New airline routes launched (10 – 16 May 2011)

Route of the Week:
Qantas’ Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth

Andrew McEvoy, Managing Director Tourism Australia, Qantas’ CEO Alan Joyce and Sydney Airport’s GM Corporate Affairs Rod Gilmour celebrated the new route to Dallas/Fort Worth in Sydney as the first flight was about to take off. Passengers were treated with cupcakes while the theme of the day was clear – Sydney Airport was full of line dancers, cheer leaders…and cowboy hats.

Big celebrations were due when Qantas arrived at Dallas/Fort Worth. Posing in the centre of the group of dignitaries is Kim Beazley, Australian Ambassador to the United States, joined on the right by DFW Airport’s CEO Jeff Fegan and Qantas’ ambassador John Travolta. Travolta then welcomed the delighted passengers off the first flight and Dallas cheerleaders were on site to join the celebrations.

  • Qantas on 16 May dropped its route to San Francisco and instead began operating from its Sydney (SYD) base to Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DFW), the home of its alliance partner American Airlines. Pending regulatory approval, the two alliance partners seek anti-trust immunity for an even closer cooperation. The Australian oneworld airline operates the new route four times weekly, with the return sector operating via Brisbane (BNE), with 371-seat 747-400s. The 13,800-kilometre route ranks as the longest passenger flight operated with 747 aircraft. Jeff Fegan, DFW Airport’s CEO, commented: “Qantas opens up a whole new part of the globe for our passengers from North Texas,” said, noting that the new service will generate about US$130 million for the region’s economy.

Cakes of the Week:
airBaltic’s Riga to Budapest

Celebrating the launch of Budapest flights with a cake made in the shape of one of Hungary’s most famous exports – Rubik’s Cube – were Jānis Vanags, airBaltic’s VP Corporate Communications, and Aldis Mūrnieks, member of the board, Riga International Airport.

Holding the cake welcoming airBaltic to Budapest from Riga were Budapest Airport’s Patrick Bohl, Head of Airline Strategy and Development, and Sándor Saly, Airline Development Manager, joined by Kam Jandu, Director Aviation; Jost Lammers, CEO; and the airBaltic crew. Cutting the ribbon were Gregory Pomerantsev, airBaltic’s SVP Sales & Marketing; Lammers; and Nils Usakovs, Mayor of Riga.

  • airBaltic, the Latvian national carrier, on 16 May connected its Riga (RIX) hub with Budapest (BUD), the capital of Hungary. The airline now flies the route four times weekly with its 76-seat Q400 aircraft. The airline has operated the route in the past, between 1999 and 2001. Malev also served the route in 1999-2000. Kam Jandu, Budapest Airport’s Director Aviation, commented: “We are anticipating around 24,000 passengers will use the service in the first year. This is an important connection with the Baltic states and provides local passengers with the opportunity to connect with a wider selection of Scandinavian cities, as well as other destinations in northern Europe and the CIS.” airBaltic’s CCO Tero Taskila added: “airBaltic customers, when asked about preferred destinations in Central Europe, have always requested Budapest, and we are delighted to now open this new route.”

The rest of this week’s new routes

Air China - Athens to Beijing

Air China’s resumption of services to Greece was celebrated in Beijing. The airline has served Athens in the past, most notably transporting the Olympic flame between the two Olympic cities.

On arrival in Athens, a ribbon was tied to commemorate the relaunch of Air Chinas services by Nikos Kanellopoulos, Chairman of the Greek National Tourism Organisation; Xia Xinghua, Deputy Director of the Chinese Civil Aviation Authority; Spyros Kouvelis, Greek Deputy Minister of External Affairs; and George Nikitiadis, Greek Deputy Minister of Culture & Tourism. Speeches were held by both Luo Linquan, Chinese Ambassador to Greece, and Athens Airport’s CEO Yiannis Paraschis.

  • Air China extended two of its four weekly flights between Beijing (PEK) and Munich (MUC) to continue to the Greek capital Athens (ATH) where the Chinese Star Alliance airline connects with its partner Aegean Airlines. From 11 May, the new flights operate with 311-seat A330-300 aircraft. Athens is Air China’s 11th European destination and fourth in southern Europe after Madrid, Milan and Rome. The airline has served the Greek capital in the past, notably bringing the Olympic flame between Greece and China, but services were suspended in 2009.
  • Air Transat on 15 May began serving Turkey as the Canadian leisure carrier launched a weekly service from Toronto Pearson (YYZ) via Montreal (YUL) to Istanbul Atatürk (IST). Flights operate interchangeably with the airline’s A330 and A310 aircraft. Canada and Turkey are also linked by Turkish Airlines, which flies between Istanbul Atatürk and Toronto Pearson three times a week.
  • Armavia, the Armenian airline, on 15 May added its third French destination as the airline connected its Yerevan (EVN) base with Lyon (LYS). The two weekly flights, which are operated with 134-seat A319s, complement the airline’s operations to Paris CDG and Marseille.       
  • Azerbaijan Airlines launched its second route to the Ukraine after Kiev on 16 May as the airline connected its Baku (GYD) base with Simferopol (SIP) on the Crimea peninsula. Flights operate twice-weekly with 70-seat ATR72 aircraft. Although currently uncontested, Aerosvit will provide competition with a weekly service during the peak season between June and September.
  • Camair-Co, the newly launched national airline of Cameroon, continued expanding its regional network as the airline had its second 737-700 delivered. From its Douala (DLA) base, it now flies three times weekly to Brazzaville (BZV) in the Republic of the Congo as of 15 May, and the following day, the airline launched six weekly flights to Lagos (LOS) in Nigeria. The Congolese route competes with Air Nigeria’s three and ASKY’s two weekly flights, while the Nigerian route is operated in competition with Air Nigeria, which flies four times a week. Reports state that Camair-Co has achieved an average load factor of 30% so far in its young history, whereas its break-even load factor is stated to be 66%.
  • China Eastern Airlines launched two new routes in the last week. From Kunming (KMG) in the southwest of China, the future SkyTeam member launched four weekly flights to Yinchuan (INC) near the border to Inner Mongolia. The route, which is operated with 134-seat 737-700s, launched on 11 May. On 15 May, the airline connected Hefei (HFE) in eastern China with Sanya (SYX) on the tropical island of Hainan. Flights operate four times weekly with 158-seat A320 aircraft, competing with Hainan Airlines’ also four weekly flights.
  • Eastern Airways, the British regional carrier with a base in Dijon (DIJ), expanded its French network on 16 May as the airline connected its base in the eastern part of the country with Nantes (NTE) in the west. The 500-kilometre route is served daily with the airline’s 29-seat Jetstream 41s.

Izmir on Turkey’s west coast is a new destination to easyJet, which now serves the airport from its largest base at London Gatwick.

  • easyJet launched two new routes in the last week, both of which serve new destinations to the easyJet network. On 14 May, the low-cost airline began serving Izmir (ADB) in Turkey from its largest base at London Gatwick (LGW). Flights operate twice a week, on Tuesdays with the airline’s 156-seat A319 aircraft and on Saturdays with the larger 180-seat A320s. Competition comes from Thomas Cook’s also two weekly flights and a weekly service with Thomson Airways. This is easyJet’s fifth Turkish destination after Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen, Bodrum, Dalaman and Antalya. The following day, on 15 May, the airline launched two weekly A319 flights between its Geneva (GVA) base and Santiago de Compostela (SCQ) in Galicia. The Thursday and Sunday service is the second route between Switzerland and the city in northwest Spain after Vueling’s Zurich route. A service between Geneva and Santiago de Compostela was operated by Iberia until last year, having continuously been served since 1994. Vueling also operated the route between 2000 and 2006.
  • Finnair expanded its Italian network as it added its fourth destination on 11 May. From its Helsinki (HEL) hub, the oneworld airline now serves Pisa (PSA) in Tuscany twice-weekly – on Tuesdays and Fridays – with its 123-seat A319s. Flights operate seasonally until 13 August, complementing the airline’s other Italian services to Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa and Venice. The new route is in fact a resumption, as the airline previously operated between the airports 2006-2009.
  • Great Lakes Aviation saw several changes to its network occur on 15 May. From Las Vegas, NV (LAS), the airline now serves the intra-state destination Ely, NV (ELY), while the airline moved its Los Angeles operations from LA/Ontario to the main airport Los Angeles, CA (LAX), resulting in two ‘new’ routes to Prescott, AZ (PRC) and Visalia, CA (VIS). Each of the three routes is operated daily with the airline’s 19-seat Beechcraft 1900D aircraft.
  •, the British low-cost carrier, in the last week launched four new routes to the Mediterranean from two of its bases. All of the new services are operated with 757 aircraft and face considerable competition.
Date Origin Destination WF* Competition (WF*)
12-May-11 East Midlands (EMA) Alicante (ALC) 3 Ryanair (10), bmibaby (8), Thomson (2)
12-May-11 East Midlands (EMA) Faro (FAO) 3 bmibaby (6), Ryanair (5), Thomson (1)
16-May-11 Manchester (MAN) Bodrum (BJV) 2 Thomas Cook (5), Thomson (4), Monarch (1)
14-May-11 Manchester (MAN) Larnaca (LCA) 1 Monarch (8), Cyprus Airways (4), Thomson (2), Thomas Cook (2)
*WF: Weekly Frequency
  • jetBlue on 11 May moved its transcontinental route between Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL) and southern California as the airline began serving Los Angeles, CA (LAX), having dropped its service from the Florida airport to Long Beach, CA as recently as 2 May. Flights on the new route operate daily with the airline’s 150-seat A320s. Competition comes from Virgin America’s two daily flights, Spirit Airlines’ daily service and five flights a week on Delta.
  • Luxair launched a new service from its Luxembourg (LUX) base on 12 May when the airline began serving Bilbao (BIO) in northern Spain’s Basque Country. This is Luxair’s 12th Spanish destination. Flights will operate twice-weekly until the end of the summer season with the airline’s 49-seat ERJ145 aircraft.
  • Nordavia, the Aeroflot subsidiary, in the last week launched two new routes from Norilsk (NSK), the mining city in northernmost Siberia. On 15 May, the airline began flying three times weekly via Yekaterinburg (SVX) to Rostov-na-Donu (ROV). The following day, the airline began operating also three times weekly via Novosibirsk (OVB) to Krasnodar (KRR) in the south of Russia. Both routes are operated with 737-500 aircraft and all of the sectors face competition. Between Norilsk and Novosibirsk, competition comes from Ural Airlines’ two weekly flights and a weekly service with S7, while the route to Yekaterinburg faces Polet Airlines’ and Ural Airlines’ each two weekly flights as well as one flight a week on Continent Airlines. Between Novosibirsk and Krasnodar, Vladivostok Air flies four times weekly alongside each weekly services on Ural Airlines and Yakutia, while Yekaterinburg-Rostov already is served by RusLine three times weekly and Donavia twice a week.
  • Norwegian further expanded its new Helsinki (HEL) base, launching five new routes in the last week. All of the routes currently face competition, but as easyJet gradually pulls out of Helsinki over the next two months, the London Gatwick (LGW) service becomes uncontested, although there is indirect competition at London Heathrow.
Date Destination WF* Competition (WF*)
14-May-11 Alicante (ALC) 1 Air Finland (1)
12-May-11 Barcelona (BCN) 2 Finnair (7), Spanair (3)
12-May-11 London Gatwick (LGW) 6 easyJet (5)
13-May-11 Rome Fiumicino (FCO) 4 Finnair (14)
14-May-11 Split (SPU) 1 Blue1 (2)
*WF: Weekly Frequency
  • Oman Air expanded its African network on 15 May when the airline connected its Muscat (MCT) base with Zanzibar (ZNZ) in Tanzania, its second route to the country after Dar es Salaam and the third to the continent where the airline also serves Cairo. Flights on the route operate three times weekly with 154-seat 737-800 aircraft. The airline has operated the route in the past, between 2002 and 2005, and Gulf Air also flew between the airports 1993-2004.
  • Pegasus Airlines, the Turkish low-cost carrier analysed last week, launched two new routes in the last week from its base at Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (SAW), the fast-growing airport that won an ANNIE this week. On 15 May, the airline began serving the capital of Iran, Tehran (IKA) three times weekly – on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Indirect competition at Istanbul Atatürk comes from Turkish Airlines’ 14, Mahan Air’s five, Atlasjet’s four and Iran Air’s three weekly flights. Pegasus Airlines’ second route, which launched on 16 May, is to the main airport serving Romania’s capital; Bucharest Otopeni (OTP), which the airline serves five times weekly; daily except Tuesdays and Saturdays. Turkish Airlines and TAROM provide indirect competition at IST with 14 and 13 weekly flights respectively.

REDjet’s first passenger on the Barbados to Guyana route helped cut the ribbon with Robbie and Ian Burns, the airline’s co-founders. On arrival in Georgetown, Guyana’s very pleased Minster of Tourism Manniram Prashad was shown around the aircraft by Ian Burns. He later urged other Caribbean countries not to hinder REDjet’s development trying to protect their own national carriers.

  • REDjet, the brand-new Caribbean low-cost carrier previously reported about, launched its operations in the last week. From its Bridgetown (BGI) base in Barbados, the airline began serving Georgetown (GEO) in Guyana four times weekly with its 149-seat MD82 aircraft. The airline’s further route expansion has been postponed over regulatory issues with the governments of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago. At the press conference after REDjet’s arrival in Georgetown, Guyana’s Minister of Tourism Manniram Prashad, who was very pleased to welcome the airline, stated: “I would like to say to the other airlines and to the Caribbean countries that own airlines, my view is, REDjet is not competition. REDjet is here to complement the service that you are doing. We must look at it in that aspect.” REDjet faces competition from 50-seat Q300 operator LIAT’s twice-daily non-stop service on the route.
  • Ryanair, the airline this week announced as the winner of the €URO ANNIE for the most launched routes, added yet another route to its network in the last week. In spite of no longer operating any French base because of a legal conflict over crew salary taxes, Ryanair now flies between Marseille (MRS) in the south of the country and Tours (TUF) in central France. The route, which was launched on 16 May, was previously operated from the airline’s Marseille base until its closure at the start of this year. Flights now operate on the route seasonally until September, twice-weekly with the airline’s single fleet of 189-seat 737-800s.
  • Shandong Airlines, the regional Air China subsidiary, on 10 May launched a new route from Xiamen (XMN) in southeastern China via Guilin (KWL) in the south to Chengdu (CTU) in the southwestern part of the country. Flights operate four times weekly with 167-seat 737-800 aircraft. On the Xiamen-Guilin sector, competition comes from Xiamen Airlines’ twice-daily and Beijing Capital Airlines’ daily flights, while the Guilin-Chengdu sector is operated in competition with each daily flights on Air China, China Southern and Sichuan Airlines.

A press conference was held in Nagpur as SpiceJet launched two routes to the city in central India. Speaking to the gathered press were Avadesh Prasad, COO of Nagpur Airport’s owner MIPL Nagpur; S Natrajhen, COO SpiceJet; Neil Mills, CEO SpiceJet; and Samyukth Sridharan, CCO SpiceJet. The gentlemen then cut the cake baked to welcome the airline.

  • SpiceJet on 15 May launched two new domestic routes, both to Nagpur (NAG), the largest city in central India. The low-cost airline now serves the airport daily from both Delhi (DEL) and Bengaluru (BLR), aka Bangalore, with its 189-seat 737-800s. The Bengaluru route competes with IndiGo’s also daily flights, while the services from Delhi face competition from three other airlines; IndiGo operates 13 times weekly, while Jet Airways and Go Air each operates the route on a daily basis.
US Airways’ crew

US Airways’ crew posed for the camera before the first flight took off from Charlotte to Madrid. Passengers and employees enjoyed flan, cookies and (non-alcoholic) sangria to get into the Spanish mood.

Cutting the ribbon in Dublin for US Airways’ new route from Charlotte

Cutting the ribbon in Dublin for US Airways’ new route from Charlotte were Steve Raeder, US Airways’ managing director of Shuttle and International; Mrs. Rooney; Dan Rooney, US Ambassador to Ireland; Leo Varadkar, Irish Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport; Declan Collier, CEO Dublin Airport Authority; and Eric Mathieu, US Airways’ managing director of international sales. An American football player appears in the background because Ambassador Rooney is the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

  • US Airways expanded its European network out of its Charlotte, NC (CLT) hub in the last week when it on 13 May added daily flights to the capital of Spain, Madrid (MAD), and the following day also daily flights to the Irish capital Dublin (DUB). Both routes are operated seasonally until 30 September and complement the airline’s existing services to both cities from its hub in Philadelphia. The new Madrid route is served with 204-seat 767-200ERs, while the Dublin services are operated with 176-seat 757-200s.
  • WindJet on 13 May further expanded its new Rimini (RMI) base as the airline added its third route to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG). The airline already serves the French capital from Catania and Palermo in Sicily, but this is the airline’s first route from the Italian mainland since it dropped its route from Forlì in January this year. The new route is served twice-weekly with the airline’s 180-seat A320s.

Other celebrations in the last week

Cathay Pacific celebrated 25 years serving Rome Fiumicino

On 11 May, Cathay Pacific celebrated 25 years serving Rome Fiumicino. A cake was baked to celebrate the event and the delicious-looking creation is here seen cut by Elia Pistola, SVP Aviation at ADR (Rome Airports), and Rupert Hogg, Cathay Pacific’s Sales & Marketing Director.

Bernadette Le Doucen was the lucky 500,000th Ryanair passenger in Rodez in France

Bernadette Le Doucen (right) was the lucky 500,000th Ryanair passenger in Rodez in France, which the low-cost airline has served since 2003. The native of Mullingar in Ireland, living in Rodez, was greeted by Tom Roberts, Director of Rodez Airport (and a native of Northern Ireland), and Jonathan Brisy, Ryanair’s Sales & Marketing Executive France & Belgium, while the lucky passenger’s husband, Rodez solicitor Yann Le Doucen (left), looked on.

Kelowna Airport in Canada arranged a ‘Spring to Europe’ consumer event attended by approximately 1,000 people who came to find out how easy it is to fly to Europe. Of course, the event wouldn’t be complete without a stunning cake!

Last week’s route launch

A full load of passengers travelled on jetBlue’s first flight from  Tampa, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico on 4 May . The cake was designed by Cakes Plus in Tampa and featured hand painted logos, palm trees, sugar sand, and edible handmade tropical flowers made entirely from sugar. Posing with the cake were Christopher Minner, VP Marketing Tampa International Airport; Linda Meech, jetblue’s Station Manager Tampa; and Albert Ruiz, jetBlue’s Marketing Manager Southeast, while entertainment was provided by local musicians A Son de Plena.


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