New airline routes launched (30 August – 5 September 2011)
Route of the Week:
IndiGo’s Delhi to Dubai
- IndiGo, the Indian low-cost carrier, reached five years of domestic operations last month, meaning that the airline now is able to fly internationally. As of 1 September, IndiGo therefore flies daily from Delhi (DEL) to Dubai (DXB) with its single fleet of 180-seat A230s. The airline with ambitious growth plans – well over 200 aircraft on order – already has six further international routes announced. The new Dubai service faces considerable competition, but from no other low-cost carrier. Emirates operates four times daily and Air India twice-daily, while Kingfisher and Jet Airways each serve the route on a daily basis.
Cake of the Week:
Estonian Air’s Tallinn to Trondheim
- Estonian Air, the airline analysed this week, launched two routes from its Tallinn (TLL) base on 5 September. The airline resumed services to Lithuania’s capital Vilnius (VNO) that now operate nine times weekly with 33-seat Saab 340 aircraft leased from Golden Air of Sweden. These flights compete with airBaltic’s 11 flights a week. Estonian Air has previously operated the route on and off since 1992 and it was last dropped in March this year. The airline’s new route to Trondheim (TRD) marks the launch of the airline’s second Norwegian route after Oslo. Flights operate five times weekly with a mixture of the airline’s 737 and CRJ900 aircraft. This is the first time Estonia’s capital is connected with a regional airport in Norway. At Trondheim, the airline partly owned by SAS connects with the pan-Scandinavian national carrier and its subsidiaries.
The rest of this week’s new routes
- British Airways, through its South African franchise carrier Comair, launched two new international routes from a new airport to its network; Lanseria (HLA), which serves both Johannesburg and Pretoria. On 1 September, the airline began flying both daily to Gaborone (GBE), the capital of Botswana, and eight times weekly to Maputo (MPM), the capital of Mozambique. Both routes are operated with a single 48-seat ATR42 aircraft leased from Solenta Aviation. Although these flights are the first international services at Lanseria, indirect competition comes from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo Airport where South African Airways (SAA) and Air Botswana respectively serve Gaborone 46 and 29 times a week, while Maputo is served thrice-daily by LAM and twice-daily by SAA. Stuart Cochrane, Executive Manager for Network Development and Alliances at Comair commented: “As part of our broader network development strategy we have been exploring the idea of a regional hub at Lanseria airport as part of our expansion plans into Africa for some time. We are confident that the implementation of this first phase of expansion will be well received by our customers and provide them with an alternative to current regional flights operating from OR Tambo International Airport.”
- Cathay Pacific has launched its fourth route to the United States, following flights to New York JFK, Los Angeles and San Francisco. On 1 September, the oneworld airline began flying between its Hong Kong (HKG) hub and Chicago O’Hare (ORD) where the daily flights connect with its alliance partner American Airlines. Cathay Pacific already serves Chicago with all-cargo services since 1996. The new passenger flights are operated with 297-seat 777-300ER aircraft, competing with United’s also daily flights on the same route. The first operations in each direction both achieved load factors in excess of 95%. Scott Mowrer, Cathay Pacific’s SVP Americas, said: “While this is our first passenger flight to the city, we know the way back to Hong Kong better than any other airline. Once there, there’s a whole lot of world we can fly you to, including mainland China, where Chicago has so many established and growing ties.”
- Flybe launched its third route to Amsterdam (AMS) on 5 September after services from Southampton and Exeter. The British regional airline now flies six times weekly from Inverness (INV) in the Scottish Highlands with 78-seat Q400 aircraft. This is the third international route to and from Inverness after Helvetic’s Zurich route and Lufthansa’s services from Düsseldorf. Flybe’s new route has been served in the past, last by ScotAirways in 2001 and prior to that by KLM UK in 1997-1998. Flybe reports that the route already shows strong demand in both directions and that connecting itineraries that have performed particularly well are Stornoway to Amsterdam via Inverness and Stuttgart to Inverness via Amsterdam. Andrew Strong, Managing Director Flybe UK, commented: “The volume of bookings we have received to date is very promising and an early indication of the route’s success. The fact it has proved popular with both the business and leisure markets is particularly pleasing as it shows that passengers from both countries are benefitting from this convenient and affordable route in order to visit these fantastic destinations.”
- Hong Kong Airlines, the airline analysed this week, added another city in Mainland China to its network on 1 September. The airline now flies daily between its Hong Kong (HKG) base and the mega city of Chongqing (CKG). Flights are operated with 164-seat 737-800s, competing with Air China’s and Dragonair’s also each daily flights.
- Jetisfaction, the German regional carrier, launched a new service from Münster/Osnabrück (FMO) in northwest Germany to Zurich (ZRH) in Switzerland on 5 September. Flights are operated six times weekly – twice-daily on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays – with 34-seat Saab 340A aircraft operated by SkyTaxi of Poland.
- Mahan Air launched its third new route for 2011 on 2 September, following services to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen and between Mashad and Kuala Lumpur. The Iranian airline now serves its first destination in China; Shanghai Pudong (PVG) from its base in Tehran (IKA). The flights, which are operated with 425-seat 747-400s, are initially operated twice weekly, but the airline hopes to double frequencies to four times weekly in the next six months, as regulatory approvals are granted. This is the third route between Iran and China after China Southern’s flights between Tehran and Ürümqi as well as IranAir’s flights to Beijing from Tehran. At the launch celebrations in Shanghai, Hossein Hosseini, Mahan Air’s Director of Marketing and Route Development, said : “On behalf of Mahan Air, I am delighted to see our aircraft now offering non-stop services to the great city of Shanghai and after more than two years of planning, we are finally on China’s soil. It is with great pride that we are able to offer the business and leisure communities of these two great cities – and cities within the China and the Middle East and beyond – with a great new direct flight.”
- SAS Scandinavian Airlines relaunched services between its Copenhagen (CPH) hub and Palma de Mallorca (PMI) on 3 September. The airline dropped the route to the Mediterranean island in 2005 when it was handed over to its then subsidiary Spanair that eventually also dropped the route in 2009. The new flights are operated twice-weekly, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with a mix of A319 and MD80 aircraft. At the start of next year’s summer season, frequencies are planned to double to four flights a week. Although the route currently faces competition from airberlin’s four weekly flights and Cimber Sterling’s and Norwegian’s each three flights a week, all competing services are operated during the summer season only, whereas SAS will operate year-round and thereby be the sole operator in winter.
- SkyWork, the Swiss regional airline based in the country capital Bern (BRN), launched two new routes capital cities of two neighbouring countries on 5 September. The airline now flies six times weekly to Vienna (VIE) in Austria and five times weekly to Rome Fiumicino (FCO) in Italy. 31-seat Dornier 328 aircraft are used on both routes. Tomislav Lang, CEO SkyWork Airlines, commented: “I am delighted to be able to offer customers an ever wider choice from Bern. Our aim is to grow as an attractive and dependable partner and employer in the region. This also includes an on-going expansion of the route network.” This winter, the airline plans to launch four further routes – Amsterdam, Belgrade, Budapest and Madrid – bringing its number of destinations served from Bern to 14.
- TAAG Angola relaunched services to China’s capital Beijing (PEK) on 30 August. The airline operates the 11,775-kilometre route from Luanda (LAD) non-stop once a week with 255-seat 777-200ER aircraft. Although no other airline operates the ultra-long route non-stop, Hainan Airlines also serves the airport pair with a twice-weekly service stopping in Dubai. Notably, there are considerable Chinese economic ties with Angola, which is China’s largest trading partner in Africa.
- Tianjin Airlines, the Hainan Airlines subsidiary, launched a flight to the brand new airport in Jinchang (IATA code not yet assigned) in Gansu Province in northwest China on 2 September. With its 50-seat ERJ145 aircraft, the airline now flies four times weekly from Xi’an (XIY) in the central part of the country via Lanzhou (ZGC), also located in Gansu Province.
- UTair, the expanding Russian airline analysed last week, added another country market to its network on 1 September when the airline launched a daily service from its Moscow Vnukovo (VKO) hub to Minsk-1 (MHP), the city airport serving the capital of Belarus. The 650-kilometre service is operated with 70-seat ATR72 aircraft. Notably, this is the only scheduled commercial service between any Moscow airport and Minsk 1, although UTair faces indirect competition at Minsk International. Belavia flies three times daily to Moscow Domodedovo, twice-daily to Moscow Sheremetyevo and daily to Moscow Vnukovo, while Aeroflot operates 13 times weekly from Moscow Sheremetyevo.