New airline routes launched (24 – 30 May 2011)

Route of the Week:
Finnair’s Helsinki to Singapore

After speeches, Finnair’s CEO Mika Vehviläinen and Helsinki Airport’s director Juha-Pekka Pystynen cut the ribbon for the new daily non-stop service to Singapore. “Finnair's Asian strategy has worked extremely well,” said Vehviläinen. “The Singapore route will strongly support our core strategy as well as serving our main target group of customers travelling between Asia and Europe on business.” Meanwhile, passengers on the first flight were treated with champagne and Singaporean snacks.

On arrival in Singapore, a gala reception was held at the Singapore landmark Chijmes. The ribbon was cut by Yam Kum Weng, Changi Airport Group’s EVP Air Hub Development; Mika Vehviläinen, CEO Finnair; and Satu Mattila, Ambassador of Finland to Singapore. The dignitaries then toasted to the new service. (Photos: Changi Airport Group)

  • Finnair on 30 May resumed services to Singapore (SIN) from its Helsinki (HEL) hub. The Asia-focused oneworld carrier previously served the city-state via Bangkok between 1985 and 2007. The new non-stop service operates daily with 269-seat A340-300s. From Singapore, which becomes the airline’s 10th Asian destination, Finnair codeshares on alliance partner Qantas’ five Australian routes. This is Singapore Changi’s first new European route since the launch of Lufthansa’s Munich service in June 2008. Changi Airport Group’s SVP Market Development Lim Ching Kiat commented: “Passenger traffic between Singapore and Europe has grown steadily in the last few years and we believe there is tremendous growth potential for Finnair’s services. We will continue to work with Finnair to realise its growth aspirations in Asia.” According to the airport, passenger numbers between Singapore and Europe for the 12 months ended March 2011 are up 9% on the previous year.

Cake of the Week:
CityJet’s London City to Avignon

A giant flowery cake showing London’s Big Ben linked by an aircraft to Avignon’s Pont Saint-Bénezet was cut by Avignon Airport’s exploitation manager Frédéric Gros and development manager Jean-Pierre Stagnaro to celebrate the first flight between the London area and Avignon. Air France’s subsidiary CityJet now flies once a week to London City Airport.

  • CityJet, the Air France subsidiary, launched two new French routes from its London City (LCY) base on 27 May. The airline now flies once a week to Avignon (AVN) and twice-weekly to Toulon (TLN), both in southern France. Both routes are operated seasonally with 95-seat Avro RJ85s until 24 September. While Avignon never has been served from the London area before, indirect competition on the route to Toulon comes from Ryanair’s four weekly flights from London Stansted. Christine Ourmières, CityJet’s CEO, said: “Avignon and Toulon are great additions to CityJet’s growing portfolio of up-market leisure destinations and now provide Londoners with the quickest access to Provence and Cote d’Azur with just a 15-minute check-in from London City Airport.  Our customer profile includes many second home owners and those looking for a short break at an exclusive destination.  In addition, the new routes will give the French regions direct access to the very heart of London due to City’s Airport’s desirable, central location.”

The rest of this week’s new routes

airberlin Route Launch

For the first time in over a decade, Düsseldorf is connected with Florence. Celebrating the new airberlin route were cabin crew Lydia Braun and Ahlem Fersi; Kalle Hansen, airberlin’s media cooperation and events manager; first officer Sebastiaan Kegreisz; captain Janis Schmitt; and Ulrich Topp, Düsseldorf Airport’s director aviation marketing.

  • airberlin expanded its Düsseldorf (DUS) base in the last week, launching two new Italian routes. On 27 May, the airline began serving Florence (FLR) in Tuscany daily with 76-seat Q400 aircraft. This is the first time the two airports are connected since the 1990s. Alitalia served the route 1996-1997, while Lufthansa operated 1996-1999. The following day, airberlin launched a service to Cagliari (CAG) in Sardinia. Flights operate three times weekly, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with a mix of A319 and A320 aircraft. The route was previously operated between 2000 and 2006 by LTU, which since has been acquired by airberlin.
  • AirTran, the US low-cost carrier now owned by Southwest, launched six new routes in the last week, three of which are to Branson, MO (BKG). “We are very excited about the expanded AirTran service,” said Jeff Bourk, executive director Branson Airport. “These new flights will make it easier than ever for travellers to get to and from Branson.” Although the seasonal summer service between Milwaukee, WI (MKE) and Cancun (CUN) faces no competition, both Delta and Frontier operate the same route in winter.
Date Origin Destination WF* A/c Competition (WF*)
26-May-11 Atlanta, GA (ATL) Bermuda (BDA) 7 B737 Delta (7)
26-May-11 Baltimore/Washington, MD (BWI) San Francisco, CA (SFO) 7 B73G United (7)
28-May-11 Baltimore/Washington, MD (BWI) Branson, MO (BKG) 1 B717
27-May-11 Chicago Midway, IL (MDW) Branson, MO (BKG) 4 B717
28-May-11 Houston Hobby, TX (HOU) Branson, MO (BKG) 4 B717
28-May-11 Milwaukee, WI (MKE) Cancun (CUN) 1 B73G
*WF: Weekly Frequency
  • Avianova, the Russian low-cost carrier, began serving Kurgan (KRO) in Siberia, located southeast of Yekaterinburg. The flights from the airline’s base at Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO) are operated twice a week with the airline’s A320s, competing indirectly with RusLine’s five weekly flights from Moscow Domodedovo.

The oil industry’s new non-stop route between Azerbaijan and Scotland was welcomed to Aberdeen. Sarah Campbell, Aberdeen Airport’s Media and Communications Manager, tells us that there was much Azerbaijani press interest in the new route with some 20 journalist travelling on the first flight from Baku.

  • Azerbaijan Airlines launched two new routes to Western European cities in the last week, both from its Baku (GYD) base. On 24 May, the airline began flying twice-weekly to Amsterdam (AMS) with 114-seat A319s. The following day, the airline launched also two flights a week to Aberdeen (ABZ), the Scottish base of the oil industry, with A320 aircraft. Notably, Azerbaijan has large oil and gas reserves. At over 4,100 kilometres, the new route is the longest to be operated into Aberdeen.

As Blue1 arrived in Pula, the ribbon was cut by Bruno Rogović, Pula Airport’s General Manager, Captain Jari Nokio, Jari Suvanto, Blue1’s Communication and Public Affairs Manager, and Denis Ivošević, Director Istrian Tourist Board. Majorettes welcomed the passengers, while the cake depicting the Istrian peninsula was cut by Rogović and Suvanto.

  • Blue1, SAS’ Finnish subsidiary, on 28 May launched a service from its Helsinki (HEL) base to Pula (PUY) on the Croatian coast. Flights operate once a week, on Saturdays, with the Star Alliance airline’s 115-seat 717s. Pula is Blue1’s third Croatian destination after Dubrovnik and Split.

A chocolate cake awaited the first Blue Air aircraft from Bacau at Brussels Airport. Cutting the cake for the full planeload of passengers were Brussels Airport’s Head of Aviation Marketing Leon Verhallen; Blue Air’s CEO Sherif Ussama; and the Ambassadors to Belgium of both Romania, Ovidiu Dranga, and Moldova, Mihai Gribincea.

  • Blue Air, the Romanian low-cost carrier, on 30 May continued expanding its base in Bacau (BCM) in the Moldavia region in the northeast of the country as the airline launched a new route to Belgium’s capital Brussels (BRU). Flights on the route operate twice-weekly, on Mondays and Fridays, with 737 aircraft. The route from Bacau, which notably is close to the neighbouring country Moldova, is Blue Air’s third route to the capital of Europe after flights from Bucharest Baneasa and Constanta.
  • bmibaby launched three new routes on 28 May. The Balearic island of Ibiza (IBZ) got connections from both Cardiff (CWL) in Wales twice-weekly and East Midlands (EMA) in England thrice-weekly. Meanwhile, East Midlands also got a service to Verona (VRN) by northern Italy’s Lake Garda. While the Italian service is uncontested and previously unserved, the two routes to the Spanish island face competition. From the Welsh capital, Thomson flies three times weekly and Thomas Cook once a week, while competition at East Midlands comes from the same airlines with the same frequencies as well as three weekly flights on Ryanair.
Cirrus Airlines Route Launch

It was a bright morning when the first flight of Cirrus Airlines departed for Salzburg from Münster/Osnabrück. The German airport’s Manager Aviation Marketing Detlef Döbberthin (left) and VP Marketing and Communication Andrés Heinemann (right) welcomed the crew of the Dornier 328 with flowers before the first passengers boarded.

  • Cirrus Airlines, the German regional airline, on 30 May launched its second route out of Münster/Osnabrück (FMO) in northwest Germany. The airline now flies to Salzburg (SZG) in Austria five times weekly with its Dornier 328 aircraft. The flights are scheduled Monday to Friday with a morning departure at 10:10 from Münster/Osnabrück and a late afternoon return at 16:00. The 615-kilometre route complements the airline’s services to Münster/Osnabrück from Stuttgart.
  • CSA Czech Airlines added another French destination to its network as the SkyTeam airline connected its Prague (PRG) hub with Bordeaux (BOD) in southwest France. This is the airline’s fourth French airport after Paris CDG, Strasbourg and Marseille. Flights on the new route are operated twice a week, on Thursdays and Sundays, until the end of the summer scheduling season with 102-seat 737-500s. Czech Airlines has previously served Bordeaux in 2005-2006, although flights were then operated from Paris CDG.
  • Delta Air Lines was one of two airlines to on 26 May launch flights between New York JFK, NY (JFK) and the New England ‘summer colony’ island Martha’s Vineyard, MA (MVY). Flights operate daily by Pinnacle Airlines with 50-seat CRJ200 aircraft, competing with jetBlue’s also daily E-190 services (see below). From 22 June, indirect competition also comes from US Airways’ 24 weekly flights from New York LaGuardia. The last time New York JFK was connected with Martha’s Vineyard was in 1982 when the route was operated by National Air.
  • Edelweiss Air, the Swiss charter airline in Lufthansa Group, on 29 May began flying once a week between Zurich (ZRH) and the Spanish island of Ibiza (IBZ). Flights operate seasonally until 16 October with parent Swiss’ 97-seat Avro RJ100 aircraft and seats are both sold as scheduled through a codeshare with the also operating partner Swiss as well as through package holiday provider Kuoni. Competition comes from airberlin’s three weekly flights.
Flybe Route Launch

Flybe’s cabin crew Hannah Loughrin and Gemma Parker celebrated the new Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday flights between Belfast City in Northern Ireland to Manston in Kent, South East England.

  • Flybe launched three new routes in the last week. On 26 May, the British regional airline launched a second route to Manston (MSE) in Kent, South East England. Having served the airport from both Edinburgh and Manchester, the latter route was abandoned in April, but Flybe now also serves Manston from Belfast City (BHD) in Northern Ireland three times weekly with 78-seat Q400s. The airline also continued its expansion of French routes from Southampton (SOU), routes that strictly speaking were included in the celebrations that were awarded last week’s Cake of the Week. On 25 May, the airline began serving Pau (PUF) by the Pyrenees, a route that will operate seasonally until 7 September, and two days later, flights were launched to Béziers (BZR) near the Mediterranean coast. The latter route is also operated seasonally, until 10 September. Each of the two routes is operated twice-weekly with 118-seat E-195 aircraft.
InterSky route launch

Christian Wulf, Friedrichshafen Airport’s Head of Sales & Marketing; Roger Hohl, InterSky’s Head of Sales & Communications; Daniel Lecci, First Officer; Virna Romo-Wolf, Chief Cabin Attendant; and Barbara Rief, Captain & Safety Manager held the ribbon for the airline’s first and fully booked flight to Menorca. Flights operate once a week in cooperation with TUI Deutschland.

  • InterSky in cooperation with TUI Germany launched a service between its Friedrichshafen (FDH) base in southernmost Germany and Mahon (MAH) on the Spanish Balearic island of Menorca. As of 29 May, flights operate weekly with 50-seat Q300 aircraft.
  • jetBlue launched two new domestic US routes on 26 May. From Boston, MA (BOS), the airline launched the transcontinental service to Portland, OR (PDX), a distance of 4,080 kilometres. Flights operate daily with 150-seat A320s, competing with Alaska Airlines’ also daily flights. From New York JFK, NY (JFK), jetBlue was the second airline to launch a daily service to Martha’s Vineyard, MA (MVY). With its 100-seat E-190 aircraft, the jetBlue competes with Delta’s also daily CRJ200 service (see above). From 22 June, indirect competition also comes from US Airways’ 24 weekly flights from New York LaGuardia. The last time New York JFK was connected with Martha’s Vineyard was in 1982 when the route was operated by National Air.
  • Lufthansa launched one of many new routes to Spain’s Balearic Islands on 28 May when the airline added a weekly service between its Munich (MUC) hub and Ibiza (IBZ) with its 126-seat A319s. Competition comes from airberlin’s and Condor’s each four weekly flights.
  • Pegasus Airlines, the Turkish low-cost carrier, on 30 May launched a weekly service between Bodrum (BJV) and London Gatwick (LGW), complementing its also weekly service between Bodrum and London Stansted. Flights operate with 189-seat 737-800s. This is the airline’s third route to Gatwick, complementing its services from Antalya and Dalaman.
  • Ryanair launched three new routes in the last week with its single fleet of 189-seat 737-800s. On 24 May, the pan-European low-cost carrier launched two weekly flights between Spain’s capital Madrid (MAD) and Poznan (POZ) in western Poland. This is the airline’s third Spanish route to the Polish airport after Alicante and Girona. The following day, Ryanair launched a twice-weekly service between Brussels Charleroi (CRL) in Belgium and Genoa (GOA), the port city in northwest Italy, as well as four weekly flights between Bremen (BRE) in northwest Germany and Lithuania’s capital Vilnius (VNO). The route is moved from nearby Kaunas, where it has been operating in 2009 and 2010.
  • SEAIR, the Filipino low-cost carrier partnered with Tiger Airways, on 27 May launched a new international service with 144-seat A319s leased from its Singaporean partner airline. From its base at Clark (CRK) near Manila, the airline now flies daily to the Chinese Special Administrative Region Macau (MFM), complementing its services to nearby Hong Kong. Cebu Pacific provides competition on the new route with its four weekly flights.
  • SkyWork, the Swiss regional airline analysed this week, on 24 May launched a new weekly service between its base at the Swiss country capital Bern (BRN) and the Balearic island of Ibiza (IBZ). Flights operate seasonally with Q400 aircraft until 8 October.
Sun Country Airlines Route Launch

Sun Country Airlines’ 737-800 was saluted by the fire department as it arrived to London Gatwick. The airline this summer flies across the Atlantic once a week, on Fridays, returning on Sundays.

  • Sun Country Airlines, the US low-cost airline based at Minneapolis/St Paul, MN (MSP), on 27 May connected its home base with London Gatwick (LGW). The 737-800 aircraft operate the route with a technical stop in Gander (YQX). The weekly seasonal service, which is to operate until 4 September, replaces the summer London service Sun Country Airlines operated last year to London Stansted. While outbound flights operate on Fridays, the return sector departs the UK on Sundays. Indirect competition comes from Delta’s daily service between Twin Cities and London Heathrow.
TAP Portugal Route Launch

Posing with the crew at the ribbon cutting ceremony for TAP Portugal’s arrival in Vienna were Belina Neumann, Vienna Airport’s Senior Manager Aviation Marketing; Frank Zehle, TAP Portugal’s GM Germany & Austria; Friedrich Lehr, Vienna Airport’s SEVP Aviation; Luiz Mór, EVP TAP Portugal; Bernardo Trindade, Portuguese State Secretary for Tourism; and Stefan Ehrengruber, Vienna Airport’s Head of Aviation & Business Development.

  • TAP Portugal expanded its European network as it on 27 May launched a service between its Lisbon (LIS) hub and Vienna (VIE). In the Austrian capital, the Star Alliance airline connects with its partner Austrian Airlines. Flights operate five times weekly with a mix of 132-seat A319s and 160-seat A320s. The route was last operated by the now defunct low-cost carrier SkyEurope between October 2007 and the airline’s demise in September 2009. Luiz Mór, Executive Member of the Board of TAP, commented: “This route to Vienna as well as the new ones introduced this summer represent in the whole a great effort for TAP in consolidating its positioning as an international leading airline connecting Europe, Africa and Brazil.”
  • TUIfly on 28 May launched three routes from across Germany to Ibiza (IBZ). The airline now flies to the Balearic island from Düsseldorf (DUS), Frankfurt (FRA) and Stuttgart (STR). Each of the routes is operated twice-weekly, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, with 189-seat 737-800s. From Düsseldorf, airberlin competes with nine weekly flights and Condor with three flights a week, while from Frankfurt, Condor operates three times weekly and airberlin once a week. From Stuttgart, there is yet another competitor as germanwings flies three times weekly alongside Condor’s three and airberlin’s two weekly flights.

Turan Air’s representatives were welcomed to Novosibirsk in Siberia, the airline’s third Russian destination. Dignitaries and passengers received goody bags on arrival. A press conference was then held, informing about the Azerbaijani carrier now flying once a week from its Baku base.

  • Turan Air, the Azerbaijani Tu-154M operator, on 25 May added its third Russian destination as it connected its Baku (GYD) base with Novosibirsk (OVB) with a weekly flight. The Siberian airport follows the airline’s existing Russian destinations Moscow Domodedovo and Yekaterinburg. Competition comes from S7’s and Azerbaijan Airlines’ each also weekly flights.

The ribbon for Turkish Airlines’ return to Thessaloniki after a 10-year hiatus was cut by Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris; Turkish Airlines’ Chairman Hamdi Topçu; Greek Regional Development Alternate Minister Socratis Xenidis and Apostolos Tzitzikostas, Regional Vice-Governor of Central Macedonia. A press conference was then held, but there is regrettably no other picture of the cake than the piece Topçu was offered by Xenidis.

  • Turkish Airlines began serving its second Greek destination after Athens on 27 May. From its Istanbul Atatürk (IST) hub, the Star Alliance airline now flies four times weekly to Thessaloniki (SKG), its neighbour country’s second-largest city, where it connects with the network of alliance partner Aegean’s secondary base. Flights on the 500-kilometre route operate with 159-seat A320s on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The route is in fact a resumption, as the airline served the city in 2000-2001. More recently, the route has been operated by Olympic Air and its predecessors between 1993 and 2009. At a press conference in Thessaloniki, Turkish Airlines’ chairman Hamdi Topçu commented: “These flights will bring the two sides of the Aegean Sea closer.”
  • Ural Airlines launched three new international routes in the last week from two of its bases across Russia. From Krasnoyarsk (KJA), the third-largest city in Siberia, the airline now flies twice a week, on Thursdays and Saturdays, to Harbin (HRB), the city in northeast China with strong Russian links. The route launched on 26 May marks the first time the two airports are connected. From Samara (KUF) in southeastern European Russia, the airline launched two seasonal Mediterranean routes. On 27 May, Ural Airlines began serving Larnaca (LCA) in Cyprus with a weekly flight until 16 September, while the airline two days later launched a flight to Barcelona (BCN) in Spain, also operating once weekly, but until 2 October. Each of the three new routes is operated with 159-seat A320 aircraft. While the Barcelona route never previously has been operated, Samara Airlines flew to Larnaca between 1999 and 2002.
  • UTair, the Russian airline, launched a domestic service on 30 May between Ufa (UFA), located between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains, and Mineralnye Vody (MRV) in southern Russia, a distance of 1,475 kilometres. Flights operate twice-weekly, on Mondays and Thursdays, with Tu-134 aircraft. Competition comes from Continent Airlines’ bi-weekly service.

Sir Richard Branson was on site to celebrate Virgin America’s arrival at Chicago O’Hare. In his boxing outfit, he welcomed actor Adrian Grenier off the aircraft. In the gate area, Branson posed with the crew, of which the pilots were dressed in Blues Brothers-themed uniforms. Together with Airport Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino and Virgin America’s CEO David Cush, Branson took the Blue Line Train to the city centre.

  • Virgin America expanded its network with another major domestic hub added to its network. The airline now takes on the US majors from its bases in San Francisco, CA (SFO) and Los Angeles, CA (LAX) to Chicago O’Hare (ORD). On 25 May, the premium airline launched 21 weekly flights from SF and 14 flights a week from LA. Competition on the SF route comes from United’s 102, American’s 42 and Continental’s 12 weekly flights, while the LA services face United’s 76, American’s 70 and Spirit’s seven flights a week. Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino commented: “Virgin America’s products and services are a great fit for the City of Chicago and O’Hare International Airport as we continue to provide world-class service to travellers.”

Previous weeks’ route launches

The cake welcoming Air Transat to Istanbul Atatürk was cut by TAV Istanbul General Manager Kemal Ünlü and Air Transat’s Marketing Director Myléne Couture. Celebrations were held for the route from Toronto via Montreal, which  launched on 16 May .

Other recent celebrations

Air Canada Route Launch Brussels

Brussels Airport celebrated the upgrade of Air Canada’s daily flight of to Montreal from a 767-300ER to a larger A330-300. This route was only started on 14 June 2010 and the larger aircraft will operate at least until the end of the summer season.

flydubai 2 year anniversary

The fast-growing low-cost carrier flydubai turned two on 31 May. In two years, the airline has expanded to operate to 36 destinations with 16 aircraft.

Branson Airport in Missouri celebrated its second anniversary on 11 May and baked an impressive cake for the occasion. Has everyone else noticed the uncanny likeness between the figure on the cake and Branson’s executive director, Jeff Bourk?

Ryanair on 2 June welcomed its 260-millionth passenger on its flights to and from the UK

Ryanair on 2 June welcomed its 260-millionth passenger on its flights to and from the UK. The lucky passenger Louise Ansell cut the celebratory cake, flanked by Bristol Airport’s Head of Sales and Marketing Jason Westcott and Ryanair’s Sales and Marketing Executive Maria Macken as well as the passenger’s daughters Sophia (7) and Annabel (8).


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