New airline routes launched (8-14 February 2011)

Route of the Week:
Air Austral’s St Denis to Bordeaux and Nantes

A major new arrival in Bordeaux called for a big line-up of dignitaries to celebrate. As the Air Austral 777 arrived in the south of France after its over 9,000-kilometre domestic journey from Réunion, the route was celebrated by Pascal Personne, Bordeaux Airport’s chairman and airport director; Catherine Caraglio, Bordeaux Airport’s Routes Manager; Gérard Etheve, Air Austral’s CEO and President; Jean-Luc Poiroux, Bordeaux Airport’s Commercial Development Director; Alain Abadie, Secretary General, Air Austral; and Joël Furiga, Commercial Manager Southern France, Air Austral. (Photos: François Blazquez/AdBM)

  • Air Austral, the airline of the French Indian Ocean island of Réunion, added a new link to the French mainland on 10 February. The airline now connects its St Denis (RUN) base with Bordeaux (BOD), continuing on to Nantes (NTE). 364-seat 777-200ERs are operated twice-weekly on the route, which is the airline’s fourth route to the French mainland after Paris CDG, Marseille (continuing to Toulouse) and Lyon. At 9,240 (+270) kilometres, the route is particularly noteworthy for being a very long domestic service. In an interview with for our daily magazines at World Routes in Vancouver last year, Bordeaux Airport’s commercial development director Jean-Luc Poiroux told how there are strong administrative links between the two French regions, particularly within education, which provide strong business arguments for the route, in addition to leisure and VFR demand.

Cake of the Week:
easyJet’s London Gatwick to Zagreb

The Valentine-themed cake to welcome easyJet’s route from London Gatwick to Zagreb was cut by easyJet’s marketing director Peter Voets and Zagreb Airport’s CEO Tonči Peović, while Gari Cappelli, vice president of the Croatian Parliament’s Tourism Committee, looked on. Speaking at the press conference, the airport director was joined by the British ambassador to Croatia, David Blunt (a native of Gatwick’s Sussex catchment area), who got to welcome the first passengers off the aircraft – Scottish musicians who entertained with bagpipe music.

  • easyJet launched its second route to Zagreb (ZAG) on 11 February as it began operating from its largest base at London Gatwick (LGW). The airline first began serving the Croatian capital from Paris CDG in November last year and will also add Dortmund flights tomorrow. The new service operates five times weekly with 156-seat A319s, competing directly with Croatia Airlines’ three flights a week. Indirect competition also comes from the Croatian national carrier’s nine weekly flights to London Heathrow, however, Wizz Air earlier this month suspended its London Luton service. This is easyJet’s third route to Croatia from London Gatwick, after Dubrovnik and Split.

The rest of this week’s new routes

With over 85% load factor, Air Asia X’s first flight to Paris Orly landed, marking the airline’s second European route. Celebrating the event in Paris were Anah Zakaria; Siti Munajat; Kamarudin Meranun, Chairman of AirAsia X; Rozitah Md. Mawi; Abdul Aziz Zainal, Malaysian Ambassador to France; Ng Yen Yen, Minister of Tourism Malaysia; Tony Fernandes, AirAsia X founder; tourism delegates; and Fam Lee Ee, Director of AirAsia X. Like his colleague Richard Branson, Tony Fernandes took the opportunity to surround himself with some of his cabin crew, who were dressed up for the day in the latest Parisian fashion.

  • Air Asia X launched its second European route on 14 February when the long haul low-cost carrier connected its Kuala Lumpur (KUL) base with Paris Orly (ORY). Suitably, the four weekly flights to the romantic French capital begin on Valentine’s Day and will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays with 327-seat A340-300s. Competition comes from Malaysia Airlines’ daily service to Paris CDG, which has operated since 1997. AirAsia Group’s CEO Tony Fernandes commented: “AirAsia X’s Paris-Kuala Lumpur route is the realisation of one of its long-held ambition to open up yet another affordable access between Malaysia and Europe for both ASEAN and European communities.”
American Eagle’s first flight to Querataro

Before American Eagle’s first flight to Querataro in Mexico took off on time with a full planeload of passengers, the ribbon was cut by Francisco Hernandez, DFW Airport Board Chairman; Jose Eduardo Calzada Rovirosa, Governor of Queretaro; Luis Perez, DFW Airport’s VP Air Service Development; Ann Dudley, American Eagle’s VP DFW; and Dale Morris, American Eagle’s Managing Director State and Community Affairs.

  • American Eagle, American Airlines’ regional brand, launched three new routes out of Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DFW) on 10 February, one domestic and two to Mexico. Twice daily, the airline now flies to Joplin, MO (JLN) with 66-seat ATR72s. The launch of the route – the only scheduled service to Joplin – follows the end of Great Lakes Airlines’ Kansas services the day before. Meanwhile, the two Mexican airports Veracruz (VER) and Queretaro (QRO) each get a daily flight aboard 50-seat ERJ-145s. Both of the Mexican airports are also served by Continental Connection from Houston, but lack any other international services.

Marseille Provence Airport celebrated the new service to Venice with this gorgeous Venetian gondola cake at the time of the route’s announcement last summer. At the time, Air Corsica was still known as CCM Airlines.

  • Air Corsica, the airline previously known as CCM Airlines that is analysed this week, on 14 February launched Marseille (MRS) as a new focus city for the airline as it began operating three times weekly to Venice (VCE) with ATR72 aircraft. The 610-kilometre route was last served in 2007-2008 by MyAir, but Ryanair also operated between Marseille and Venice Treviso until the airline shut down its Marseille base last month.

Cutting the cake for flydubai’s new route to Dhaka were the UAE Consul General to Dhaka, Ghazi Abdullah Ashoor; Ghulam Muhammed Quader, Bangladeshi Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister; and the airline’s CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith, who later showed the new Boeing Sky Interior aicraft to the minister.

  • flydubai added its second Bangladeshi route as the airline launched four weekly flights between its Dubai (DXB) base and Dhaka (DAC) on 14 February. These flights to the Bangladeshi capital follow the January launch of services to Chittagong. The flights, which are operated with the airline’s single fleet of 189-seat 737-800s, compete with parent Emirates’ 17, Biman Bangladesh’s six, GMG Airlines’ four and United Airways’ two weekly flights. Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO flydubai, commented: “There is a large Bangladeshi population living and working in the UAE, and I’m confident that the addition of flydubai’s flights to the capital will be popular with this community, as it will provide opportunities for them to travel home more often.”
  • Frontier launched two new routes in the last week, neither of which faces any direct competition. On 13 February, the airline connected its Denver, CO (DEN) base with Liberia (LIR) in northwest Costa Rica. The weekly service, which is operated with 136-seat A319s, marks the first time the two airports are connected, but Liberia currently has services from seven other US airports. This is Frontier’s second destination in Costa Rica, as the airline already serves the country capital San José since November 2007. On 14 February, Frontier relaunched services between Omaha, NE (OMA) and Los Angeles, CA (LAX). The 2,140-kilometre route is operated three times weekly, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with 99-seat E-190s. The airline last operated the route as Midwest Airlines in January 2008. Daniel Shurz, Frontier’s VP strategy and planning, commented: “The addition of Liberia is a great compliment to our successful service to San José and now provides our guests with greater flexibility to enjoy all the natural beauty and relaxation Costa Rica has to offer.”’s new route to Madeira was celebrated when the route was announced last summer rather than at the launch. Not one, but two cakes were baked for the occasion; a suitable Madeira cake and a aircraft cake enjoyed by Tony Hallwood, Leeds Bradford International Airport’s Commercial Director, and Ian Doubtfire, Managing Director of

  •, the British low-cost carrier, on 14 February launched a weekly service between Leeds/Bradford (LBA) and Funchal (FNC) in Madeira. Flights will operate seasonally until 31 October with 148-seat 737-300s. The route is’s second to Funchal after Manchester services were launched in May last year.
Jetstar’s new route from Darwin

The chocolate cake celebrating Jetstar’s new route from Darwin in northern Australia to the Philippine capital Manila was cut by David Hall, CEO Jetstar Australia/New Zealand; Rob Knight, Minister for Trade, Northern Territory Government; and Ian Kew, CEO Northern Territory Airports. Notably, there is a considerable Filipino community in the airport catchment area, which until now has lacked a link with the Asian island nation.

  • Jetstar expanded into a new country market on 9 February when the airline launched three weekly flights between Darwin (DRW) in Australia’s Northern Territories and Manila (MNL), the capital of the Philippines. The same airport is, however, already served from Singapore by its sister company Jetstar Asia. The new route, which is operated with 177-seat A320s, makes Darwin the fourth Australian airport to have a link with Manila after Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Rob Knight, Northern Territory Minister for Asian Relations, said: “There are more than 8,000 members of the Filipino community in the Territory and this new service will connect Territorians with a new Asian tourist destination and provide more affordable and easier links to family living in the Philippines.”
  • Ryanair on 13 February began operating its 189-seat 737-800s on a brief ski route between Glasgow Prestwick (PIK) and Salzburg (SZG). Only three times will the weekly service operate, with the last flight taking place on 27 February. This is the first time a Glasgow airport is connected with the Austrian city in the Alps.
As Spirit’s first flight touched down in Latrobe, the Pennsylvania city’s landmark Saint Vincent College provided the backdrop.

As Spirit’s first flight touched down in Latrobe, the Pennsylvania city’s landmark Saint Vincent College provided the backdrop.

  • Spirit Airlines added a new destination to its network on 12 February when the low-cost airline launched four weekly flights between its Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL) base and Latrobe, PA (LBE), 65 kilometres southeast of Pittsburgh, with its 145-seat A319 aircraft. This is the first scheduled commercial service at Latrobe’s Arnold Palmer Regional Airport (named after the local golfing legend) since Northwest dropped its Detroit service in 2009. Gabe Monzo, Executive Director Westmoreland County Airport Authority, said: “We are proud to be partners with an airline such as Spirit here at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. Southwestern Pennsylvania will reap the benefits of this Ultra Low Cost service, and we are excited about the prospects.”
  • Tiger Airways Australia continued its expansion of routes to Brisbane (BNE), the airport analysed this week, on 8 February as the airline launched two weekly flights from Melbourne Avalon (AVV), competing with Jetstar’s 11 flights a week. The low-cost carrier also operates to Brisbane from Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport, however, these are reduced from 16 to 11 weekly frequencies.
  • WestJet expanded its comprehensive network to Montego Bay (MBJ) in Jamaica on 14 February when the airline added a weekly service from Halifax (YHZ). Flights operate seasonally with 737-700s until 2 May. “A Maritime winter can be tough and we’re especially pleased to give Nova Scotians more opportunity to soak up the sun this winter,” said Hugh Dunleavy, WestJet’s EVP Strategy and Planning. This is the airline’s 10th route to Montego Bay from across Canada.

Other celebrations in the last week

Brussels Charleroi Airport’s marketing team celebrated Valentine’s Day handing out free Bruyère chocolates. With boas, hats and heart-shaped glasses, passengers – both couples and others – had their pictures taken, with the chance of winning free flights to Verona.


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