New airline routes launched (25-31 January 2011)

Route of the Week
SriLankan Airlines’ Colombo to Guangzhou via Bangkok

After a speech by Karunatilaka Amunugama, the Sri Lankan Ambassador to China, SriLankan Airlines’ chairman Nishantha Wickramasinghe disembarked the arriving aircraft and cut the ribbon in the gate area. SriLankan Airlines now serves four Chinese airports, all via Bangkok.

  • SriLankan Airlines added its fourth Chinese destination on 28 January. The airline now flies three times weekly from its Colombo (CMB) hub via Bangkok (BKK) to Guangzhou (CAN) in China’s Pearl River Delta. As of before, the airline serves Beijing, Shanghai Pudong and nearby Hong Kong, all of which also operate via the Thai capital. The aircraft used on the new route will alternate between A330-200s and A340-300s. The new Bangkok-Guangzhou sector will compete with six other carriers; China Southern, Thai Airways, Thai AirAsia, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Air Madagascar. See video coverage from the launch celebrations here.

Cake of the Week
AnadoluJet’s Ankara to London Stansted

TAV Ankara Esenboğa celebrated AnadoluJet’s new London Stansted service with an enormous cake, featuring the two capital cities’ most famous landmarks; Atakule Tower and Tower Bridge. The cake was cut by AnadoluJet Regional Flights President Sami Alan, TAV Esenboğa General Manager Nuray Demirer, and DHMI Esenboğa General Director Yılmaz Keleş.

At London Stansted, AnadoluJet’s regional general manager Nejdet Sark shook hands with the airport’s Airline, Route and Marketing Manager Paul Haynes and handed over an aircraft model gift as the airline’s aircraft first touched down at the London airport.

  • AnadoluJet, the low-cost brand of Turkish Airlines, on 28 January connected the capitals of Turkey and the United Kingdom as it launched three weekly flights between Ankara (ESB) and London Stansted (STN). Flights are operated on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays with 149-seat 737-700 aircraft. At the beginning of the summer season, frequencies will increase to four times weekly. Speaking at the Stansted welcome reception, the airline’s regional GM Nejdet Sark said: “We’re delighted to launch this new direct service to our main hub at Ankara that offers convenient connections to northern Cyprus and domestic links across Turkey.” The last time the two capitals were connected was when Atlasjet served the same London airport between August and October last year.

The rest of this week’s new routes

The crew on Air Busan’s first flight to Taiwan

The crew on Air Busan’s first flight to Taiwan took part in a ceremony celebrating the new service.

  • Air Busan, the regional subsidiary of Asiana, on 27 January launched a new international route from its Busan (PUS) base in southeast South Korea. The airline now flies daily to Taipei (TPE) with 195-seat A321 aircraft, competing with TransAsia’s four weekly flights on the route. As a direct result of capacity being allocated to the new route, the airline suspends its service to Cebu in the Philippines. In addition to the new route, the airline therefore operates four routes, two domestic and two international to Japan.
  • Air China on 25 January launched a new weekly service across the Taiwan Strait ahead of the Chinese New Year. From Tianjin (TSN), the port city near Beijing, the airline launched its first route to Taichung (RMQ), Taiwan’s third-largest city. Flights are operated with 167-seat 737-800 aircraft.

Tallinn Airport offered a tasty cake to the first passengers on Blue1’s service between the neighbouring capitals Helsinki and Tallinn. Cutting the ribbon were Juha Järvinen, VP Commercial, Blue1 and Erik Sakkov, member of the board, Tallinn Airport, while Tom Christides, VP Communications, Blue1, assisted with the scissors.

  • Blue1 entered one of the world’s shortest commercial routes as it began operating between the capitals of Finland and Estonia, Helsinki (HEL) and Tallinn (TLL). As of 31 January, flights on the 100-kilometre route across the Gulf of Finland are operated 12 times weekly on behalf of Blue1 by Golden Air of Sweden. 72-seat ATR72 aircraft are used, competing with Finnair’s 39 flights a week. The SAS-owned Finnish airline cooperates with Estonian Air, minority-owned by the same airline, on the new route. Juha Järvinen, Blue1’s VP Commercial, commented: “Blue1 is very excited in entering the Estonian market in January, with double daily flights to Helsinki, which connects well to Blue1 and Star Alliance network via Helsinki-Vantaa. We will offer good connections to cities, like Oulu, Amsterdam, London Heathrow, Brussels, Paris, Zurich, Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin.”

Low frequency, but high-capacity aircraft: China Airlines of Taiwan was welcomed to Wuhan in Mainland China ahead of the Chinese New Year.

  • China Airlines expanded its network from Taipei (TPE) to Mainland China ahead of the Chinese New Year. As of 26 January, the airline serves Wuhan (WUH) in central China twice a week with A330-300 aircraft. Two airlines from Mainland China already operate the route; China Southern five times weekly and China Eastern with two weekly frequencies.

Spectacular welcome: Belgian Air Force F16s welcomed Qatar Airways’ first flight to Brussels as the aircraft entered Belgian Air Space. Cutting the ribbon were Luc Devolder, Belgium’s Ambassador to Qatar; Eddy Merckx, Belgian cycling legend; Meshal Bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar’s Ambassador to Belgium; Arnaud Feist, CEO Brussels Airport; Yves Leterme, acting Prime Minister of Belgium; Akbar Al Baker, CEO Qatar Airways; Khalid Bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, Qatari Minister of International Cooperation; Paul Johannes, Qatar Airways’ VP Europe; and Eric Didier, Country Manager France and Benelux. Afterwards, a Qatar Airways-style white, two-tier cake was cut.

As the gift exchange took place inside, the flight crew was not forgotten, but was given a ‘Heart of Europe’ chocolate box by the Brussels Airport marketing team.

  • Qatar Airways continued its European expansion by connecting its Doha (DOH) hub with Brussels (BRU) on 31 January, becoming the second ‘MEB3’ carrier to serve the capital of Europe after Etihad. A330-200s are deployed on the route five times weekly, operating daily except Tuesdays and Saturdays. Further Middle Eastern airlines serving the Belgian capital are Royal Jordanian, Syrian Air and Middle East Airlines. During the welcome ceremony in Brussels, Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker said: “Brussels Airport and local authorities have been extremely supportive, believing in Qatar Airways and giving us the opportunity to fly direct to this wonderful capital city. In doing so, we are able to provide business and leisure travellers with an alternative travel option and great choice of diverse destinations to fly to via our hub in Doha.”

The new national carrier’s aircraft was of great interest to the many press photographers on site in Dakar, as Senegal Airlines was launched.

Attending the celebrations was none other than the Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and the new airline Senegal Airlines’ CEO Edgardo Badiali.

  • Senegal Airlines launched operations on 25 January and is now the national carrier of Senegal, the country analysed this week, after the void left by the demise of Air Sénégal International in 2009. With two 136-seat A320s, previously operated by Spring Airlines and China Eastern Airlines in China, the airline operates regional, international routes out of its Dakar (DKR) base to the capital cities of other West African countries (except in the case of Côte d’Ivoire/Ivory Coast, where Abidjan is the largest city). The airline partners with Emirates, providing regional feed for the Gulf carrier’s Dubai-Dakar service. All routes launched on 25 January, except Ouagadougou, which began the following day.
Destination Country WF* Competition (WF*)
Abidjan (ABJ) Ivory Coast 5 Air Ivoire (5), Air Nigeria (3), Kenya Airways (3), Mauritania Airlines International (1)
Bamako (BKO) Mali 12 Air Mali (7), Kenya Airways (4), Ethiopian Airlines (3), Air Burkina (2), Mauritania Airlines International (2)
Banjul (BJL) The Gambia 6 Arik Air (5), Air Nigeria (5)
Conakry (CKY) Guinea 5 Mauritania Airlines International (2)
Nouakchott (NKC) Mauritania 7 Mauritania Airlines International (4)
Ouagadougou (OUA) Burkina Faso 2 Air Burkina (2)
*WF: Weekly Frequency

New York State Senator George D. Maziarz spoke as Spirit Airlines arrived at Niagara Falls with its Fort Lauderdale service. Behind him were New York State Assemblyman John Ceretto as well as representatives of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority: C. Douglas Hartmayer, director public affairs; Eunice Lewin, commissioner; Kim Minkel, executive director; and William Vanecek, director aviation.

  • Spirit Airlines on 27 January added a new airport to its network as it launched three weekly services from its Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL) base to Niagara Falls, NY (IAG). The service is operated with 145-seat A319 aircraft. In spite of the nearby tourist attraction, the waterfalls at the border between the US and Canada, all services at the airport can be presumed to be for traffic originating in the area, since all scheduled flights are to the Florida and South Carolina coasts. Henry M. Sloma, acting chairman of Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, commented: “I am extremely pleased that less than one year after the opening of our new terminal we are able to welcome Spirit Airlines to Niagara Falls. Their arrival signifies our firm commitment of expanding service and adding destinations. Spirit will provide first class service and pocketbook friendly low fares that are sure to be popular with residents in Niagara and southern Ontario.”

Murat Salim Esenli, the Turkish Ambassador to China, and Gong Xiaosheng, Chinese Ambassador to Turkey launched the touch-launch ball to open the new route. After a cake-cutting ceremony, Turkish Airlines’ GM China Melih Topuz spoke to the gathered press at the Pullman hotel at Guangzhou Airport.

  • Turkish Airlines, which now ranks as Europe’s fourth largest flag carrier, expanded its Chinese network out of its Istanbul Atatürk (IST) hub on 30 January, suitably coinciding with the fact that that 2011 is the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Turkey and China. Already serving Beijing, Shanghai Pudong and Hong Kong, the fast-growing Turkish carrier now flies to the Pearl River Delta city Guangzhou (CAN), which anna.aero recently concluded is China’s second-largest airport. The three weekly flights will be operated with the airline’s 777-300ER aircraft in three-class configuration with the new ‘Comfort Class’ product.

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