (OTP), continuing onward to Budapest (BUD). This makes Qatar Airways the first ‘MEB3’ carrier to serve Romania and Hungary. The two capital cities are connected with the Qatar Airways network in Doha four times weekly with 144-seat A320 aircraft. Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker said: “We have spent a great deal of time analysing new routes and business opportunities and I am more than pleased to say that for Qatar Airways entering into this region of Europe was a great decision.” Commenting on the stopping service, Al Baker continued: “Qatar Airways has already seen strong forward bookings for Budapest and we will be seriously considering boosting our operations in the near future as we acquire more aircraft.” Jost Lammers, CEO Budapest Airport, said: “We have been talking with Middle Eastern airlines for some time and are extremely pleased that Qatar Airways, a renowned prestigious carrier, is the first to recognise the potential this region offers. Until now local passengers wishing to travel to the Middle East or further on to Asia and Australia, have had to back-track to the major western European hubs.”
Cake of the Week:
Ryanair’s Porto to Rome Ciampino
Cheerfulness, orange juice and cake was on offer for the first departure from Porto to Rome Ciampino with Ryanair. Ryanair’s crew member Luis celebrated together with Paula Barbosa from Porto Airport’s Aviation Marketing department. The cake portrays the two cities’ landmarks – Rome’s Colosseum and Porto’s Clerigos Tower.
Ryanair’s new domestic route from Trapani in Sicily to Cuneo by the Alps was celebrated by the northern Italian airport. On site were Mr Bonino, Vice President; Mr Botto, President; Anna Milanese, Commercial & Marketing Manager; Mr Dardanello, President of Italian Chambers of Commerce and Cuneo Chamber of Commerce; and Mr Sabbatini, airport board member.
- Ryanair launched four new routes in the last week with its 189-seat 737-800s. From Porto (OPO) in northern Portugal, the airline began flying twice a week to Rome Ciampino (CIA) on 11 January. Indirect competition comes from TAP Portugal’s daily flights to Rome Fiumicino. From its Trapani (TPS) base, which is analysed this week, the ultra-low cost airline launched three domestic routes to the north of Italy. The Sicilian airport is now connected each three times weekly with Parma (PMF) and Verona (VRN) as of 12 January and on 15 January, the airline launched two weekly flights to Cuneo (CUF).
The rest of this week’s new routes
Air China’s route expansion did not go unnoticed. A huge banner was made to welcome the ‘Pink Peony’ logojet 737-800 to Guangyuan.
- Air China on 11 January, ahead of the Chinese New Year, launched a new route from Guangzhou (CAN), the airport analysed last week, to Guangyuan (GYS) in Sichuan Province in western China. Flights operate three times weekly. Air China is the only airline serving Guangyuan and already operates from Beijing and Hangzhou.
- AirAsia added its 12th route to Indonesia from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) on 12 January as the airline relaunched services to Balikpapan (BPN) in the eastern part of Indonesian Borneo. The route, which is operated three times weekly with its 180-seat A320s, was previously operated in 2006. The airline’s sister airline Indonesia AirAsia also used to serve Balikpapan, but the Jakarta route was suspended in 2009, making this week’s route the return of AirAsia Group to the airport.
- Armavia continued expanding its Yerevan (EVN) base with another weekly CRJ200 service. On 17 January, the airline launched a route to Bratislava (BTS), linking the capitals of Armenia and Slovakia. Although the route is a first between the two cities, Austrian Airlines provides indirect competition in nearby Vienna.
- China Eastern on 11 January relaunched its only route to Nepal as the airline began operating three times weekly between Kunming (KMG) in southwest China and Kathmandu (KTM) with 737-700s. The airline first launched the route in August 2009, but dropped it in October last year.
Don’t let the livery deceive you. Although it is operated by Central Connect Airlines, the new service from Prague gives Poznan access to the network of CSA Czech Airlines and SkyTeam. The first flight (above) was welcomed to the city in western Poland on 17 January.
- CSA Czech Airlines on 17 January added its third Polish destination after Warsaw and Krakow as flights were launched between its Prague (PRG) base and Poznan (POZ) in western Poland. Flights on the 315-kilometre route are operated by Central Connect Airlines, which uses 33-seat Saab 340 aircraft for the five weekly flights, operating daily Monday to Friday.
- Egyptair on 17 January expanded its African network with a new service to Zambia. From its base in the Egyptian capital Cairo (CAI), the Star Alliance carrier now serves the Zambian capital Lusaka (LUN) via Dar es Salaam (DAR), the largest city in Tanzania. A320s are used for the four weekly flights, which are an extension of the airline’s previous four weekly flights between Cairo and Dar es Salaam. Notably, the airline does not have traffic rights between Dar es Salaam and Lusaka.
Firefly’s Head of Marketing & Communications, Angelina Fernandez, and Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad, Managing Director of Malaysia Airports, attended the launch celebrations for Firefly’s two new routes with 737-800s. Malaysia Airports baseball caps were handed out to the passengers as a memory of the first flight.
- Firefly, Malaysia Airlines’ regional subsidiary, has taken delivery of 189-seat 737-800 aircraft and on 15 January launched two new routes from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Borneo. The airline initially serves Kuching (KCH) twice-daily, but after nine days, this doubles to 28 weekly flights. Competition comes from AirAsia’s 82 and parent Malaysia Airlines’ 56 weekly flights. To Kota Kinabalu (BKI), the airline also operates twice-daily initially, but increases to 21 weekly flights on 24 January. Also this route competes with AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines, who operate 75 and 58 times a week respectively.
flydubai’s CCO Hamad Obaidalla and Mohsharraf Hossain, Bangladeshi MP and Chairman of Civil Aviation Affairs, cut the cake to celebrate the arrival of the airline’s first flight to Chittagong. Traditional dancers were on site to welcome the aircraft.
- flydubai continued its seemingly never-ending route expansion as it launched its first route to Bangladesh on 17 January. Initially, the airline flies four times weekly between Dubai (DXB) and Chittagong (CGP), the second-largest city in Bangladesh. From 27 March, the frequency increases to daily. flydubai’s 189-seat 737-800s compete directly with Biman Bangladesh’s four flights a week as well as indirectly with Air Arabia’s daily Sharjah flights, RAK Airways’ three weekly flights from Ras Al Khaimah and Biman Bangladesh’s three weekly Abu Dhabi flights. Ghaith Al Ghaith, flydubai’s CEO, said: “Adding a new dimension to the flydubai network, flights to Chittagong will not only cater to the Bangladeshi workforce in the UAE, but also be instrumental in increasing trade and business between our two nations.”
- Frontier added three new routes in the last week, all operating with 99-seat E-190 aircraft. On 15 January, the airline launched a weekly, seasonal service between Denver, CO (DEN) and Ixtapa (ZIH) in the south of Mexico, on the Pacific Ocean coast. Flights will operate until 26 March. The route was last operated by United in 2009, but also Frontier has flown the route in the past; between 2004 and 2008. From Omaha, NE (OMA), two routes were launched on 16 January. San Diego, CA (SAN) is now served three times weekly and St Petersburg/Clearwater, FL (PIE) twice a week. The San Diego route was last served by ExpressJet in 2007-2008, while the Florida route never has been served before.
As Hawaiian Airlines arrived in South Korea, passengers were treated with a traditional song, music and dance display. The airline’s CEO Mark Dunkerley observed as a Hawaiian priest blessed the new route.
- Hawaiian Airlines, which launched flights to Tokyo Haneda in November, continued its Asian expansion on 12 January when the airline began operating four weekly flights to Seoul Incheon (ICN) from its Honolulu, HI (HNL) base. This is the airline’s third Asian route after the aforementioned Tokyo route and services to Manila, which began in April 2008. The Korean capital is served with 264-seat 767-300ER aircraft, but the airline plans to replace this with 294-seat A330-200s as it receives more units of the aircraft type. The new service competes with Korean Air’s 10 weekly flights, however, the two airlines will also code share on the route. CW Lee, President and CEO of Incheon International Airport Corporation, said: “We have been looking forward to this new service, because in less than two years with the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) between the USA and South Korea, the number of Korean travelers to Hawaii has exploded, with a record-breaking increase of 91 percent in the first quarter of 2010.”
Yang Jianhong, Hong Kong Airlines’ CEO, and Changi Airport Group’s EVP Air Hub Development Yam Kum Weng (back row, centre) celebrated the new route together with Hong Kong celebrities at the airline’s welcome reception at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2.
- Hong Kong Airlines on 15 January entered the highly competitive route between Hong Kong (HKG) and Singapore (SIN), the airport analysed this week, which the airline now serves daily with its 283-seat A330-200s. Of the competitors on the route, the national carriers Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines offer the highest frequencies at each six flights a day. The low-cost carriers Tiger Airways and Jetstar Asia offer 21 and 16 weekly frequencies respectively, while United Airlines flies once a day on the route.
In rotation; celebrations in Medan for Indonesia AirAsia’s first flights to Bangkok and Hong Kong as well as the feast put on for the announcement that the northern Sumatra city will be the airline’s next base.
- Indonesia AirAsia launched two new routes in the last week out of Medan (MES) in the northern part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra and took the opportunity to announce the airport as the next base for the low-cost airline. On 15 January, the airline’s 180-seat A320s began operating to Bangkok (BKK) three times weekly, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The next day, four weekly flights to Hong Kong (HKG) were launched, operating on the remaining days of the week; Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. These two destinations are AirAsia Group’s only flights to countries other than domestic Indonesian and to Malaysia. In 2004-2005, the Bangkok route was operated by the sister airline Thai AirAsia, but has been left unserved since.
- LAN Peru expanded its Lima (LIM) network on 16 January with its third Brazilian destination after São Paulo and Brasilia. With 144-seat A319s, the airline now flies four times weekly to Foz do Iguaçu (IGU) on the Brazilian side of the Iguassu Falls. This is the first time a LAN airline serves the airport, although LAN Argentina operates to Iguazú on the Argentinean side, merely 15 kilometres away, from Buenos Aires Aeroparque.
- Lucky Air, the Kunming (KMG) based Hainan Airlines subsidiary, launched a daily service from its southwest China base to Nanjing (NKG) in the eastern part of the country, operating via Guiyang (KWE), also in the southwest. Kunming to Guiyang competes with Air China, China Southern, China Eastern and Sichuan Airlines with between five and 14 weekly flights each, while Guiyang to Nanjing faces China Southern’s five and Shenzhen Airlines’ three weekly flights.
- Malaysia Airlines on 15 January launched three weekly flights between Kota Kinabalu (BKI) in northern Borneo and Perth (PER) in Australia with its 737-800s. This is the airline’s second route to the Western Australia city, after Kuala Lumpur. Kota Kinabalu has only once previously had a link with Australia, when Australian Airlines operated from Sydney in 2003-2005.
- OLT, the German regional carrier, launched its first route out of Hamburg (HAM) in northern Germany on 17 January. The Bremen-based airline then launched a new service to Rotterdam (RTM) in the Netherlands, thereby linking the two largest port cities in Europe. The cities, which are the second-largest in each respective country, were last linked by VLM/CityJet that operated the route from 2003, but suspended flights in November last year. Flights are now operated by the Polish airline Jet Air with a 46-seat ATR42 twice-daily Monday to Thursday and with one frequency on Fridays.
- Pakistan International Airlines, PIA, on 17 January expanded its international network to neighbouring Iran. From its main base in Karachi (KHI), Pakistan’s largest city, the airline now flies twice a week to Zahedan (ZAH) in south-eastern Iran, near the border to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Flights operate via Quetta (UET) on the Pakistani border to Afghanistan. This is the second international route at Zahedan after Iran Asseman Airlines’ weekly service to Dubai.
- Shenzhen Airlines expanded its network from Dalian (DLC) in the northeast of China as it launched a new route on 15 January to Nanning (NNG) in the south of the country via Zhengzhou (CGO) in the central region of China. Flights operate daily with 737-800s.
- Sichuan Airlines on 16 January began operating four times weekly from Kunming (KMG) in southwest China to Harbin (HRB) near the Russian border, operating via Xuzhou (XUZ), located between Shanghai and Beijing. Flights are operated with A320 aircraft.
- Spirit Airlines on 14 January expanded its Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL) base as it took on Allegiant Air on the route to Plattsburgh, NY (PBG), located close to the Canadian border and marketing itself as “Montreal’s U.S. Airport”. Spirit will fly its 145-seat A319s four times weekly, competing with Allegiant’s three flights a week.
- Tiger Airways launched its first route to Taiwan on 11 January when the airline began operating between Singapore (SIN), the airport analysed this week, and Taipei (TPE). Flights operate daily with the airline’s 180-seat A320s, competing with Singapore Airlines’ twice-daily flights as well as each daily services on EVA Air, China Airlines and fellow LCC Jetstar Asia. Rosalynn Tay, Managing Director of Tiger Airways Singapore, said: “We have chosen Taipei as our next destination after many customers voted it as their favourite.”
Other events in the last week
Allgäu Airport/Memmingen in the south of Germany welcomed ski charter flights from Belfast operated by flybe on behalf of Irish tour operator Topflight.