New airline routes launched (7 – 13 February 2012)

Route of the Week: Swiss International Air Lines’
Zurich to Beijing

The ribbon for Swiss’ new route to Beijing was cut by Wu Ken, China’s ambassador to Switzerland; Doris Leuthard, Switzerland’s minister of transport; Bruno Gehrig, Swiss International Air Lines’ chairman; and Harry Hohmeister, CEO Swiss.

On arrival in the Chinese capital, the crew received a warm welcoming and the dignitaries alongside the airline’s chief representative in China, Li Yuan, were presented with a rose creation of the airline’s tailfin.

  • Swiss International Air Lines launched two new routes in the last week; one short-haul and one long-haul. On 10 February, the Lufthansa-owned Star Alliance member stationed its tenth aircraft in Geneva (GVA), an A319, and began operating twice-daily to Nice (NCE); a distance of 300 kilometres. At the start of the summer season, frequencies will increase to thrice-daily. Competition on the route comes from easyJet’s 17 flights a week. On 11 February, Swiss launched a route from its main hub at Zurich (ZRH) to China’s capital Beijing (PEK). The route, which is operated daily with 219-seat A340-300 aircraft, is Swiss’ third to China after Hong Kong and Shanghai Pudong. The airline’s leisure subsidiary Edelweiss Air previously operated the Beijing route once weekly between July and October last year. Competition on the route comes from Hainan Airlines’ twice-weekly operations. “We warmly welcome this new non-stop service between Zurich and Beijing,” said Swiss Minister of Transport Doris Leuthard. “Well-functioning air links are vital to good relations between Switzerland and China. Over 400,000 Chinese travellers visited Switzerland in summer 2011 alone, and trading volumes between our two countries increased 11.6 per cent last year to more than CHF 15 billion. I’m convinced that everyone will benefit from the new service.”

Cake of the Week: flydubai’s Dubai to Bishkek

flydubai launches new route to Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek from Dubai

Cutting the cake that welcomed flydubai to Kyrgyzstan were the airline’s CCO Hamad Obaidalla; Uzar Kamelov, Head of the Department of International Economic Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Kyrgyz Republic; and UAE Assistant Minister for Economic Affairs Khalid Al Ghaith.

  • flydubai added another country market to its network on 7 February when the low-cost airline connected its Dubai (DXB) base with Bishkek (FRU), the capital of Kyrgyzstan. Flights operate twice-weekly with the airline’s 189-seat 737-800s, competing with Kyrgyzstan Air Company’s flights with the same frequency. Inaugurating the first flight, Hamad Obaidalla, flydubai’s CCO, said: “Today is a momentous day for flydubai. Not only is Bishkek the 50th destination we have started operations to, but it also marks our entry into the Kyrgyz Republic. I’d like to thank the authorities for their help with starting this service, which I am sure will be well received by passengers around our network.”

The rest of this week’s new routes

These pictures are not from Airphil Express’ Cebu expansion, but we now have this photo evidence of the celebrations for the airline’s 31 January launch celebrations in Pagadian for the new Manila route.

  • Airphil Express last week launched five domestic routes out of the Philippines’ second-largest city Cebu (CEB). The low-cost airline, which faces competition on all but one of the routes, will operate the services with its 76-seat Q400 aircraft. The fast-growing airline now operates 14 routes from Cebu and expects to double its passenger numbers this year compared with last.
Date Destination WF* Competition (WF*)
10-Feb-12 Cotabato (CBO) 3
09-Feb-12 Kalibo (KLO) 4 Philippine Airlines (7)
10-Feb-12 Legazpi (LGP) 3 Cebu Pacific (7), Philippine Airlines (3)
09-Feb-12 Pagadian (PAG) 7 Cebu Pacific (7), Philippine Airlines (4)
09-Feb-12 Surigao (SUG) 4 Cebu Pacific (7), Philippine Airlines (4)
*WF: Weekly Frequency

  • Caribbean Airlines expanded its intra-Caribbean network on 10 February when the airline launched a daily service from its Port of Spain (POS) base in Trinidad to George FL Charles Airport in St Lucia (SLU). Flights are operated with the airline’s new 68-seat ATR72 aircraft and compete with the struggling airline LIAT’s 10 weekly flights on the same route. Robert Corbie, the airline’s acting CEO, said: “The addition of this route solidifies our commitment to provide our customers with more options for travel within the Caribbean. St Lucia has been of strategic interest to us and we are excited to offer our CARICOM neighbours reliable scheduled airlift within the Caribbean.”

easyJet launches new route from Paris to Verona

easyJet’s second route to Verona in northern Italy is from Paris Charles de Gaulle. This follows the low-cost airline’s route from its largest base at London Gatwick.

  • easyJet launched its second route to Verona (VRN) in northern Italy on 9 February. In time for Valentine’s Day, the low-cost airline connected the city with the main airport of another romantic city; Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG). The flights to the gateway to the Italian Alps operate three times weekly with 156-seat A319s and complement the airline’s London Gatwick flights. Competition on the new route comes from Air France’s 20 flights a week.

  • Garuda Indonesia launched a new domestic route on 10 February when the Indonesian national carrier connected Bandung (BDO), the capital of West Java province, with Surabaya (SUB), the capital of East Java province. The airline that is due to join SkyTeam this year now operates the 580-kilometre route daily with its 96-seat 737-500s. Competition comes from Merpati Nusantara Airline’s twice-daily and Sriwijaya Air’s daily flights. From 14 February, Indonesia AirAsia also competes with a daily operation.

  • IndiGo resumed the domestic route between Bengaluru (BLR), also known as Bangalore, and Jaipur (JAI) on 10 February when the Indian low-cost airline began operating the route daily with its 180-seat A320s. The airline previously operated between the two airports in May and June last year. Aditya Ghosh, President IndiGo, said “Jaipur holds a lot of promise for us at IndiGo. With our high quality of service at prices that are always affordable, I am sure that we will meet the burgeoning demand for air travel to and from Jaipur.”

  • MASwings, Malaysia Airlines’ regional subsidiary, launched a new international route within the island of Borneo on 13 February. The airline now flies from Tawau (TWU) in Sabah on the Malaysian side of the island to Tarakan (TRK) on the Indonesian side – a distance of 125 kilometres. Flights operate three times weekly with 68-seat ATR72 aircraft.

Austin welcomed Southwest’s Atlanta route with cupcakes decorated with Georgia peaches on top.

  • Southwest Airlines, the airline analysed this week, launched five new routes on 12 February, in addition to taking over frequencies on routes already operated by its subsidiary AirTran on the same day. From the AirTran base in Atlanta, GA (ATL), Southwest now operates the new twice-daily route to Austin, TX (AUS) in competition with Delta’s 39 flights a week. From Georgia’s capital, it also serves Baltimore/Washington, MD (BWI) thrice-daily in competition with Delta’s 68 and subsidiary AirTran’s 26 weekly flights, Chicago Midway, IL (DEN) also thrice-daily, competing with the same two airlines that operate 46 and 23 weekly flights respectively, and Houston Hobby, TX (HOU) twice-daily, which faces Delta’s 49 and AirTran’s 20 flights a week. One further Atlanta route was launched in competition with an entire four other airlines; Denver, CO (DEN) is served twice-daily and competes with Delta’s 50, United’s 18, Frontier’s 16 and AirTran’s 14 flights a week. From Baltimore/Washington, Southwest now also flies daily to Tucson, AZ (TUC). Three of the airline’s new routes were launched out of AirTran’s Fort Myers, FL (RSW) base; each daily to colder climates in Hartford, CT (BDL), Providence, RI (PVD), and Long Island/Islip, NY (ISP). All of the routes are operated with the airline’s 737-700s.

Spirit Airlines is the second airline customer at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Arizona. The low-cost airlines now compete on the route to Las Vegas, as celebrated by Vegas showgirls and Spirit’s Director of Sales, Michael Pewther.

  • Spirit Airlines launched four new routes with its 145-seat A319s on 9 February. The low-cost airline expanded out of Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DFW) with three routes; each daily flights to Atlanta, GA (ATL), New York LaGuardia (LGA) and Orlando, FL (MCO). Competition to Atlanta comes from Delta’s 74 and American Airlines’ 62 weekly flights, while American competes on the LaGuardia and Orlando routes with 98 and 70 weekly flights respectively. “We welcome the addition of new Spirit Airlines service from DFW to Atlanta, Orlando and New York City, and we are pleased to see even more flights coming later this spring,” said Jeff Fegan, CEO of DFW International Airport. “Spirit’s tremendous expansion at our Airport means that our passengers will benefit from having more travel options and more choices to fly.” The same day, Spirit also added a new airport to its network when the airline launched twice-daily flights from its Las Vegas, NV (LAS) base to Phoenix-Mesa, AZ (AZA). This makes Spirit Airlines the second airline customer at Phoenix-Mesa after Allegiant Air, which also competes on the new route with its 12 weekly flights. “We are excited to welcome Spirit’s first flight from Las Vegas to Mesa,” City of Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said. “Each new airline and each new destination shows that Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is excelling in the midst of and in spite of the struggling economy.”

  • UTair launched its fourth route to Uzbekistan out of its Moscow Vnukovo (VKO) hub on 10 February. The airline now flies once a week to Fergana (FEG) with 737-800s. While the airline faces no direct competition at Vnukovo, three airlines operate to Fergana from Moscow Domodedovo; Uzbekistan Airways twice-weekly, Moskovia Airlines once weekly and VIM Airlines also once a week.

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