New airline routes launched (8-14 March 2011)

Route of the Week:
AirAsia’s Kuala Lumpur to Palembang

AirAsia’s staff in Palembang welcomed passengers on the relaunched Kuala Lumpur service with garlands (flower necklaces) and a welcome dance was performed. The first passenger to disembark was personally greeted by the governor of South Sumatra province, H. Alex Noerdin. The captain and a member of cabin crew also made it down on the tarmac for a photo opportunity.

  • AirAsia on 10 March relaunched services between its Kuala Lumpur (KUL) base and Palembang (PLM) on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The 700-kilometre route is flown three times weekly with the airline’s 180-seat A320 aircraft. The Malaysian low-cost carrier previously operated the route between November 2006 and March 2010, however, after a year’s hiatus, the route has now been reinstated.

Cake of the Week:
Southwest’s five routes to Greenville/Spartanburg

As Greenville/Spartanburg welcomed Southwest Airlines, not only were cupcakes baked for the gala event held at Upcountry History Museum, but a special cocktail was offered, which called for a toast.

As if there was no end to the multi-day celebrations for Southwest’s arrival, a ‘Plane Pull’ was arranged while Clemson Tigers’ mascots helped at the gate as the first passengers arrived.

  • Southwest Airlines launched two new destinations on 13 March; Charleston, SC (CHS) and Greenville/Spartanburg, SC (GSP) as detailed in this week’s airline analysis. The day before, the airline also launched two routes out of Phoenix, AZ (PHX). Notably, none of the new services are operated with less than daily frequencies.
Date Origin Destination WF* A/c Competition
13-Mar-11 Charleston, SC (CHS) Baltimore/Washington, MD (BWI) 21 B73G DCA: US Airways (29); IAD: United (28)
13-Mar-11 Charleston, SC (CHS) Chicago Midway, IL (MDW) 14 B73G ORD: United (23)
13-Mar-11 Charleston, SC (CHS) Houston Hobby, TX (HOU) 7 B73G IAH: Continental (18)
13-Mar-11 Charleston, SC (CHS) Nashville, TN (BNA) 7 B73G
13-Mar-11 Greenville/Spartanburg, SC (GSP) Baltimore/Washington, MD (BWI) 14 B73G DCA: US Airways (7); IAD: United (21)
13-Mar-11 Greenville/Spartanburg, SC (GSP) Chicago Midway, IL (MDW) 14 B73G ORD: United (20)
13-Mar-11 Greenville/Spartanburg, SC (GSP) Houston Hobby, TX (HOU) 7 B733 IAH: Continental (13)
13-Mar-11 Greenville/Spartanburg, SC (GSP) Nashville, TN (BNA) 7 B73G
13-Mar-11 Greenville/Spartanburg, SC (GSP) Orlando, FL (MCO) 7 B733 SFB: Allegiant Air (4)
12-Mar-11 Phoenix, AZ (PHX) Boise, ID (BOI) 7 B73G US Airways (14)
12-Mar-11 Phoenix, AZ (PHX) Spokane, WA (GEG) 7 B735 US Airways (14)
*WF: Weekly Frequencies

The rest of this week’s new routes

  • Air Busan, the regional subsidiary of Star Alliance’s South Korean member Asiana Airlines, on 10 March continued expanding internationally out of its Busan (PUS) base. The airline now flies twice weekly to Cebu (CEB) in the Philippines with 195-seat A321 aircraft. Already from the beginning of the summer season, frequencies will double to four times weekly. The route is already operated by both Cebu Pacific and Jeju Air, which compete with four and two weekly flights respectively.

As AirTran’s 717 arrived in Central Illinois from Fort Myers, the airport’s two ARFF trucks welcomed the 117-seat aircraft. The gate area was decorated with flowers and balloons to celebrate the first flight on the route.

  • AirTran launched six new routes in the last week, all but one involving Florida airports. Fort Myers, FL (RSW) stood for half of the new services.
Date Origin Destination WF* A/c Competition (WF*)
09-Mar-11 Fort Myers, FL (RSW) Bloomington, IL (BMI) 4 B717
08-Mar-11 Fort Myers, FL (RSW) Buffalo, NY (BUF) 4 B717 jetBlue (7)
09-Mar-11 Fort Myers, FL (RSW) Rochester, NY (ROC) 4 B717
13-Mar-11 Indianapolis, IN (IND) Las Vegas, NV (LAS) 5 B73G Southwest (21)
08-Mar-11 Milwaukee, WI (MKE) Tampa, FL (TPA) 14 EQV Southwest (7)
10-Mar-11 Tampa, FL (TPA) Key West, FL (EYW) 7 B73G Continental (17)
*WF: Weekly Frequencies
  • Delta Air Lines continued launching weekly flights to Cancun (CUN) on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula as the airline launched a service from San Antonio, TX (SAT) on 12 March. The flights, which are operated with MD80 aircraft, compete with Continental’s also weekly service, which launched last month.
  • Donavia, the Russian Aeroflot subsidiary based in Rostov-on-Don, on 8 March launched an international service between Adler/Sochi (AER), the tourist resort on the Russian Black Sea coast, and Dushanbe (DYU), the capital of Tajikistan. Flights operate once a week with 737-500 aircraft. This is Donavia’s first route to Tajikistan and notably the first time the route is operated since 1991-1992, when Aeroflot served the airport pair.
  • easyJet on 12 March connected its Manchester (MAN) base with Palma de Mallorca (PMI). The airline now operates two weekly flights on the route, Tuesdays and Saturdays, with its 156-seat A319 aircraft. This makes the low-cost airline compete with Monarch and bmibaby’s each three weekly flights and two flights a week on Thomson Airways.
  • Hebei Airlines, the Sichuan Airlines subsidiary, expanded its Shijiazhuang (SJW) base south of Beijing as it on 10 March launched daily flights to Hangzhou (HGH) in the east of the country. The flights, which operate with 737 aircraft, compete with China Eastern’s and Xiamen Airlines’ also each daily flights. The inaugural flight is reported to have had a load factor of 96% and the return sector an even more impressive 100%.
  • SEAIR of the Philippines launched a service between Clark (CRK) and Hong Kong (HKG) on 14 March in partnership with Tiger Airways of Singapore. Flights are initially operated daily, but this doubles to twice-daily after a month’s operations, on 15 April. This is the airline’s second international destination after Singapore, a route that also is served with aircraft leased from strategic partner Tiger Airways, which also markets and distributes the fligths. The Hong Kong route is operated with 180-seat A320s in competition with Cebu Pacific’s daily flights.

As Turkish Airlines arrived in Shiraz, two press conferences were held due to the overnight scheduling of the service. Notably, this is the first time Shiraz has non-stop flights to Europe in over 30 years.

  • Turkish Airlines added its fourth destination in Iran to its network on 14 March. From its Istanbul Atatürk (IST) hub, the airline now serves Shiraz (SYZ) four times weekly with 165-seat 737-800s, complementing its services to Tehran, Tabriz and Mashhad. This is the first time Shiraz is connected non-stop with Europe since Iran Air served Rome Fiumicino from the city in 1979. Notably, the route launch follows last week’s Route of the Week, Turkish Airlines to Los Angeles, a city with a considerable Iranian community, a transfer traffic market that the airline is bound to be targeting.

Last week’s route launches

Bangkok Airways’ Mumbai route

Bangkok Airways’ Mumbai route, which launched on 2 March, was celebrated with an Indian-themed event.

Last week’s  RwandAir route between Kigali and Brazzaville  was given a lot of media attention as the aircraft took off from Rwanda. Upon arrival in the Congo, the dignitaries were warmly welcomed and the airline’s CEO John Mirenge (left) held up the flag of Rwanda with Thierry Moungala (right), Congolese Minister of Telecommunications.

Other celebrations in the last week

As Delta announced a new, daily service from Memphis to Outagamie County Airport (ATW) starting 5 June, the Wisconsin airport at Appleton celebrated with a brilliant guitar-shaped cake. Airport Director Martin Lenss and Marketing Manager Kim Sippola celebrated the route to Elvis’ home with none other than The King himself.

Porter Airlines’ 100,000th flight took place on 11 March, as the airline flew from St. John’s to Halifax. The event was celebrated with a cake-cutting ceremony attended by City of St. John’s Councillor Bruce Tilley; Robert Deluce, Founder & CEO of Porter Airlines; Keith Collins, President & CEO St. John’s International Airport Authority; Fraser Edison, Chairman, St. John’s International Airport Authority; Jo Mark Zurel, Chairman St. John’s Board of Trade. Collins and Deluce then posed for a commemorative picture before the landmark flight took off for Halifax-Ottawa-Toronto City.

As Hellenic Imperial Airways brought the last Chinese evacuees home from Libya via Heraklion on Crete, a ceremony was held at Beijing Capital Airport. Government officials attending were headed by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Song Tao, who said: “We really appreciate the convenience and support offered by the government and the people of Greece and other nations in our evacuation operation.” In the meantime, the Greek airline is preparing scheduled operations to the US and Canada from June this year.


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