New airline routes launched (28 February – 5 March 2012)
Route of the Week: SAS’ Copenhagen to Shanghai
- SAS Scandinavian Airlines resumed its route to Shanghai Pudong (PVG) on 1 March. From its Copenhagen (CPH) hub, the Star Alliance airline now flies five times weekly to its second Chinese destination, after Beijing, with 245-seat A340-300 aircraft. The A340 has returned to SAS’ fleet after having been leased out to HiFly of Portugal for two years. SAS previously operated the route between 2004 and 2007. The airline now reportedly expects 100,000-120,000 annual passengers on the route, which is operated out of Copenhagen on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, returning the following day. About 25% of passengers are expected to be Chinese. Scandinavian Airlines’ CCO Robin Kamark commented: “The demand for traffic to China is again growing significantly and we see the need for an additional route, complementing our successful Copenhagen-Beijing and other Asian routes. This new service also offers a multitude of smooth transfers on both ends, making it an accessible and quick route for many European and Asian travellers.”
Cake of the Week: Emirates’ Dubai to Seattle Tacoma
- Emirates continued expanding its US network by launching its sixth route to the country on 1 March. The airline now flies from its Dubai (DXB) hub to Seattle, WA (SEA), the airport analysed this week. The route across the North Pole is ‘only’ 12,000-kilometre and operates daily, for the first few operations with 777-300ER aircraft, then with 266-seat 777-200LRs. Except for the obvious traffic flows between Seattle and India, generated by the strong IT industry links, the airline highlights the new route’s cargo opportunities.
The rest of this week’s new routes
- 1time, the South African low-cost airline, saw two major developments to its network take place on 5 March. The airline, which operates MD83 aircraft, launched its third international route, connecting Johannesburg (JNB) with Mombasa (MBA) in Kenya with two weekly flights. The route follows the airline’s international operations to Zanzibar and Livingstone. This is the first time the two airports are connected non-stop since Kenya Airways operated the route 2004-2008. The airline also added another South African airport to its network; Lanseria (HLA), located between Johannesburg and Pretoria. The new routes to Cape Town (CPT) and Durban (DUR) each operate twice-daily. The Cape Town route competes with fellow LCCs Kulula.com and Mango, which operate 46 and 20 weekly frequencies respectively, while the Durban route faces Kulula.com’s 36 flights a week.
- Air New Zealand took over routes between the Australian mainland and Norfolk Island (NLK) in the last week, as the virtual airline Norfolk Air shut down. As of 2 March, the Star Alliance airline flies twice-weekly to Sydney (SYD) and from the following day, also twice-weekly to Brisbane (BNE) from the island in the north of the Tasman Sea, between New Zealand and Australia. Both routes are operated with A320 aircraft. The airline has already served the island from its Auckland hub since 1990.
- Buddha Air, the Nepalese regional airline, relaunched international operations on 1 March when the airline connected Kathmandu (KTM) with Varanasi (VNS) in India. The 350-kilometre route is operated four times weekly with ATR42 aircraft, competing with Air India’s also four weekly operations.
- Central Connect Airlines took over two routes from CSA Czech Airlines on 4 March. The regional airline now flies each 12 times weekly with its 33-seat Saab 340s from the Czech capital Prague (PRG) to the capitals of Slovenia and Germany; Ljubljana (LJU) and Berlin Tegel (TXL). Czech Airlines retains access to the markets by codesharing on the flights.
- Delta Air Lines launched two new routes on 2 March; one international and one domestic. From New York LaGuardia, NY (LGA), the SkyTeam airline now flies daily to Nassau (NAS) in the Bahamas with MD88 aircraft. This means that the Bahaman airport now is served from all the three main New York City airports, as JetBlue operates 19 times weekly from JFK and United 10 times a week from Newark. Delta also launched daily flights from Salt Lake City, UT (SLC) to Charlotte, NC (CLT) on the same date. The flights, which are operated with A320s, notably face competition from US Airways’ also daily A320 flights that launched only two days later.
- Etihad began serving its third destination in Mainland China on 1 March when the airline connected its Abu Dhabi (AUH) hub with Shanghai Pudong (PVG). The route, which follows the airline’s operations to Beijing and recently launched Chengdu, is operated five times weekly. Initially, the airline deploys two-class 262-seat A330-200 aircraft on the route, but from the start of the summer scheduling season, seat capacity is decreased in spite of the switch to larger aircraft, as the airline begins operating three-class 231-seat A330-300s on the route. This is notably Etihad’s first Chinese route to feature aircraft with all three cabin classes. James Hogan, Etihad’s President and CEO, commented: “The new Shanghai route adds much more than just another destination to the Etihad Airways global network. It brings the capital of the UAE and the commercial and financial centre of mainland China closer together and creates new opportunities for government, trade, tourism and cultural exchange.”
- Hong Kong Airlines launched three new routes out of its Hong Kong (HKG) hub on 1 March; two to Taiwan and one to Mainland China. With 21 weekly flights, the airline moved into the intensely competitive route to the Taiwanese capital Taipei (TPE), using A330-200 aircraft. Competition comes from Cathay Pacific’s 108, China Airlines’ 78, EVA Air’s 49 and Dragonair’s also 21 weekly flights. Also competitive is Hong Kong Airlines’ other new Taiwanese route to Kaohsiung (KHH), which the airline now operates six times weekly with 737-800s. It is operated in competition with Dragonair’s 41, China Airlines’ 18 and Mandarin Airlines’ 11 flights a week. Hong Kong Airlines’ new Mainland China service is a daily 737-500 operation to Nanjing (NKG), which competes with Dragonair’s double daily operation and China Eastern’s also daily flights.
- Hong Kong Express expanded its Mainland China network on 5 March when the airline launched three weekly flights from Hong Kong (HKG) to Xi’an (XIY). The flights, which are operated with 737-800 aircraft, compete with China Eastern’s daily operation on the route.
- Norwegian continued expanding at Oslo Torp (TRF), as detailed in this week’s airline analysis (LINK!!!), when the fast-growing low-cost airline launched two domestic routes. Bergen (BGO) and Trondheim (TRD) are now each served 12 times weekly with the airline’s 737-800 aircraft. Competition comes from Widerøe, which operates 37 times a week to Bergen and 23 times weekly on the Trondheim route.
- Peach, the Japanese start-up low-cost airline launched in partnership with ANA, commenced operations on 1 March, as detailed in this week’s airline analysis. From its base at Osaka Kansai (KIX), Peach now flies its A320 aircraft on two domestic routes. By autumn this year, the base airport’s low-cost terminal will be completed, allowing further growth in the low-cost segment. Peach now serves Fukuoka (FUK) in the south of the country four times daily, competing with ANA’s twice-daily flights, while Sapporo Chitose (CTS) in the north of Japan is served thrice-daily by Peach in competition with ANA’s 35 and JAL’s 28 flights a week.
- SeaPort Airlines, the US regional carrier, launched a new stopping service from Washington State to its Portland, OR (PDX) base on 1 March. From Wenatchee, WA (EAT), the airline now operates via Yakima, WA (YKM) 16 times weekly with its fleet of 9-seat Cessna Caravan 208s.
- Thai AirAsia became the second airline in AirAsia Group after Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia to serve Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo (CMB) on 1 March. The Thai airline now operates daily from Bangkok (BKK) with its 180-seat A320 aircraft, competing with SriLankan Airlines’ twice-daily, Thai’s four weekly and Cathay Pacific’s three weekly flights. The first flight achieved an 80% load factor and Tassapon Bijleveld, CEO of Thai AirAsia, commented: “Since tickets for this route went on sale on 4 January 2012, we have received tremendous positive feedback and we are very pleased to see that there is much demand for travel between the two cities.”
- Transaero, the expanding Russian airline, launched a new service between the capitals of Russia and Armenia on 29 February. From its Moscow Domodedovo (DME) hub, the airline now flies four times weekly – on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays – with its 101-seat 737-500 aircraft to Yerevan (EVN). However, from the start of the summer scheduling season, frequencies increase to daily. Direct competition comes from S7’s twice-daily and Armavia’s daily flights, but there is also indirect competition for Transaero at Moscow Sheremetyevo from Aeroflot’s thrice-daily operations and at Moscow Vnukovo from Armavia’s additional twice-daily operations.
- US Airways launched two new domestic routes on 4 March. From its Charlotte, NC (CLT) hub, the Star Alliance airline now operates daily to Salt Lake City, UT (SLC) with A320 aircraft; notably a route launched with the same frequency by Delta two days earlier. Meanwhile, the airline connected the US capital airport Washington National, DC (DCA) with Jackson, MS (JAN). The daily 69-seat E-170 operation (operated by Republic Airlines) is the airline’s second to the Mississippi airport after Charlotte services. “Our new service will provide a direct link to Washington, D.C. for business, government, military and leisure travelers in Mississippi,” said Andrew Nocella, US Airways’ SVP marketing and planning.