Route of the Week:
Royal Air Maroc’s Casablanca to Moscow Sheremetyevo
Royal Air Maroc’s arrival at Moscow Sheremetyevo called for celebrations with two cakes! The first cake was cut by Abdelkader Lecheheb, Moroccan Ambassador to Russia; Abderrafia Zouiten, Royal Air Maroc’s VP Commercial; and Andrey Nikulin, Director Passenger Service, Sheremetyevo International Airport. The second ‘cake’ was in fact a traditional Russian bread & salt greeting.
- Royal Air Maroc entered a new country market on 15 March when the Moroccan national carrier began serving Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO) from its Casablanca (CMN) base. The 4,250-kilometre route is operated three times weekly with 737-700 aircraft. The airline has stated that its current strategy includes a focus on Eastern European markets. Last time the Russian capital was connected with Morocco’s largest city was when Aeroflot served the route 1999-2001. The Russian, then Soviet, national carrier also used to serve Morocco’s capital Rabat up until 1982.
Cake of the Week:
Azerbaijan Airlines’ Baku to Izmir
The cake baked by the TAV associated company BTA Catering, which welcomed Azerbaijan Airlines to Izmir on Turkey’s Aegean coast was, was decorated with the symbol of Baku, the Maiden Tower, and the symbol of Izmir, the Clock Tower. After the cake was cut by Azerbaijan Airlines’ GM Turkey, İlham Asadov, and TAV Izmir’s GM, F.Erkan Balcı, the gentlemen posed in front of the countries’ flags.
- Azerbaijan Airlines launched its fifth route to Turkey as it started flights between its base at Azerbaijan’s capital Baku (GYD) and Izmir (ADB), Turkey’s third-largest city, on 18 March. Flights operate twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, with A320s. The route follows Azerbaijan Airlines’ flights to Istanbul Atatürk and Ankara and in summer also Antalya and Trabzon. Azerbaijan Airlines’ GM Turkey, İlham Asadov, commented: “We are delighted to connect Izmir, a major tourism region of Turkey, and Baku, the largest city in Caucasus, and support the socio-economical relations between two cities.”
The rest of this week’s new routes
As ATA Airlines began operating between Tehran and Tbilisi, a cake was baked to welcome the Iranian airline to the capital of Georgia. The cake-cutting ceremony was attended by Temur Buzaladze, ATA Airlines’ representative; Kate Aleksidze, director, Tbilisi International Airport; Mete Erkal, GM TAV Georgia; and Morteza Barazesh, second secretary, Iranian Embassy to Georgia. At the following reception, Erkal (left) and Barazesh (right) posed with Candemir Akyildiz, TAV Georgia’s Operations Manager (centre).
- ATA Airlines, the Iranian carrier not to be confused with the former US leisure airline with the same name, on 17 March launched a new route between the capitals of Iran and Georgia. With its 165-seat MD83s leased from the Ukrainian airline Khors Aircompany, ATA Airlines now flies between Tehran Imam Khomeini (IKA) and Tbilisi (TBS) twice-weekly, on Mondays and Thursdays. The first flight carried 122 passengers. ATA Airlines competes on the new route with Georgian Airways’ two weekly flights.
- Czech Connect Airlines, the Czech airline that recently began scheduled operations to Russia, on 21 March added its second route when it began operating between Brno (BRQ) and St Petersburg (LED). Flights operate weekly with 148-seat 737-300s until May when frequencies double to twice weekly. This is the first time the two airports are connected, but other services between the Czech Republic and St Petersburg are Rossiya’s and Czech Airlines’ each five flights a week from Prague and Czech Airlines’ weekly service from Karlovy Vary.
Out of respect for the Memorial Day held in Christchurch, no celebrations were held as Jetstar Asia was welcomed to Auckland, but these photos were taken of the arriving aircraft.
- Jetstar Asia on 17 March began operating its first intercontinental route as the airline launched flights between its Singapore (SIN) base and Auckland (AKL) in New Zealand. Like its Australian sister airline Jetstar, Jetstar Asia now also operates 303-seat A330-200 aircraft, which it for the first time uses on the daily new route. With Jetstar operating a domestic and trans-Tasman network to Auckland, the airline brand connects two of its bases with the new 8,400-kilometre route, which competes with Singapore Airlines’ 12 weekly flights. Auckland Airport’s GM aeronautical business development Glenn Wedlock commented: “With these new daily services to Singapore, the existing Jetstar onward connections into unique markets in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan, and their stated ambition for further route expansion, Jetstar will help Auckland achieve significant travel growth from the wider Asian region – growth that is critical to New Zealand.”
After the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue welcomed KLM back to Miami, the MD11’s thrilled crew was happy to pose for the airport photographer. Initially scheduled to start at the beginning of the summer season, passenger demand – proven via Twitter – called for the route to start earlier.
- KLM on 21 March resumed services between its Amsterdam (AMS) hub and Miami (MIA), its ninth US destination, which the SkyTeam airline had dropped in 2004. The airports pairs were last connected by KLM subsidiary Martinair, which suspended the route in 2009 after serving it since 1993. KLM’s flights now operate four times a week with 285-seat MD11s. The route’s launch was moved from March 27 to March 21 after members of the Dutch electronic music community bet the airline via Twitter that they could fill a flight with passengers attending the Ultra Music Festival in Miami 25 to 27 March. Five hours after the clock started ticking on the bet, 351 people had reserved their seats. KLM claims it is the world’s first airline to add a flight to its schedule because of social media.
- nasair, the Saudi Arabian low-cost carrier, launched four new routes to Turkey last week. Adana (ADA) and Hatay (HTY) are in the east of the country, while the route between Jeddah (JED) and Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (SAW) is 2,325 kilometres long. All of the new services are operated with the airline’s 114-seat E-190 aircraft. Turki Al Jawini, the airline’s director of sales, commented: “With the addition of these three new routes, our first to Turkey, the number of international destinations which nasair services has reached 21. We at nasair are very proud of our achievements to date and are committed to the ongoing development of services for our customers and further expansion of our network.”
||Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (SAW)
||IST: Turkish Airlines (21), Saudia (17)
|*WF: Weekly Frequency
Following the success of Hanoi flights, Sichuan Airlines continued expanding to Southeast Asia out of Chongqing in the southwest of China by adding a route to Phuket in Thailand. Reflecting the route’s instant success, the first flight had an impressive 98% load factor.
- Sichuan Airlines on 16 March launched its first route to Thailand as the airline connected Chongqing (CKG) with the island of Phuket (HKT). This is the second international route the airline launches out of Chongqing this month, as Sichuan Airlines began serving Hanoi two weeks ago. Flights operate three times weekly, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, with 150-seat A320 aircraft and reinstate services between the two airports that were dropped by China Eastern last month.
Other celebrations in the last week
A different take on what to do with cakes: As Norwich International Airport raised £2,000 for UK charity Comic Relief, custard pies were thrown on the management, including the airport’s CEO Andrew Bell (centre).