New airline routes launched (15-21 February 2011)

Route of the Week:
WestJet’s St John’s to Orlando

The cake illustrating the route between the north and south of the North American east coast was the main attraction as St John’s airport in Canada’s Newfoundland celebrated WestJet’s new service to ‘Sunny Orlando’ with a tropical buffet, while boarding passengers were assisted by none other than Minnie Mouse herself.

  • WestJet expanded its winter sun network out of eastern Canada in the last week as the low-cost airline launched five new routes, each operating weekly. From Halifax (YHZ), the airline launched flights to Punta Cana (PUJ) in the Dominican Republic on 18 February, operating until 6 May. The following day, two Florida routes were lunched. Tampa, FL (TPA) and Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL) will be served until 2 and 7 May respectively. The Punta Cana and Tampa flights both compete with Air Canada, which also serves the two routes with weekly flights. From Moncton (YQM), WestJet launched a service to Orlando, FL (MCO) on 17 February, which is scheduled to operate until 5 May, while the Florida airport got a service from St John’s (YYT) in Newfoundland between 20 February and 8 May.

Cake of the Week:
Continental’s Houston to Reno

The route connecting Continental’s Houston Intercontinental hub with Reno was illustrated with a gorgeous cake creation where the cakes are shaped like the states of Nevada and Texas. Cutting the beautifully baked cake were Jonny Moseley, US Olympic skier; Krys Bart, President & CEO of Reno-Tahoe International Airport; and Lori Fox, Director of Governmental Affairs, United/Continental.

  • Continental Airlines, which is to remain a separate brand from United until next year, launched eight new routes in the last week, three of which are weekly flights to the airport analysed this week, the Mexican coastal resort of Cancun (CUN), from non-base airports, notably all in competition with Delta’s also weekly Saturday services, and three that are high-frequency services to Florida. The flight to Providenciales (PLS), the main island of the Turks and Caicos Islands, marks Continental’s entry into a new Caribbean market. While the route starts with four weekly frequencies, these increase to daily already on 3 March. “We are pleased to offer convenient access to Providenciales, a world-class get-away and an exciting new addition to the list of Caribbean destinations served by Continental and United,” said Rigoberto Alvarenga, Continental Airlines’ Regional Director Caribbean.
Date Origin Destination WF* A/c Competition (WF*)
17-Feb-11 Chicago O’Hare, IL (ORD) Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL) 15 B738 American (21), Spirit (21); MDW: Southwest (21)
17-Feb-11 Chicago O’Hare, IL (ORD) West Palm Beach, FL (PBI) 7 B739 American (21)
17-Feb-11 Denver, CO (DEN) Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL) 7 B739 Frontier (14), Southwest (14)
17-Feb-11 Houston Intercontinental, TX (IAH) Reno, NV (RNO) 7 B738
18-Feb-11 New York Newark, NY (EWR) Providenciales (PLS) 7 B738 JFK: American (7), jetBlue (7)
19-Feb-11 Austin, TX (AUS) Cancun (CUN) 1 B73G From 5 March: Delta (1)
19-Feb-11 Raleigh/Durham, NC (RDU) Cancun (CUN) 1 B73G Delta (1)
19-Feb-11 San Antonio, TX (SAT) Cancun (CUN) 1 B73G From 12 March: Delta (1)
*WF: Weekly Frequencies

The rest of this week’s new routes

  • Air Corsica, the airline analysed last week, on 17 February continued its expansion out of its new focus city Marseille (MRS) as it began serving Florence (FLR) in Tuscany twice-weekly with its ATR72 aircraft. This is the airline’s second Italian route out of Marseille after the recent launch of Venice services.
  • AirTran began operating two new routes in the last week. On 16 February, the airline added its sixth Caribbean destination as it began operating a service between its Atlanta, GA (ATL) base and Punta Cana (PUJ) in easternmost Dominican Republic. The daily flights compete with Delta’s eight flights a week. Kevin Healy, AirTran’s SVP marketing and planning, said: “Our new flights to Punta Cana represent the next phase of our successful growth strategy in the Caribbean.” The following day, the airline launched four weekly flights between Fort Myers, FL (RSW) and Moline/Quad Cities, IL (MLI). This is the airline’s second Florida route to the airport on the border between Illinois and Iowa after Orlando. Both new routes are operated with 137-seat 737-700s.

At Moline/Quad Cities, Allegiant’s crew took a moment to pose with the ‘pirates’ that celebrated the new Florida route to St Petersburg/Clearwater. Pirates Catie Osborn and Andy Koski entertained awaiting passengers at the airport by the Illinois/Iowa border.

  • Allegiant Air on 18 February added a new service out of St Petersburg/Clearwater, FL (PIE) as it began operating to Moline/Quad Cities, IL (MLI). The twice-weekly MD80 service is Allegiant’s third to the airport after Las Vegas and Phoenix/Mesa. After AirTran’s Fort Myers service, this is the second Florida route to launch in the last week to the Illinois/Iowa border airport, which in 2010 just fell seven passengers short of a second-best year. Bruce Carter, Quad City International Airport’s Director of Aviation, commented: “Although AirTran ceased service to Atlanta on November 30th of last year, their nonstop service to Orlando four days a week continues to be very popular.”
  • American Airlines on 18 February launched its first service to Tokyo Haneda (HND) as the airline connected the Japanese capital’s city airport with its New York JFK, NY (JFK) hub. The 10,900-kilometre route is operated daily with 247-seat 777-200ER aircraft and complements the airline’s also daily flights to Tokyo Narita, which compete with also daily flights on Delta and JAL as well as eight weekly flights on ANA. This makes American Airlines the first US airline to fly between the US continent and Tokyo Haneda, just beating Delta by a day; however, Hawaiian Airlines’ Honolulu service launched already last year.
  • bmi (now stylised as British Midland International) on 21 February added Libya to its country markets as the Star Alliance airline launched a daily service between London Heathrow (LHR) and Tripoli (TIP). The route, which further shows bmi’s focus on markets in demand by the petroleum industry, is operated with A320 aircraft. Competition comes from British Airways’ also daily flights and Libyan Airlines’ two weekly services, while Afriqiyah indirectly competes with daily London Gatwick services. Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, bmi’s CEO, commented: “bmi’s new route to Tripoli expands our existing services to and from cities of influence across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Our business customers in particular will find the new, daily service gives them even more choice between the US and Canada to Libya and offers convenient domestic and long haul connections via our Heathrow hub.” Although the first flight took place on the very day when unrest broke out in the Libyan capital, the flight did operate according to plan, albeit with a delay. The two following flights, yesterday Tuesday 22nd and today Wednesday 23rd February, were, however, cancelled.
  • British Airways became the first European airline to serve Tokyo Haneda (HND) as it launched five weekly flights from its London Heathrow (LHR) hub. The 229-seat 777-200ER service complements the airline’s daily flights to Tokyo Narita and is the second between Europe and the Japanese capital’s city airport after JAL’s Paris CDG route.
  • Delta Air Lines has launched four new routes, all on 19 February. Two routes are to Cancun (CUN), the airport on the Mexican Yucatán Peninsula analysed this week. Weekly Saturday flights are operated from Columbus, OH (CMH) and Tampa, FL (TPA) with MD88 aircraft. The airline also launched two flights to Tokyo Haneda (HND). Both the airline’s Detroit, MI (DTW) hub and Los Angeles, CA (LAX) now has daily Delta 403-seat 747-400 services to the Japanese capital’s city airport. While the service from California notably lacks any considerable onward network on Delta and SkyTeam, the route operates in competition with Star Alliance member ANA’s also daily flights. Delta notably already operates daily flights from both airports to Tokyo Narita and continues to do so, without competition in Detroit, but competing with each daily flights at Los Angeles with American Airlines, ANA, JAL, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines and United.
In Belfast, the new route to Malta was celebrated with a cake. Joining the celebrations were John Doran, CEO Belfast International Airport; Joseph Zammit Tabona, Malta’s High Commissioner to the UK; Alex Incorvaja, Malta Tourism Authority’s director UK & Ireland; Paul Simmons, easyJet’s regional GM; Uel Hoey, business development director, Belfast International Airport.

In Belfast, the new route to Malta was celebrated with a cake. Joining the celebrations were John Doran, CEO Belfast International Airport; Joseph Zammit Tabona, Malta’s High Commissioner to the UK; Alex Incorvaja, Malta Tourism Authority’s director UK & Ireland; Paul Simmons, easyJet’s regional GM; Uel Hoey, business development director, Belfast International Airport.

As the easyJet aircraft named Pride of Malta was welcomed from Belfast to the Mediterranean island nation, a photo opportunity was seized by Josef Formosa Gauci, CEO Malta Tourism Authority; Alex Incorvaja, director UK & Ireland, Malta Tourism Authority; Andrew McConnell, easyJet’s Corporate Affairs Manager; Joseph Zammit Tabona, Malta’s High Commissioner to the UK; Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK Commercial Manager; and Alan Borg, Head of Airline Marketing, Malta International Airport. Inside the terminal, passengers and dignitaries were welcomed with flowers and traditional bread – as well as a Maltese cross/Irish shamrock cake.

  • easyJet added two routes to its network in the last week. On 15 February, it connected Belfast International (BFS) in Northern Ireland with Malta (MLA). The two weekly flights onboard 156-seat A319s mark the first time the two airports are connected. John Doran, Belfast International’s CEO, said: “Malta has always been a popular destination with local travellers. We are delighted that easyJet has decided to introduce this new service, making the island easily accessible and a good-value option for holidaymakers.” On 17 February, the airline also launched flights between Dortmund (DTM) in the German Ruhr area and the Croatian capital Zagreb (ZAG). It is the airline’s third route to Zagreb after Paris CDG and last week’s Cake of the Week winner London Gatwick. The three weekly flights reinstate services between the two airports that last were connected March to June last year by Wizz Air and prior to that for a year by germanwings back in 2007-2008.
  •, the airline analysed this week, launched a ski route out of Edinburgh (EDI) to Geneva (GVA) with its 737 equipment on 20 February. The weekly Sunday service competes with easyJet’s 10 flights a week. The route also used to be served by flyglobespan.

After a ceremony at New York’s JFK airport, the jetBlue delegation joined the first passengers, who were all treated with goody bags, on the journey down to Turks and Caicos Islands, where the airline was welcomed with open arms.

  • jetBlue expanded into a new market in the last week as the US low-cost carrier launched two routes to Providenciales (PLS), the main island of the British Caribbean island nation of Turks and Caicos Islands. As of 17 February, the airline flies daily from New York JFK, NY (JFK) and two days later, it launched a weekly service from Boston, MA (BOS). Both routes are operated with 150-seat A320 aircraft. The New York service competes directly with American Airlines’ also daily flights and indirectly with the soon daily service launched by Continental from Newark, also in the last week.

Gothenburg Landvetter Airport’s director aviation business, Brett Weihart, and Norwegian’s Sales Manager Sweden & Finland, Petteri Olsén, celebrated the almost full first flight as the pan-Nordic low-cost carrier arrived in Sweden’s second-largest city. The cake baked to commemorate the even was themed on the two connected cities; Gothenburg being represented by the Liseberg amusement park and the capital Stockholm by its recent royal wedding.

  • Norwegian continued expanding its Swedish domestic network by entering the country’s main trunk routes. On 17 February, the airline began operating the route between Sweden’s two largest cities. Initially, flights will operate 17 times weekly (three times daily Monday to Friday, twice on Sundays) between Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) and Gothenburg Landvetter (GOT), but frequencies will increase to 22 flights a week at the start of the summer season. Competition comes from SAS’ 47 weekly flights as well as indirectly from Malmö Aviation, which serves Gothenburg from Stockholm’s city airport Bromma 64 times a week. Although this is Norwegian’s first route to Gothenburg, its Swedish predecessor FlyNordic operated the same route between 2004 and 2007 (alongside FlyMe, SAS and Malmö Aviation). The last time the incumbent airlines’ duopoly was broken was 2007-2008, when the route was operated by now defunct low-cost carrier Sterling. After the arrival of the almost full first flight with Norwegian, Brett Weihart, Gothenburg Landvetter Airport’s director aviation business, said: “Hopefully, we will see the beginning of a long cooperation with several further destinations.”
  • Pakistan International Airlines on 19 February began competing with Sri Lankan Airlines on the route between Karachi (KHI) and Colombo (CMB). It now connects the largest city in Pakistan with the Sri Lankan capital, a distance of 2,400 kilometres, with three weekly flights onboard A310 aircraft. Meanwhile, Sri Lankan Airlines operates four flights a week on the same route. The flights are scheduled on different days of the week, making the two cities now connected with daily services.
Joe Gilmore, Managing Director Ireland West Airport Knock

Joe Gilmore, Managing Director Ireland West Airport Knock, celebrated the new Ryanair routes to the Canary Islands with Aoife Cogan and Georgia Salpa, who both were so eager to travel down to the winter sun that they relaxed in the sun already on the tarmac in Ireland. Gilmore commented: “We are delighted to launch the first of three new, year round, weekly services to the Canary Islands with Ryanair. It’s great to see a full plane of excited passengers departing for Tenerife today and Ryanairs continued growth from Ireland West Knock is further great news for holidaymakers in the West, North West and Midlands regions of Ireland and beyond who can soak up some winter and summer sun at great low prices.”

Mike Morton, Doncaster/Sheffield’s Airport Director

Mike Morton, Doncaster/Sheffield’s Airport Director, celebrated the new flights from Tenerife Sur as the first flight arrived at the airport in South Yorkshire in the north of England. Morton commented: “It was fantastic to see so many passengers heading out to Tenerife on Ryanair’s inaugural flight today. Their Alicante flights have been extremely popular and we anticipate that Tenerife and Faro will be just as successful.”

  • Ryanair opened two new bases in the last week, as featured in this issue’s analysis of the Canary Islands. Nine routes were launched out of Las Palmas (LPA) in Gran Canaria and 11 from Tenerife Sur (TFS). Notably, frequencies are low and only two domestic routes from Gran Canaria exceed two weekly flights with its three flights a week.
Date Origin Destination WF*
18-Feb-11 Gran Canaria (LPA) Bratislava (BTS) 2
19-Feb-11 Gran Canaria (LPA) Eindhoven (EIN) 2
16-Feb-11 Gran Canaria (LPA) Karlsruhe-Baden (FKB) 2
17-Feb-11 Gran Canaria (LPA) Milan Bergamo (BGY) 2
18-Feb-11 Gran Canaria (LPA) Santander (SDR) 2
17-Feb-11 Gran Canaria (LPA) Santiago de Compostela (SCQ) 3
16-Feb-11 Gran Canaria (LPA) Seville (SVQ) 3
16-Feb-11 Gran Canaria (LPA) Valencia (VLC) 2
19-Feb-11 Gran Canaria (LPA) Zaragoza (ZAZ) 2
18-Feb-11 Tenerife Sur (TFS) Billund (BLL) 2
20-Feb-11 Tenerife Sur (TFS) Cork (ORK) 1
17-Feb-11 Tenerife Sur (TFS) Doncaster/Sheffield (DSA) 2
16-Feb-11 Tenerife Sur (TFS) Knock (NOC) 1
15-Feb-11 Tenerife Sur (TFS) Maastricht (MST) 2
16-Feb-11 Tenerife Sur (TFS) Palermo (PMO) 2
16-Feb-11 Tenerife Sur (TFS) Paris Beauvais (BVA) 2
15-Feb-11 Tenerife Sur (TFS) Santander (SDR) 2
17-Feb-11 Tenerife Sur (TFS) Santiago de Compostela (SCQ) 2
15-Feb-11 Tenerife Sur (TFS) Seville (SVQ) 2
17-Feb-11 Tenerife Sur (TFS) Valencia (VLC) 2
*WF: Weekly Frequency
  • Star Peru, the BAe146-operating low-cost carrier in Peru – the country recently analysed by, on 16 February began operating six times weekly, daily except Saturdays, between the country capital Lima (LIM) and Jauja (JAU), a distance of 180 kilometres. Competition comes from LC Busre’s 21 weekly flights.

Two of the new domestic routes launched by TACA Perú are served with the Embraer 190 just delivered to the airline. The president of Peru, Alan García Pérez, spoke as the aircraft delivery ceremony took place. He was joined by his transport minister Enrique Cornejo; the chairman of AVIANCA-TACA, Roberto Kriete; and the chairman of TACA Perú, Daniel Ratti. Kriete showed the minister and president around the aircraft before the staff gathered for a photo opportunity.

  • TACA Peru expanded its Lima (LIM) hub on 15 February as it launched three new domestic routes from the Peruvian country capital where it increasingly challenges LAN. With its 150-seat A320 aircraft, a daily route was launched to Juliaca (JUL) in the south of the country, near Lake Titicaca. Flights compete with LAN’s also daily services. With 96-seat E-190s, the first of the type assigned to TACA’s Peruvian enterprise, two new routes to the north of the country were launched. Tarapoto (TPP) is now served twice-daily Trujillo (TRU) daily. The former competes with LAN’s 17 and Star Peru’s 11 weekly flights, while the latter route is operated in competition with the same two airline’s 24 and nine flights a week respectively.

Celebrations were due at San Francisco International Airport when the airport again got connected with New Orleans. A jazz band performed for passengers in the gate area and airport staff also turned up to join in the celebrations.

  • United Airlines on 18 February resumed services between its San Francisco, CA (SFO) base and New Orleans, LA (MSY), which it dropped in 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina when Southwest also dropped its service from Oakland. There have been no flights from the SF Bay Area to New Orleans since, but United’s new flights now operate daily with A320 series aircraft. “We are pleased with United’s decision to bring San Francisco back to the New Orleans market,” said Iftikhar Ahmad, Director of Aviation for Armstrong International Airport, adding that San Francisco was the top destination that did not have non-stop services.

Other recent celebrations

While we don’t normally report on charter routes, we couldn’t resist when two cakes were on offer. Stewart International, 100 kilometres north of New York City and soon featured in The Route Shop, celebrated the 11 February launch of Apple Vacations’ weekly flights to Cancun, operated with Allegiant’s MD80 aircraft. Flights operate every Saturday through April when the airport hopes for another destination to follow.

flybe celebrated two years on the Newquay-London Gatwick route

flybe celebrated two years on the Newquay-London Gatwick route and had passengers on the anniversary flight greeted by a London ‘guardsman’. Seen here are local businessman Andrew McKin on his 55th flight on the route and Colin Lemmings from Dartford in Kent who usually travels with flybe twice a month between his London and Newquay offices.


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