New airline routes launched (29 March – 4 April 2011)
Route of the Week:
Jet2.com’s Glasgow base
- Jet2.com launched nine new routes in the last week, all from the north of England and Scotland to southern European sunshine destinations. Six of the routes are the result of the airline’s launch of a base at Glasgow (GLA) in Scotland. Only one of the new routes, to Nice (NCE) in the south of France, is uncontested. All Glasgow routes except for the same Nice service also used to be operated by Flyglobespan until its demise in December 2009. The inaugural flight between Glasgow and Alicante (ALC) departed full, with 148 passengers on board. Ian Doubtfire, Jet2.com’s managing director, said: “We see Glasgow, and Scotland as a whole, as having huge growth potential for our leisure flights and look forward to working with the airport to further expand what we can offer the people of Glasgow and the west of Scotland for 2012 and beyond.” For full details about the new Jet2.com services, see this week’s downloadable spreadsheet.
Cake of the Week:
Vote for your favourite!
The rest of this week’s new routes
- Aegean Airlines on 29 March connected its Athens (ATH) base with Bologna (BLQ) in the north of Italy, the airline’s fourth Italian airport after Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa and Venice. Flights on the new route operate three times weekly with A320 aircraft. This is the first time the Greek capital is connected regularly with the Italian city.
- Aer Lingus launched two weekly flights between its Dublin (DUB) base and Perpignan (PGF) in the south of France, near the Mediterranean border to Spain. On 29 March, the airline began flying the route with its A320 aircraft. This is Aer Lingus’ eighth route to France from Dublin this summer.
- AeroMexico launched a new service to the US on 4 April when the SkyTeam carrier connected Guadalajara (GDL), Mexico’s second-largest metropolitan area, and Fresno, CA (FAT). Flights operate daily with 124-seat 737-700s. The route to the city in northern California launches only ten days before the same route will be launched by low-cost carrier Volaris four times a week. The route was previously operated by Mexicana between March 2006 and its demise in August last year, reportedly successfully so, gaining load factors of around 90%.
- Air Arabia Maroc, as reported last week and celebrated with a cake, has begun expanding its network to Montpellier (MPL) in the south of France. In the past week, two further routes – both from the east of Morocco – have been added to the total three new routes. As of 29 March, the Moroccan low-cost carrier flies from Oujda (OUD) and on 2 April, flights launched from Nador (NDR). Each of the routes operates once weekly. The airline, which operates a single fleet of 162-seat A320s, also launched a brand new destination in the last week. On 31 March, it launched two weekly flights to Cuneo (CUF) in northwest Italy from its main Casablanca (CMN) base. The airline’s COO Rohit Ramachandran commented: “We are delighted to announce the start of our flights to Cuneo, which represents the fourth destination we serve in Italy. We are confident the new services between Casablanca and Cuneo will offer customers great value for money to travel between the two cities as well as contribute complement the services Air Arabia Maroc already offers to Milan, Venice and Bologna.” Notably, the airline’s Italian destinations are all in the northern part of the country. The Piedmont region alone, where Cuneo is located, is home to over 80,000 residents of Moroccan origin.
- Air France on 2 April launched three European city routes to Pau (PUF) by the Pyrenees in the south of France. CityJet’s 95-seat RJ85s now fly three times a week from London City (LCY), twice-weekly from Amsterdam (AMS) and once a week from Dublin (DUB). The Amsterdam route was operated by Transavia.com, while Ryanair served Pau from the London area through London Stansted from April 2003 until the end of the winter season in the last weeks.
- Air Asia X on 1 April entered the New Zealand market as the low-cost long-haul airline launched four weekly flights between its Kuala Lumpur (KUL) base and Christchurch (CHC). The 8,700-kilometre route is operated with the airline’s 377-seat A330-300s. The only other link between Malaysia and New Zealand is Malaysia Airlines’ route between KL and Auckland, which has operated since 1995.
- Airphil Express, the Filipino low-cost carrier, on 1 April resumed a domestic service. From Manila (MNL), the airline now flies to Kalibo (KLO) on Panay Island. The route was last operated by the airline last summer season, but flights now relaunch as a year-round service. The new flights operate daily with A320 aircraft, competing with Zestair’s 56, Philippine Airlines’ 26 and Cebu Pacific’s 17 flights a week.
- Asiana, the South Korean Star Alliance member, on 29 March relaunched flights between its Seoul Incheon (ICN) hub and Istanbul Atatürk (IST), where it connects with its alliance partner Turkish Airlines. Flights operate three times weekly with 303-seat 777-200ER aircraft. The airline previously operated the route between 1997 and 1998 as well as some flights 2000-2001. Competition comes from both Turkish Airlines’ daily and Korean Air’s four flights a week.
- Azerbaijan Airlines began serving the Ukrainian capital airport Kiev Borispol (KBP) from its Baku (GYD) base on 30 March. The airline now flies its A320s four times weekly on the route, competing with Aerosvit’s also four weekly flights. This is a relaunched service for Azerbaijan Airlines, which operated the route parallel with Aerosvit between 2004 and 2009.
- Branson Air Express, the virtual airline operated by Vision Airlines and Corporate Flight Management, on 4 April launched a new route from Branson, MO (BKG) with Dornier 328 aircraft. The airline now flies five times weekly to Dallas Love Field, TX (DAL). The same day, the airline’s service to Austin, TX restarted for the season. In the summer of 2009, Sun Country Airlines operated between Branson and Dallas/Fort Worth, but the two cities have been without an air link since.
- British Airways on 1 April added a new destination to its London Gatwick (LGW) network. Twice a week, the airline’s services to Antigua (ANU) now continue to San Juan (SJU) in Puerto Rico, where the airline connects with partner American Airlines. Flights operate with 286-seat 777-200ER aircraft and compete with Virgin Atlantic’s weekly service that operates same routing. Virgin Atlantic will, however, drop the route at the end of this month.
- bmi British Midland International, the airline analysed this week, as previously reported launched four new routes from London Heathrow (LHR) in the last week; two to Norway and two to Morocco. In Norway, it now serves the oil industry cities of Bergen (BGO) and Stavanger (SVG) each daily and in Morocco, flights operate to Casablanca (CMN) four times a week and Marrakech (RAK) three times weekly. All flights are operated with A319 aircraft. Direct competition comes from SAS’ 12 weekly flights from Stavanger and Royal Air Maroc’s daily Casablanca service.
- Camair-Co, the start-up national carrier of Cameroon analysed last week, continued its expansion, this time with domestic flights and a service to neighbouring Chad. With its single 737-700 based at Douala (DLA), the airline now flies 12 times weekly to the country capital Yaounde (NSI). Five times a week, the airline also flies to Garoua (GOU) in the north of the country. Twice a week, the service continues to Maroua (MVR), merely 160 kilometres further north, and the other two flights a week continue to N’Djamena (NDJ), the capital of Chad, located on the border to Cameroon, 360 kilometres from Garoua.
- China Eastern on 29 March added its fifth European destination as the airline began flying three times weekly from its Shanghai Pudong (PVG) hub to Rome Fiumicino (FCO) with its 287-seat A340-300s. From 1 July, frequencies will increase to four times weekly. China Eastern’s existing routes to Europe are to London Heathrow, Paris CDG, Frankfurt and Moscow Sheremetyevo. The new service becomes Rome’s fourth from Greater China, complementing Air China’s daily Beijing service, Cathay Pacific’s daily Hong Kong flights and China Airlines’ twice-weekly service from Taipei that operates via Delhi. Air China also used to operate from Shanghai Pudong to Rome Fiumicino between 2003 and 2008. China Eastern is set to join SkyTeam this year and therefore will connect with alliance partner Alitalia in Rome.
- Delta Air Lines launched five new regional routes on 1 April, all operating with 50-seat aircraft (CRJ200s and ERJ145s). Two of the routes face competition; the service from Boston, MA (BOS) to Pittsburgh, PA (PIT) from both US Airways and the intra-state route from Los Angeles, CA (LAX) to Sacramento, CA (SMF) competes with Southwest, American Airlines and United. For full details, see this week’s downloadable spreadsheet.
- easyJet on 29 March began operating its second route to Gibraltar (GIB), the British overseas territory bordering Spain. Complementing the low-cost carrier’s London Gatwick services, flights now operate three times a week from Liverpool (LPL) with 156-seat A319s. This is the first time the two airports are connected. The only other non-London airport in the UK to have services to Gibraltar is Manchester, from where services have operated on and off since 1986. The current operator is Monarch, which also serves Gibraltar three times weekly.
- germanwings on 29 March expanded its Hannover (HAJ) base, which was opened last spring. The airline now flies twice a week to Naples (NAP) in the south of Italy. The seasonal service is served with the airline’s A319s. The route was previously operated until the end of the last summer season by airberlin and prior to that by TUIfly.
- Gulf Air continued expanding its European network, as it on 29 March launched three weekly flights between its Bahrain (BAH) hub and Geneva (GVA). The airline has operated the route in the past, between 1995 and 1997, and flew even more recently, in 2003, to Geneva from Abu Dhabi. However, the new route is now the airline’s only service to Switzerland. Flights are operated with a 737-700 by the Swiss airline PrivatAir on behalf of Gulf Air. Robert Deillon, Geneva International Airport’s CEO, commented: “We are very pleased that Gulf Air is opening this new route between two major financial cities and we are confident that our catchment area will take advantage of this new high-quality long-haul service to Bahrain and beyond.” Samer Majali, the airline’s CEO, said: “I would like to personally thank the Swiss authorities for granting us the rights to fly to Geneva and the airport authorities for facilitating this. I am sure our new direct route linking Geneva with Bahrain and onwards through our extensive Middle East network will open up excellent opportunities for business and leisure travellers throughout the region and in Switzerland.”
- Helvetic Airways on 30 March launched four weekly flights between its Zurich (ZRH) base and Cardiff (CWL), the capital of Wales. The route is operated with 100-seat Fokker 100s. This is Helvetic’s first route to the UK under its own brand since 2006, when the airline dropped its route to London Luton. The airline does, however, also operate to the UK on behalf of Swiss. The only other connection between Switzerland and Wales is a seasonal ski service with bmibaby from Cardiff to Geneva.
- Iberia launched its second route to Miami, FL (MIA) on 29 March as the Spanish flag carrier began flying three times weekly, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from Barcelona (BCN). 254-seat A340-300 aircraft are used on the route. The airline already operates from its main hub in Madrid to Miami, where it connects with its alliance and transatlantic joint venture partner American Airlines. Iberia expects to carry 53,000 passengers on the route in the first year of operation. A third would be connecting passengers. This is the first time the two airports are connected with non-stop flights.
- Jetstar, the Australian Qantas-owned low-cost carrier, on 4 April launched a new route across the country. The airline now flies daily between Gold Coast (OOL) on the country’s east coast and Perth (PER) on the west coast, a distance of 3,625 kilometres, with its 177-seat A320s. The route was last operated by Virgin Blue in 2004-2005.
- LAM Mozambique, the national carrier of the country in southeast Africa, relaunched services to Europe on 1 April when the airline again connected its Maputo (MPM) base with Lisbon (LIS), the capital of Mozambique’s former colonial power Portugal. Flights operate twice a week with a 767-300, competing with TAP Portugal’s three weekly flights, which all operate non-stop from Europe, but twice-weekly via Johannesburg on the return leg.
- LAN Peru on 1 April connected the capitals of Peru and Uruguay as it launched six weekly flights from Lima (LIM) to Montevideo (MVD). Flights are operated with 144-seat A319s and compete with TACA Peru’s five flights a week.
- Lufthansa on 2 April launched five new routes, each operating once a week until the end of the summer season. One of the routes is from Frankfurt (FRA), while the other four are from Munich (MUC). The Frankfurt service is the only not to face competition, while all four Munich routes operate in competition with other airlines. The Antalya (AYT) service most notably faces four other airlines, while Dublin (DUB) and Malta (MLA) only face one airline each – but with only one weekly frequency against 10. The Malta and Palermo (PMO) routes also stick out for having higher frequencies in August, when Malta is served twice-weekly and Palermo four times weekly. For full details, see this week’s downloadable spreadsheet.
- Meridiana fly launched a new route between Rome Fiumicino (FCO) and Lourdes/Tarbes (LDE) in the French Pyrenees. Flights operate four times weekly with 180-seat A320 aircraft. Notably, the Italian capital is the home of Catholicism and Lourdes is a major Catholic Christian pilgrimage destination. In spite of this connection, the route has not been served as a scheduled operation since Debonair flew the route (although to Rome Ciampino) in 1999. Prior to that Aer Lingus operated the route until 1981.
- Norwegian on 31 March opened its base at Helsinki (HEL), instantly launching two domestic routes. From the Finnish capital in the south, the pan-Nordic low-cost carrier now flies 23 times a week to the northern coastal city of Oulu (OUL) and daily to Rovaniemi (RVN) in the northernmost region of Lapland. The two routes compete with both Finnair and Blue1 (for full details, see this week’s downloadable spreadsheet). Norwegian’s CEO Bjørn Kjos commented: “Opening a base here in Helsinki is a milestone for Norwegian. We have had a tremendous response in the Finnish market in terms of ticket sales and are humble to the warm welcome the Finnish people have given us. As a growing airline, we believe that the Finnish market is ready for more competition where both the business and leisure travellers may benefit from fares that everyone can afford to both domestic and international destinations.”
- Qantas launched two domestic routes in the last week. From Brisbane (BNE) on Australia’s east coast, the airline flies twice a week to the tourist town of Broome (BME) in the northwest of the country as of 3 April. Flights on the 3,330-kilometre route, which has never previously been served, operate with 168-seat 737-800s and complement Qantas’ services from Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. On 30 March, Qantas also launched three weekly flights between Perth (PER) and Learmouth/Exmouth (LEA), both in Western Australia. The 1,100-kilometre route is operated with QantasLink-branded 717s operated by Cobham Aviation and competes with Skywest’s 10 weekly flights.
- Royal Brunei Airlines, the national carrier of the oil-rich sultanate on the island of Borneo, added a new route from its Bandar Seri Begawan (BWN) base on 29 March. The airline now flies four times a week to Melbourne (MEL) with 285-seat 777-200ERs last year delivered from Singapore Airlines. This is the airline’s third Australian destination after Brisbane and Perth. Melbourne Airport’s CEO Chris Woodruff, said: “The importance of direct international air services to Melbourne and Victoria cannot be overstated. South-East Asia is one of Victoria’s fastest growing markets and Royal Brunei Airlines’ services will enable tourism and trade opportunities to be further developed.”
- Ryanair continued its route launch spree during the last week, adding 18 routes to its network. Notably, only the two routes to Ibiza (IBZ) exceed two weekly frequencies at each three flights a week. Magdeburg/Cochstedt (CSO) in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt is a new destination for Ryanair. As the new airport, which only opened last year, got four routes from Spain, it became its first scheduled operations. The only other airports to get more than one new Ryanair route in the last week are Milan Bergamo (BGY) and Volos (VOL) in Mainland Greece. The service between Porto (OPO) in northern Portugal and Paris Vatry (XCR) is notable for being the third route and only non-Scandinavian service at the Paris airport, while the service between Doncaster/Sheffield (DSA) and Faro (FAO) sticks out for being the only to face competition. For full details about the new Ryanair routes, see this week’s downloadable spreadsheet.
- SAS Scandinavian Airlines on 29 March resumed services between Oslo (OSL) and the New York City airport Newark, NJ (EWR), meaning that the airline now serves the airport from all three Scandinavian capitals. The has previously operated the route 1998-2001 and most recently 2003-2004. Flights now operate daily with 264-seat A330-300 aircraft. The airline’s Star Alliance partner Continental provides competition on the route, also with daily flights, however, the airlines’ partnership also means that SAS passengers have access to Continental’s onward network at Newark.
- SmartWings, the Czech low-cost carrier, on 31 March launched two new routes from its Prague (PRG) base to France. The airline now operates each twice weekly, on Thursdays and Sundays, to Nice (NCE) and Nantes (NTE) with its 131-seat 737-500s. Nantes has never before been connected with the Czech capital, while SkyEurope last flew between Prague and Nice in 2006.
- Spanair expanded with two new destinations in the last week. On 1 April, the Star Alliance airline connected its Barcelona (BCN) hub with Nice (NCE) in the south of France, a distance of 500 kilometres. Flights operate twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, competing with Iberia’s 18 weekly flights on the route. The airline then on 4 April launched flights to Hamburg (HAM), a route almost exactly three times the distance, where it connects with alliance partner Lufthansa. Flights are scheduled three times per week, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, competing with airberlin’s four weekly flights that operate the same weekdays as well as Sundays.
- Spirit Airlines on 1 April entered the major trunk route between Chicago O’Hare, IL (ORD) and Los Angeles, CA (LAX) as the airline extended its service from Atlantic City, creating a one-stop service between the New Jersey city and LA. The low-cost airline now flies daily between the Chicago and Los Angeles airports using 145-seat A319s. Competition comes from United’s 71 and American Airlines’ 69 flights a week.
- Sun Country Airlines continued expanding its base at Lansing, MI (LAN) and on 1 April launched flights to two year-round city destinations. The low-cost carrier mostly known for its leisure operations now flies six times weekly (daily except Saturdays) to both Minneapolis/St Paul, MN (MSP) and Washington Reagan, DC (DCA) using its 737-800 aircraft. Competition on the MSP route comes from Delta’s daily flights, while it is the first time the capital of Michigan is connected by air with the US federal capital since Northwest dropped its services in 2005. Notably, this is the Sun Country’s first route to Washington Reagan.
- SunExpress, the Turkish leisure airline that is a joint-venture between Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa, on 30 March added another service between Turkey and Germany. The airline now flies its 189-seat 737-800s once a week, on Wednesdays, between Izmir (ADB) on Turkey’s west coast and Bremen (BRE) in the north of Germany. The route was operated last year by the now defunct airline Hamburg International.
- TAP Portugal on 1 April linked its Lisbon (LIS) base with Bordeaux (BOD). This is the Star Alliance airline’s sixth French destination after Paris Orly, Lyon, Marseille, Nice and Toulouse. Flights between the Portuguese capital and the famous wine city in southern France are operated six times weekly with 45-seat ERJ145 aircraft operated by the regional subsidiary Portugália, although frequencies will increase to daily from June. Flights compete with Air France’s daily service, which has operated since 2001. TAP Portugal previously operated the route between 1991 and 1993 and Portugália between 1999 and 2001, but this was before the two airlines merged.
- Transavia.com, the Air France-KLM-owned low-cost carrier, on 4 April launched two new routes from its Amsterdam (AMS) base to Southern European capital cities. The airline now flies to both Athens (ATH) in Greece and Lisbon (LIS) in Portugal with its 186-seat 737-800s. Athens services start off with four weekly frequencies and Lisbon flights operate five times a week. From May, both routes’ frequencies do, however, increase to daily. Both routes are competitive, with KLM operating twice-daily to both destinations. The Athens route is also served by Olympic Air daily and TAP Portugal operates from Lisbon to Amsterdam 13 times a week.
- Tunisair on 2 April launched three new routes from Enfidha (NBE), the new airport serving the Tunisian resorts, with its A320s. Each of the routes to Berlin Schönefeld (SXF), Basel (BSL) and Luxembourg (LUX) is operated once a week.
- United Airlines launched eight routes on 3 April from its hubs in Denver, CO (DEN), Washington Dulles, DC (IAD) as well as the Houston Intercontinental, TX (IAH) hub inherited from Continental. Notably, all three Denver routes are ERJ145 operations to Texan airports, while the routes launched from Washington Dulles vary. United previously operated from the federal capital airport to Minneapolis/St Paul, MN (MSP) between 2004 and 2007 and the Star Alliance airline also served Louisville, KY (SDF), most recently 2000-2003. For full details about the new routes, see this week’s downloadable spreadsheet.
- Virgin Atlantic added its third route from Manchester (MAN) on 3 April when the airline started flying twice-weekly, on Thursdays and Sundays, to Las Vegas (LAS). The British long-haul airline already serves the Entertainment Capital of the World from London Gatwick and the new route now adds to its Manchester operations to Orlando and Barbados. 451-seat 747-400 aircraft are used on the new route.
- Vision Airlines continued its rapid route expansion this week as its new base at Fort Walton Beach, FL (VPS), which opened last week, continued to generate new routes. 12 routes were launched in the last week from the Florida airport. The airline also launched another route from another Florida airport in the last week. On 29 March, it connected Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL) with Louisville, KY (SDF) three times weekly. For full details about the new routes, see this week’s downloadable spreadsheet.
- Volaris, the Mexican low-cost carrier, on 30 March began flying to its fifth US destination when the airline connected Guadalajara (GDL) with Las Vegas (LAS). Flights now operate daily with 144-seat A319s. The route had been left unserved since Mexicana’s demise last August. Notably, Volaris cooperates with Southwest, which is the largest domestic carrier at Las Vegas McCarran. See the local TV report on Volaris’ arrival.
- WindJet continued expanding its Rimini (RMI) base, as reported on last week. This week, it resulted in five new routes. Notably, three of them are to Russia and the Ukraine, showing the airport’s appeal to these markets. For full details, see this week’s downloadable spreadsheet.
- Wizz Air launched 11 new routes in the last week with its 180-seat A320s. This includes five routes launched as part of the airline’s new base in Serbia’s capital Belgrade. Notably, two Scandinavian destinations are new to the Central and Eastern European low-cost airline; Aarhus (AAR) in Denmark and Stavanger (SVG) in Norway. The route between Tirgu Mures (TGM) and London Luton (LTN) launches ahead of the airline’s later base at the Transylvanian airport.