Start of northern winter season; around 250 new routes in first 10 days

With 120 new routes starting in the past week for the 2011 European Winter Season has been deluged with great route launch cakes. Instead of choosing our own Cake of the Week, like the Greek prime minister, we have decided that only the people can decide such an important issue. Please go to our Cake of the Week voting page if you don't want the "other" airlines'/airports' cake to win.

This time last year, was celebrating the fact that by our estimates, the world’s airlines were starting around 340 new routes at the start of the winter season, up an impressing 50% on the same period in 2009. Well, the second half of 2011 is proving a challenging environment for air travel as many of the world’s major economies that account for much of global commercial aviation are a long way from reporting significant growth. So in many ways, it is still pretty impressive that we estimate around 250 new routes will have been started in the first couple of weeks of this year’s winter season.

LCCs growing more cautiously; Ryanair starting less than 40 new routes

The high price of fuel (for which there is no ‘low-cost’ equivalent) is putting pressure on the business models of the world’s LCCs in particular. As evidence of this, look no further than Ryanair which this time last year started some 80 routes. This year, it is less than 40. easyJet is starting just four real new routes at the start of the winter season plus some additional new routes from mid-December aimed at the ski and ‘winter sun’ markets. Europe’s next two biggest LCCs, Norwegian and Vueling, also only have a handful of new routes each starting this winter.

787s enter commercial service; Frankfurt opens new runway

This time last year, the opening of a new runway for Tokyo Haneda was big news and this winter, Japan is again the focus of some attention as ANA finally becomes the first airline to put the Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’ into commercial service. In January, it will even be used to launch services between Tokyo Haneda and an airport that gained a new runway this autumn, Frankfurt. Meanwhile in Finland, regional carrier Finncomm has been bought by Flybe and Finnair and launches a number of new routes from Helsinki and Tallinn to celebrate the event.

China and MEB3 carriers still expanding

One market that is still growing significantly is China. Two carriers launching a raft of new routes at the start of the winter season are Shandong Airlines and Sichuan Airlines. The on-going easing of traffic right restrictions between China and Taiwan is also fuelling rapid growth in this potentially huge market.

In the Middle East, the ‘MEB3’ carriers of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways show little sign of reigning in their expansion plans. Emirates is starting new routes to St Petersburg, Baghdad, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Lusaka, Harare, Dallas/Fort Worth and Seattle all before the start of the next summer season, while Etihad is off to discover how profitable routes to Male, the Seychelles, Chengdu, Düsseldorf and Shanghai will be. Finally, Qatar Airways is spreading its network to include Benghazi, Entebbe, Chongqing, Baku, Tbilisi and Isfahan all before next March.

Free, downloadable spreadsheet with full details

As we now do every week at, a full list of all this week’s new routes (in Excel format), including details of what competition carriers face on each route, can be downloaded for free, enabling you to sort by date, airline, airport name, airport code, country market, frequency and even aircraft type.

Download the winter season 2011 new routes - part 1

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