Route of the Week:
Turkish Airlines’ Istanbul Atatürk to Los Angeles
After a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Los Angeles International Airport, Turkish Airlines’ new route from Istanbul Atatürk was celebrated at a gala event at the backlot of Paramount Studios in downtown Hollywood. The airline’s chairman Hamdi Topçu celebrated with the Star Alliance carrier’s new brand ambassador, Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant.
- Turkish Airlines continued expanding its US network as the fast-growing Star Alliance member connected its Istanbul Atatürk (IST) hub with Los Angeles, CA (LAX) on 3 March. This is the airline’s fifth US destination after New York JFK, Chicago O’Hare, Miami and Washington Dulles. Flights operate four times weekly, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, with the airline’s flagship 337-seat 777-300ER aircraft.
Cake of the Week:
Qatar Airways’ Doha to Stuttgart
After Qatar Airways’ A319 had been welcomed to Stuttgart, the two-tier cake and consequently ribbon were cut by Paul Johannes, Qatar Airways’ VP Commercial Europe; Georg Fundel, Managing Director Stuttgart Airport; Akbar Al Baker, CEO Qatar Airways; Wolfgang Reinhart, State Minister for International Affairs; Anne Ruth Herkes, German Ambassador to Qatar; Wolfgang Schuster, Lord Mayor of Stuttgart; and Abdul Rahman Mohamed Al Khulaifi, Qatari Ambassador to Germany.
- Qatar Airways continued its European expansion and on 6 March launched flights to its fourth German destination after Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. From its Doha (DOH) hub, the airline now serves Stuttgart (STR), a 4,500-kilometre route, three times weekly with 110-seat A319LR aircraft. This not only makes Qatar Airways the first ‘MEB3’ carrier to serve the southwest German airport, but is also Stuttgart’s first service from the Middle East since Israir’s Tel Aviv flights in 2009. Commenting the new route, Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker said: “Stuttgart, as an attractive business location and driving force behind Germany’s strong economy, is a destination of great appeal and potential for Qatar Airways. Qatar has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and we are delighted to link the two dynamic powerhouses with non-stop flights, fostering business and tourism ties.”
The rest of this week’s new routes
- Aerolineas Argentinas, which next year hopes to join SkyTeam, relaunched services to Mexico City (MEX) on 3 March. From its Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) base, the Argentinean state carrier now flies the 7,380-kilometre route between the two country capitals four times weekly with 280-seat A340-300 aircraft. The airline previously operated the route between January 2007 and April 2008, then in competition with both AeroMexico and Mexicana. However, after Mexicana’s demise last summer, the only competition left on the route is Aerolineas Argentinas’ future alliance partner AeroMexico, which operates eight weekly flights.
- Aerosvit launched two new routes from its Kiev Borispol (KBP) hub in the last week. On 1 March, the airline launched its second Polish route as it began operating four times weekly to Krakow (KRK). Flights are operated with 49-seat ERJ-145 aircraft and notably mark the first time Krakow has a scheduled connection with the Ukraine. The following day, on 2 March, London Gatwick (LGW) welcomed the Ukrainian carrier. Flights initially operate four and five times weekly before increasing to daily at the start of the summer season. The A321 aircraft used is operated by Donbassaero. The route competes directly with fellow Ukrainian carrier Ukraine International’s daily Gatwick flights as well as indirectly with British Airways’ daily flights from London Heathrow and Wizz Air’s three weekly London Luton flights. Aerosvit’s acting Director General, Alexander Avdieiev, said: “Gatwick Airport’s excellent links into London and the South East and its progressive investment programme has given us the ideal opportunity to expand our network and introduce routes to the London market. Our direct flight to Kiev will give passengers the choice to not only travel to the capital but to other regions of the Ukraine such as, Frankovsk, Lugansk and Odessa.”
- Air Canada on 7 March launched a domestic route within Quebec under the Air Canada Jazz brand. Flights now operate between Montreal (YUL) and Sept-Îles (YZV), a distance of 770 kilometres, six times weekly (daily except Sundays) with 37-seat Dash8-100 aircraft. Competition comes from Provincial Airlines’ 12 weekly flights.
As Allegiant launched flights from Minot to Phoenix/Mesa, the airport celebrated with a golf theme.
- Allegiant Air added its second route to Minot, ND (MOT) on 3 March as it connected the North Dakota city with its Phoenix/Mesa, AZ (AZA) base. The airline’s MD80 aircraft will fly the route twice weekly – on Thursdays and Sundays. As of October last year, Allegiant already serves Minot from Las Vegas. “We are pleased Allegiant has the confidence in this region to expand air service so quickly to a highly desired market,” commented Andy Solsvig, Minot’s airport director.
- Bangkok Airways, the Thai regional airline analysed in December, on 2 March expanded into the Indian market. This is a step away from the airline’s recent focus on the Thai domestic market and neighbouring countries. The airline now flies six times weekly (daily except Tuesdays) between its Bangkok (BKK) base and Mumbai (BOM), operating overnight with A319 aircraft. This means that the airline enters a highly competitive route with five other airlines operating; Jet Airways 14 times weekly, Thai Airways 11, Air India seven, Kingfisher Airlines six and Cathay Pacific three.
- Berjaya Air, the Malaysian regional carrier, on 1 March launched a service between Singapore (SIN) and Redang (RDN), the island off the Malaysian east coast. The 500-kilometre route is operated daily with ATR72 aircraft and complements the airline’s existing service to the island from Subang.
- Czech Connect Airlines, the new name of the Central Connect Airlines subsidiary Central Charter Airlines, on 4 March launched its first scheduled route with its 148-seat 737-300 aircraft. From Brno (BRQ), the second-largest city in the Czech Republic, the airline began flying three times weekly (Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays) to Moscow Domodedovo (DME). This is the first route the airline launches as part of its expansion to Russia and the CIS, which makes use of the Czech-Russian bilateral agreement being less restrictive from Czech regional airports. Brno and Moscow were most recently connected by Moscow Airlines (previously known as Atlant-Soyuz), which operated from Moscow Vnukovo until January this year.
- Delta Air Lines launched four routes in the last week, three domestic and one international, all spread across the country. On 2 March, the airline’s flights to Huntington, WV (HTS) moved from Cincinnati to Detroit, MI (DTW). The twice-daily service to Tri-State Airport is operated by Comair with 50-seat CRJ200s. From Washington Reagan, DC (DCA), the airline also launched daily flights to New Orleans, LA (MSY) with 70-seat CRJ700s, which compete with US Airways’ 29 weekly flights and indirectly also with United’s 21 weekly flights from Washington Dulles and Southwest’s and AirTran’s 14 and seven weekly flights respectively from Baltimore/Washington. Flights were also relaunched between Los Angeles, CA (LAX) and Phoenix, AZ (PHX), operating 28 times a week with SkyWest’s 76-seat CRJ900s. The airline last operated the highly competitive route in 2007-2008 and prior to that 1987-1998. It now faces Southwest’s 72, US Airways’ 45 and United’s 30 weekly services on the route. Finally, on 5 March, Delta launched a weekly service between Austin, TX (AUS) and Cancun (CUN), the airport analysed two weeks ago. The service competes with Continental’s also weekly service, which launched only two weeks earlier.
- Firefly, Malaysia Airlines’ regional subsidiary, on 1 March relaunched services connecting the island of Penang (PEN) on the west coast of the Malacca Peninsula with Kuala Terengganu (TGG) on the country’s east coast. The airline used to operate the route until March 2009. Flights now operate three times weekly with ATR72 aircraft, complementing the airline’s services to Kuala Terengganu from Singapore and Subang, the secondary, regional airport for Kuala Lumpur.
Salah Al Malki, Bahraini Ambassador to Iraq, and Gulf Air’s CEO Samer Majali cut the ribbon for the inaugural flight to Basra at Bahrain International Airport. Upon arrival in the Iraqi city, a press conference was held by Abdul Ameer Ghanim, Basra Airport Manager; Majali; Al Malki; and the acting Governor of Basra, Nizar Al Jabri.
- Gulf Air on 2 March launched its fourth route to Iraq as it connected its Bahrain (BAH) hub with Basra (BSR). Flights operate four times weekly on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays with a mix of both Embraer E-series aircraft and A319s. Notably, this is the first time either Gulf Air or Bahrain has a connection with Basra. Commenting the new route, Gulf Air’s CEO Samer Majali said: “Our Basra flights have been scheduled in such a way that they provide very good two-way connectivity to all the major GCC points such as Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait and Muscat in addition to key destinations in Europe, North Africa and Asia from 40 minutes to 3 hours of connecting time. I am sure Basra will also be a successful one like our other routes in Iraq.”
- Jet Airways launched a new domestic route on 1 March as the airline began flying between Delhi (DEL) and Raipur (RPR), a distance of 940 kilometres. Flights operate daily with 737-700s, complementing also daily operations on JetLite. Competition on the route comes from Air India and Kingfisher’s each daily flights and IndiGo’s six flights a week.
After a speech by Myanmar Airways International’s CEO Aung Gyi, there was a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the airline’s new route to Guangzhou – its first to China.
- Myanmar Airways International, the international flag carrier of Burma, continued its expansion into new country markets. On 3 March, the airline began flying to China, as it connected its Rangoon (RGN) base with Guangzhou (CAN) in the south of China. The 2.5-hour flights operate twice a week, on Thursdays and Sundays, with A320 aircraft and compete with China Southern’s three weekly flights. Notably, jade trade is a major business link between Burma and China and the airline hopes to increase tourism traffic flows with the new route.
- Nature Air, the Costa Rican regional carrier, on 2 March began serving Managua (MGA), the capital of neighbouring Nicaragua. Flights originate in the regional airport serving the Costa Rican capital, San José Tobías Bolaños (SYQ), and operate via Liberia (LIR), the country’s second-biggest airport. The route is scheduled to be operated four times weekly with Twin Otter aircraft.
- Rossiya, the Russian state carrier based in St Petersburg (LED), on 6 March returned to the UK market as it relaunched flights to London Gatwick (LGW). The airline dropped its Gatwick services in March last year, but continued its flights to London Heathrow, which had been operated parallel to the Gatwick flights, until October last year. Indirect competition comes from British Airways’ daily flights from London Heathrow.
- RwandAir continued its expansion out of its base at Kigali (KGL), the capital of Rwanda, on 3 March when the airline began flying to Brazzaville (BZV), the capital of the Republic of the Congo. Flights operate three times weekly with CRJ200 aircraft. This is the first time the two airports are connected since Ethiopian Airlines operated the route in 2002, although RwandAir served Kinshasa, the capital of Democratic Republic of the Congo just across the Congo River, as recently as the end of last year.
Ryanair’s new route between Bremen and Tallinn was celebrated by Evely Baum, Head of Estonian Tourist Board in Germany; Michael Ambs, Ryanair’s Sales and Marketing Executive Germany; and Florian Kruse, Head of Communication and Marketing at City Airport Bremen, who cut the ribbon for the new service.
- Ryanair launched four new routes in the last week. Bremen (BRE) in northwest Germany got three of the four new services. Notably, all three routes are operated twice-weekly until the start of the summer season, when frequencies increase to three times a week on each route. On 1 March, the airline began serving Tallinn (TLL) and Tenerife Sur (TFS), followed by Gran Canaria (LPA) on 3 March. The Estonian capital also got another link from the UK, as Ryanair launched three weekly flights from East Midlands (EMA) on 2 March.
After Sichuan Airlines’ staff posed for a commemorative photo, delighted passengers boarded on the first flight to Hanoi. This is the first time Chongqing is connected with Vietnam.
- Sichuan Airlines on 6 March launched its first route from Chongqing (CKG) to a destination outside Greater China. The airline now serves the Vietnamese capital Hanoi (HAN) with two weekly flights. 164-seat A320 aircraft are used on the route, which is the first between the city in southwest China and Vietnam. The first flight reportedly carried over 100 passengers.
After Spirit Airlines was welcomed to West Virginia’s capital Charleston with a fire-truck salute, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin extended his welcome as he spoke to the gathered press.
- Spirit Airlines launched two routes in the last week. On 3 March, Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL) got connected with Charleston, WV (CRW) three times weekly. This is the second Florida route at Yeager Airport, which is the largest in West Virginia, after AirTran’s Orlando service. Remaining services at the airport are regional hub feeder flights. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin commented: “As our state’s newest business partner, I want to personally welcome Spirit Airlines to West Virginia. With the inaugural Spirit Airlines flight at Yeager Airport, the opportunities for our state’s business growth and our people’s leisure pursuits grow exponentially.” From Atlantic City, NJ (ACY), the airline the following day began flying to Chicago O’Hare, IL (ORD), initially five times weekly, but increasing to daily from 1 April. The airline has operated the route before, launching services in July 2001, but only operating until shortly after 9/11. Both new Spirit routes are operated with 145-seat A319s.
As TransAsia arrived in Chongqing, the crew was welcomed by the delighted airport officials, including the Deputy Secretary of Chongqing Airport Authority, Cao Qianli (centre). The crew then posed together with TransAsia’s Deputy Commercial Manager, Li Shixun. The new service is the fourth between Taipei’s two airports and the major city in the southwest of Mainland China.
- TransAsia Airways expanded its network across the Taiwan Strait on 3 March when the airline launched a new route between Taipei Songshan (TSA) and Chongqing (CKG) in southwest Mainland China. Flights operate twice weekly with A321 aircraft and compete with Sichuan Airlines’ also two weekly services. Indirect competition at Taipei Taoyuan comes from Air China and UNI Airways that operate three and two flights a week respectively.
- United Airlines on 3 March launched a twice-daily service between Los Angeles, CA (LAX) and Austin, TX (AUS). The 2,000-kilometre route is operated by SkyWest with 66-seat CRJ700ER aircraft, competing with American Airlines’ three daily and Southwest’s two daily flights.
- Vueling on 2 March took over the route between Madrid (MAD) and Warsaw (WAW) from Iberia, which holds a minority share in the low-cost carrier. Flights operate four times weekly with the airline’s 180-seat A320s, competing with LOT Polish Airlines’ five weekly flights. During the summer season, the route is also operated by Wizz Air. Notably, Vueling has operated to Warsaw in the past. Initially under the clickair name, the airline served the Polish capital from Barcelona between May 2007 and January 2010.
Other celebrations in the last week
Bologna Airport celebrated a year’s successful Turkish Airlines operations with a cake! Celebrating were Antonello Bonolis, Bologna Airport’s head of traffic development; Kenan Gürsoy, Turkish ambassador to the Holy See; Giuseppina Gualtieri, chairwoman Bologna Airport; and Tarkan Ince, Turkish Airlines’ general manager in Bologna.
As El Al celebrated 55 years at Brussels Airport, passengers on the airline’s flight from Tel Aviv were greeted with special kosher cakes by the airport’s marketing team. The airline’s GM Belgium and Luxembourg, Oranit Beith Halachmy, was on site to celebrate with the over 100 passengers.