Route of the Week:
ANA’s Tokyo Narita to Manila
In Manila, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the Japanese Star Alliance carrier ANA’s launch of Tokyo Narita flights. The ribbon was cut by Hideaki Izumi, ANA’s GM Manila; Shinya Katanozaka, ANA’s EVP Products and Services; Octavio F. Lina, Terminal Manager, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA); Jose Angel A. Honrado, GM MIAA; Alberto Aldaba Lim, Philippine Tourism Secretary; Motohiko Kato, Deputy Chief of Japan’s Embassy to the Philippines. (Kind thanks to Atsushi Nakao for the picture)
- ANA, All Nippon Airways, launched a new route between Tokyo Narita (NRT) and Manila (MNL) on 27 February. Flights on the 3,050-kilometre route between the Japanese and Philippine capitals now operate daily with 767-300ER aircraft. Competition comes from JAL’s two daily flights and services on Philippine Airlines and Delta, each operating daily. Combined scheduled capacity on the route is 19% higher this year than last, when the route’s capacity shrunk by 12% compared to 2009.
Cake of the Week:
Aeropelican’s Brisbane to Narrabri
The gorgeous pelican aircraft cake for Aeropelican’s new route between Brisbane and Narrabri was cut by Cam Macphee, Brisbane Airport’s GM Aviation Business Development; Robyn Faber, Mayor of Narrabri; and Ian Vanderbeek, CEO Aeropelican. The mayor then cut the ribbon, after which Macphee commented: “Narrabri is a thriving regional centre for mining, gas, cotton, and agricultural research industries. Companies such as Whitehaven Coal and Eastern Star Gas with a need for frequent travel to and from Brisbane can use this new service to avoid a seven hour drive or a southern transit via Sydney Airport.”
- Aeropelican, the Australian regional airline, on 28 February launched two new services with its Jetstream 32 aircraft. From its base in Newcastle (NTL) in New South Wales, the airline launched a weekly intra-state service to Narrabri (NAA), a distance of 330 kilometres, while Narrabri got an additional route as the airline began flying five times weekly to Brisbane (BNE). The two new routes add to the airline’s existing route between Sydney and Narrabri. Fabrice Binet, Aeropelican’s Business Development Manager, said: “The introduction of our new air services between Narrabri and Brisbane and Newcastle will not only be good for the region from an economic point of view, but it will greatly enhance social and economic inclusion and also make the region more attractive to inward investment.”
The rest of this week’s new routes
At Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg, the new airberlin route to Berlin Tegel was officially opened by Vincent Devauchelle, the airport’s deputy director, and Stefan Gutknecht, airberlin’s director Switzerland. At the gate event, all passengers received a limited edition EuroAirport bag with goodies from airberlin and the airport. In addition to the route launch, airberlin celebrated the opening of a new counter in Hall 4 with more goodies and the traditional Berlin ‘Currywurst’.
At the Berlin end, the ribbon was cut by Urs Hammer, envoy to the Swiss embassy in Berlin; Till Bunse, Berlin Airports’ divisional manager marketing & PR; Jean-Marie Demange, business envoy and head of the economic department at the French embassy in Berlin; and Matthias von Randow, representative of the airberlin executive board. (Photo: Günter Wicker/Berlin Airports)
- airberlin on 24 February launched a route between Germany and Basel (BSL). This is the first time the airline, which operates a number of routes from the airport on the Swiss/French/German borders to the Mediterranean and Canary Islands, flies between its home country and Basel since it operated services from Nuremberg in 2007-2008. Flights now operate from the airline’s primary base at Berlin Tegel (TXL) 12 times weekly. Indirect competition comes from easyJet’s 24 weekly flights from Berlin Schönefeld.
- Blue1, the Finnish Star Alliance member owned by SAS, launched two new domestic routes out of Kittilä (KTT) in Lapland, northernmost Finland, on 25 February. With ATR72s operated by Golden Air of Sweden, the airport now is connected with both Kuopio (KUO) in eastern Finland and Vaasa (VAA) on the country’s west coast. Each of the two routes operates twice weekly, on Fridays and Sundays, until 1 May. Juha Järvinen, Blue1’s VP Commercial, commented: “Blue1 is focusing more and more on becoming a business travelers’ airline and invests heavily on routes and frequencies to continental Europe. But we are by no means leaving leisure travel or the development of domestic route network aside. The key point is to understand customers’ entire travel needs. Seasonally adjusted routes are a vital part of our route strategy.”
- Conviasa, the Venezuelan national carrier, on 22 February launched another route that reveals the state carrier’s dependency on the country’s political links. From its base in the country capital Caracas (CCS), the airline now flies to the capital of political ally Cuba – Havana (HAV) – six times weekly. Although Cubana’s competing flights only operate five times weekly, the Cuban national carrier uses 224-seat Tu-204 with more than twice as many seats as Conviasa’s 737-200 aircraft.
- Estonian Air launched a new domestic service on 28 February when it connected the country capital Tallinn (TLL) with Tartu (TAY), Estonia’s second-largest city. The 160-kilometre route is operated six times weekly the airline’s regional fleet of 33-seat Saab 340s leased from the Swedish airline Golden Air. The route was previously operated in 1995 by Estonian Aviation, but has otherwise been unserved. Estonian Air Regional has previously operated between Tartu and Stockholm Arlanda, but the only other route to the Estonian regional airport is now a Riga service with airBaltic.
- flydubai, the low-cost airline analysed this week, added its second Sudanese destination after Khartoum to its network on 28 February. From Dubai (DXB), the airline now serves Port Sudan (PZU), making it the only airline to serve the port city on the Red Sea from outside the African continent since Sudan Airways dropped its Jeddah service last month. flydubai will operate the new route once a week with its 189-seat 737-800 aircraft.
- Hainan Airlines on 25 February began operating between Hefei (HFE) in eastern China and the coastal city of Xiamen (XMN) in the southeast of the country. Flights operate daily with 164-seat 737-800s, competing with also daily services with China Southern, Xiamen Airlines and China Eastern as well as four weekly flights on Shandong Airlines.
- Kan Air, the Thai regional start-up carrier, on 25 February launched two daily domestic flights between Chiang Mai (CNX) and Chiang Rai (CEI) in the north of Thailand. Flights on the 160-kilometre route operate with 14-seat Cessna 208B aircraft. The two airports were previously connected with SGA Airlines until last year.
- Myanmar Airways International, the international arm of the national carrier of Burma, on 23 February began operating from Rangoon (RGN) to Siem Reap (REP), the site of the Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Flights operate twice a week with A320 aircraft. This is the first time in modern times that the two countries are linked with a scheduled commercial air service.
- Ryanair continued its expansion of its new bases in the Canary Islands as the airline launched a weekly service between Gran Canaria (LPA) and Knock (NOC) in Ireland on 22 February with its 189-seat 737-800s. The route follows last week’s launch of Tenerife flights.
- SilkAir, Singapore Airlines’ short haul subsidiary, added another Indonesian airport to its Singapore (SIN) network on 28 February. The airline now serves Pekanbaru (PKU) in central Sumatra three times weekly with A319 aircraft. The airline has operated the 300-kilometre route in the past, between 1995 and 2000, but the route was last operated in 2009, when it was dropped by both Garuda Indonesia and Indonesia AirAsia.
In Brisbane, the sky was the theme of Strategic Airlines’ cake as the airline launched services to Phuket. After the cake was cut, the airline’s founder & executive director Michael James and CCO Damien Vasta posed for a photo with their Thai assistant and cabin crew. Passengers checking in were then treated with pieces of the gorgeous cake.
Also in Melbourne, Strategic Airlines’ founder & executive director Michael James celebrated the new Phuket service with a Melbourne Airport cake. (Thanks to Melbourne photographer and aviation enthusiast Peter Kelly for the photos)
- Strategic Airlines of Australia launched two new long haul routes to the island of Phuket (HKT) in Thailand in the last week. On 22 February, flights began from Melbourne and two days later, flights followed from Brisbane (BNE). The routes are each operated twice weekly with the airline’s single 274-seat A330-200 and are a continuation of the also two weekly flights on each route that V Australia operated right up until Strategic now took over. “We are thrilled to be starting Melbourne operations and to be offering Victorians a brand new airline choice,” Strategic Airlines’ commercial head Damien Vasta said. “Queenslanders have thrown their support behind our new airline and our Brisbane to Bali services launched last year.”
In Sydney, V Australia’s new route to Abu Dhabi in partnership with Etihad was celebrated by Virgin Blue Group CEO John Borghetti; New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally; Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe; and Etihad’s CEO James Hogan.
After V Australia’s arrival in Abu Dhabi, cabin crew representatives from both V Australia and Etihad celebrated together with Abu Dhabi Airports Company’s CEO Jim Bennett, Etihad’s CEO James Hogan, Virgin Blue Group CEO John Borghetti, the Australian Ambassador to the UAE, Doug Trappett, and V Australia’s captain Brett Grebers.
- V Australia launched a new route between Sydney (SYD) and Abu Dhabi (AUH) on 24 February. After the airline’s withdrawal from the Johannesburg and Phuket routes, Abu Dhabi becomes the long-haul Virgin Blue Group airline’s second destination after Los Angeles, which it serves from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The new route is operated three times weekly with its 361-seat 777-300ER aircraft. Etihad operates 11 weekly flights on the route and through the two airlines’ new partnership, the airlines will jointly offer two daily flights on the route. Etihad’s CEO James Hogan said: “V Australia is the first Australian airline ever to serve the United Arab Emirates. That is no small matter, and is certainly a reflection of the growing strength and relevance of the Australia-UAE relationship.”
Other celebrations in the last week
St. John’s/WestJet Route of the Week 15-21 February
WestJet took the last edition’s Route of the Week for a series of five sunshine routes from Canada’s east coast, including a service from St John’s, Newfoundland (YYT) to Orlando, FL (MCO), which will operate between 20 February and 8 May. The WestJet and St. John’s International Airport Authority teams are seen here jointly celebrating their new air service achievement: Darryll Walsh, WestJet’s YYT station manager; Debbie Vardy, WestJet shift lead; Marie Manning, St. John’s International Airport Authority’s director of marketing & community relations; and Nicole Foote, St. John’s marketing specialist.
On 24 February, Budapest Airport welcomed its 5-millionth Wizz Air passenger; Gergely Tatár, who arrived from Eindhoven in the Netherlands. After being greeted by Balázs Varró, the airline’s Head of Communications, and Patrick Bohl, the Budapest Airport’s Head of Airline Development & Strategy, as well as Wizz Air cabin crew, the lucky passenger was awarded a bottle of champagne and a Wizz Air flight voucher enabling him to travel within a year on any of the 12 routes provided by the airline from Budapest.