New airline routes launched (3 – 9 April 2012)

Route of the Week:
Estonian Air’s Tallinn to Tbilisi

Estonian Air was welcomed to Georgia’s capital Tbilisi with a cake. Posing for the camera were Uğur İstiklal Basa, BTA Georgia Business Unit Manager; Akaki Barkaia, TAV Georgia Ground Handling Manager; Yavuz Aytış, TAV Georgia Terminal Operations Chief; Tea Zakaradze, TAV Georgia Corporate Communications Manager; Mete Erkal, GM TAV Georgia; Erki Sivadi, Estonian Air Manager; Temur Buzaladze, GM Discovery LTD; and Toomas Lukk, Estonian Ambassador to Georgia.

  • Having launched its only route to Germany last week, and added a total of five destinations the week before, Estonian Air took the next step towards establishing hub operation at its Tallinn (TLL) base. This week saw the airline launch services to two new destinations; Kajaani (KAJ) in Finland, and Tbilisi (TBS) in Georgia. Both destinations are offered with four weekly frequencies. While the airline uses 76-seat E-170 equipment on the Finnish route, 88-seat CRJ900s are deployed to serve the Georgian capital. There is no competition on either of the routes. Services between Tallinn and Tbilisi, that now are operated overnight, were last operated almost two decades ago by Aeroflot, which dropped the route in 1993 after three years’ operation. TAV Georgia’s GM Mete Erkal said: “Today we’re happy to welcome Estonian Air at Tbilisi Airport and we believe that this first direct flight from Estonia to Georgia will help further improve the relations between the two countries.”

Cake of the Week:
American Eagle’s Chicago O’Hare to Sioux City

From Siouxland to Chicagoland: American Eagle was welcomed to ‘Fly SUX’ with this remarkable cake featuring Sioux City’s Sergeant Floyd Monument and Gateway Arches Park. The new Essential Air Service from Chicago O’Hare replaces Delta’s Minneapolis/St Paul flights.

Cutting the ribbon for American Airlines’ first flight from Miami to Barcelona were José Abreu, Miami-Dade Aviation Director; Marilyn DeVoe, American Airlines’ VP Miami Operations; Peter Dolara, American Airlines’ SVP Mexico, Latin America and Caribbean; and Javier Ricardo, American Airlines cabin crew member.

At the Barcelona end, American Airlines’ new Miami route was also celebrated with a cake. The oneworld airline has taken over the route from its alliance partner Iberia.

  • American Airlines launched its fourth European route out of its Miami, FL (MIA) hub on 3 April when the oneworld airline began operating five times weekly to Barcelona (BCN), complementing the airline’s flights to London LHR, Madrid and Paris CDG. The route, which is operated with 225-seat 767-300ER aircraft, will see frequencies increase to daily from 14 June. The route was previously operated by its alliance partner Iberia, which launched the route a year ago, but dropped its services after a year at the end of March this year, consolidating its Madrid operations. American Airlines already serves Barcelona from New York JFK. The same day, AA’s regional subsidiary American Eagle also launched three new routes, connecting its hubs with regional airports without other scheduled commercial services as part of the US government Essential Air Service programme. Each of the routes is operated twice-daily with its 50-seat ERJ145 aircraft. From Chicago O’Hare (ORD), the airline began serving two Iowa airports; Sioux City (SUX) and Waterloo (ALO), while Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DFW) became connected with Garden City, KS (GCK).

The rest of this week’s new routes

As Air France expanded its network to the Greek capital Athens with two further routes, the airport’s Director Communications & Marketing Ioanna Papadopoulou had reason to celebrate with a cake. Cutting it was Yan Gilbert, Air France’s Country Manager Greece. Joining them at the ceremony were Paul Terstegge, Air France’s GM Greece, and Katerina Pollatou, Athens International Airport’s Head Airline Marketing.

  • Air France continued expanding its two new bases in southern France in the last week – four each from Nice (NCE) and Toulouse (TLS) – as well as launching a route from Nantes (NTE) to Ajaccio (AJA) in Corsica. Athens (ATH) and Venice (VCE) received services from both of the airline’s new bases. Notably, neither of the two routes to the Greek capital face competition.
Launch date Origin Destination WF A/c Competition (WF)
07-Apr-12 Nantes (NTE) Ajaccio (AJA) 1 CRJ1000
03-Apr-12 Nice (NCE) Athens (ATH) 3 A32S
07-Apr-12 Nice (NCE) Naples (NAP) 2 A319 easyJet (3)
04-Apr-12 Nice (NCE) Tel Aviv (TLV) 3 A320 Israir (2)
03-Apr-12 Nice (NCE) Venice (VCE) 3 A319 easyJet (3), Darwin Airline (1)
03-Apr-12 Toulouse (TLS) Athens (ATH) 4 A320
03-Apr-12 Toulouse (TLS) Istanbul Atatürk (IST) 3 A320 Turkish Airlines (5)
03-Apr-12 Toulouse (TLS) Malaga (AGP) 3 A319 Vueling (2)
03-Apr-12 Toulouse (TLS) Venice (VCE) 3 A319 easyJet (3), Vueling (3)
Source: new route database, SRS Analyser for w/c 9 April 2012

  • On 9 April, China Eastern inaugurated flights from Hangzhou (HGH) in the Yangtze River Delta region of eastern China to Jeju (CJU), which serve the South Korean island bearing the same name. The 700-kilometre route is offered with twice-weekly frequencies and operated using A320s. There is no competition on the route, which is also the first service to South Korea to be offered by the airline.

  • Darwin Airline, the Swiss regional carrier, launched a weekly service between Venice (VCE) in northeast Italy and Nice (NCE) in the south of France on 7 April. Flights operate with Saab 2000 aircraft, competing with each thrice-weekly operations on easyJet and Air France.

Celebrating Delta’s route to Haiti from Atlanta – its second to the Caribbean nation – were Alrene Barr, Manager Marketing and International Engagement, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; Candace Byrd, Chief of Staff, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed Office; and Gandy Thomas, Consul General of Haiti in Atlanta, together with employees of the Haitian Consulate General in Atlanta.

  • On 7 April, Delta expanded its Caribbean network from its Atlanta, GA (ATL) hub with a new route to Port-au-Prince (PAP) in Haiti, a route that the airline last served over 20 years ago. 150-seat A320s will be used to operate this weekly Saturday service, which complements the airline’s daily operations to the Haitian capital city from New York JFK.

  • After launching flights from London Southend (SEN) last week, easyJet has added regular flights to Alicante (ALC) in Spain and Faro (FAO) in Portugal. Both routes will be served daily once a third A319 is based at the airport from the beginning of May. A total of nine destinations will then be served by easyJet from London Southend. The airline’s base at Lyon (LYS) saw a new twice-weekly service to Ajaccio (AJA) on the island of Corsica begin last week. A third weekly frequency will operate from 12 July to 30 August. This is easyJet’s fifth route to Ajaccio, which it already serves from Basel, Geneva, London Gatwick and Paris CDG.

  • Lufthansa’s in-house LCC germanwings has launched weekly flights between its base at Stuttgart (STR) and Dubrovnik (DBV). The airline also serves the Croatian coastal city from Cologne/Bonn (since 2005), Berlin (since 2009) and Hannover (since 2010). However, the Berlin route will be ‘handed over’ to parent Lufthansa when the new Berlin Brandenburg airport opens in early June. germanwings’ Stuttgart base will serve almost 50 destinations non-stop this summer, a significant increase on last year.

Jeju Air’s main international market is Japan, where the South Korean low-cost airline serves four destinations. The airline serves Osaka Kansai with three routes, of which the most recent to be launched was the route from Jeju. The route, which launched last summer, is set to increase from three to five weekly frequencies later this month.

  • Jeju Air, the South Korean low-cost airline analysed this week, entered the Vietnamese market on 5 April when the South Korean airline began operating daily from Seoul Incheon (ICN) to Ho Chi Minh City (SGN). The operator of high-density 737-800s flies the route overnight and competes with each twice-daily services by both Korean Air and Asiana as well as Vietnam Airlines’ daily operations.

Among the VIPs celebrating the relaunch of Mandala Airlines – and the launch of the domestic route between Jakarta and Medan – were Michael Coltman, Mandala Airlines’ President Director (left); Sandiaga Uno, CEO Saratoga Capital (second left) and Chin Yau Seng, CEO Tiger Airways (right). Of course, there was also a cake to celebrate the event.

  • Mandala Airlines, the relaunched Indonesian low-cost airline, resumed operations on 5 April in cooperation with Tiger Airways of Singapore, as detailed in this week’s analysis of the airline. From the Indonesian capital Jakarta (CGK), the airline now flies daily to Medan (MES) in North Sumatra. Frequencies will increase to 12 times weekly in June. The airline faces considerable competition on the route from four other airlines. Lion Air operates 133 flights a week, Garuda Indonesia 70, Batavia Air 21 and Sriwijaya Air 14.

Pictured celebrating the arrival of Mandarin Airlines in Jeju are Tsai Bing Kun, vice mayor of Taichung city; He Hang-Yeh, Mandarin Airlines CEO; and Nantou County vice commissioner Chen Jhih-Chin (fourth, fifth and sixth from the left respectively).

  • On 6 April, China Airlines’ subsidiary Mandarin Airlines launched a new route connecting Taichung (RMQ) in Taiwan with Seoul Incheon (ICN), making the South Korean capital the airline’s first destination in the country. The 1,600-kilometre service is offered with four-weekly frequencies and is operated with 104-seat E-190 aircraft. No other airline has served the route before. It is the second new route launched by Mandarin Airlines at the start of this summer season, following the service from Taipei Songshan to Wenzhou, which commenced on 25 March.

  • Meridiana fly began connecting the capitals of Italy and Armenia on 6 April when the airline launched two weekly flights between Rome Fiumicino (FCO) and Yerevan (EVN). The route, which is operated in competition with Armavia’s weekly service, is served with 180-seat A320 aircraft.

Cutting the ribbon for Ryanair’s new base in Cyprus were George Leptos, Chairman of Pafos Chamber of Commerce; Maria Macken, Ryanair’s Sales and Marketing Manager; Savvas Vergas, Mayor of Pafos; and Alfred van der Meer, CEO Hermes Airports.

Ryanair opens new base at Paphos in Cyprus

Ryanair’s first flight from Bologna to Poznan arrived in the Polish city on 4 April. This is the airline’s third route to Poland from the Italian base, after flights to Krakow and Wroclaw.

  • After a hectic couple of weeks during which time it has launched close to 150 new routes, Ryanair launched just 14 new routes this week. However, this includes eight routes from its new base at Paphos (PFO) in Cyprus, with Thessaloniki (SKG) in Greece even being served daily. Turku (TKU) in Finland is now connected to Ryanair’s bases in Girona (GRO), London Stansted (STN) and Malaga (AGP), while Dole (DLE) in eastern France gets its first ever Ryanair service from Porto (OPO).
Launch date From Code To Code WF
04-Apr-12 Bologna BLQ Poznan POZ 2
06-Apr-12 Girona GRO Turku TKU 2
03-Apr-12 London Stansted STN Turku TKU 3
04-Apr-12 Malaga AGP Turku TKU 2
03-Apr-12 Paphos PFO Araxos/Patras GPA 3
04-Apr-12 Paphos PFO Chania CHQ 4
05-Apr-12 Paphos PFO Frankfurt Hahn HHN 2
06-Apr-12 Paphos PFO Krakow KRK 2
04-Apr-12 Paphos PFO Memmingen FMM 2
03-Apr-12 Paphos PFO Milan Bergamo BGY 3
05-Apr-12 Paphos PFO Stockholm Skavsta NYO 2
03-Apr-12 Paphos PFO Thessaloniki SKG 7
05-Apr-12 Porto OPO Dole DLE 2
04-Apr-12 Valencia VLC Santander SDR 4
Source: new route database         WF: Weekly frequency

  • Surinam Airways launched its second route to Miami, FL (MIA) on 3 April when the airline began operating from its Paramaribo (PBM) base in Surinam’s capital via Georgetown (GEO) in neighbouring Guyana. Flights operate twice-weekly with 737-300s and complement the airline’s existing Miami services operating via Aruba. No other airline operates the 360-kilometre sector between the capitals of the two neighbour countries, which last was operated – by Surinam Airways – in 2004. The last time Georgetown was connected non-stop with Miami was in 2000 when Guyana Airways operated the route.

Budapest Airport’s Airline Development Manager Sándor Saly welcomed the team with a cake in the airline’s colours, featuring a traditional Dutch wooden clog. The Air France-KLM low-cost subsidiary complements its parent KLM’s three daily flights on the route.

  • Air France/KLM’s in-house LCC has launched a new route from its main Amsterdam (AMS) base to Budapest (BUD) in Hungary. Flights will operate four times weekly. The route is already served by KLM with three daily flights. The route was previously served by Malev until the Hungarian flag-carrier collapsed at the beginning of the year. The only other scheduled flights between Hungary and the Netherlands are provided by Wizz Air, which has been serving Eindhoven from Budapest since September 2006. Prior to that Wizz Air had also served Amsterdam from December 2005 until September 2006, competing for a time with SkyEurope who served the market between May 2004 and October 2007.

  • On 6 April, United launched a new route connecting its New York Newark, NJ (EWR) hub and Buenos Aires (EZE). The service comes as replacement of flights from Washington Dulles, making Argentina’s capital the fourth South American destination offered by United from Newark. “The New York/Newark-Buenos Aires route gives East Coast travellers direct connections between two of the major business and tourism destinations in the Americas,” said John Slater, United’s VP of Sales for the Americas. United already serves Buenos Aires from Houston Intercontinental.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A Nutter, Congressman Chaka Fattah and Virgin America CEO David Cush joined Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin America crew in celebrating the airline’s arrival in Philly. Branson then posed with the Green Man and Glenn Howerton from the TV series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

  • Philadelphia (PHL), the airport analysed this week, has welcomed Virgin America, its first new airline in eight years, with the launch last week of double daily flights to Los Angeles (LAX). A second route to San Francisco launched this week and will be covered in next week’s The LAX route is already served by US Airways (up to five daily flights), United (daily flights) and Delta (five weekly flights). According to Virgin America President and CEO David Cush: “Philadelphia is a vibrant, world class city that deserves more airline competition. In addition to bringing low fare competition to routes previously only served nonstop by legacy carriers, we believe our unique service will be a welcome change for Philadelphians tired of the typical domestic airline cattle car.” Mayor Michael A Nutter added: “This is a great day for Philadelphia and our airport. We are thrilled that travellers in our region now have convenient access to Virgin America’s award-winning service. This new service to the West Coast will stimulate our regional economy and give travellers more choices. It’s a pleasure to welcome Virgin America to our airport family, and I congratulate this fine airline for recognising the value of doing business with our great city.”

Natale Chieppa, Palermo Airport’s Commercial Director, welcomed Carlos Muñoz, Volotea’s founder and CEO, on the arrival of the start-up airline’s first flight.

Natale Chieppa, Palermo Airport’s Commercial Director, welcomed Carlos Muñoz, Volotea’s founder and CEO, on the arrival of the start-up airline’s first flight. The route between Venice and Sicily’s capital city is operated daily – the highest frequency of the low-cost airline’s new routes.

  • Venice Marco Polo (VCE) airport was the venue for the inaugural flight of Europe’s newest airline; Volotea. The airline, which is analysed in this week’s, in the first few days of operation focused on domestic Italian routes, including the airline’s maiden flight to Palermo (PMO), the only route it plans to operate daily. Competition on this route is provided by Alitalia with double daily flights. The Italian flag-carrier will also compete on the Cagliari (CAG) and Brindisi (BDS) routes from Venice.
Launch date From Code To Code WF
06-Apr-12 Palermo PMO Genoa GOA 3
05-Apr-12 Venice Marco Polo VCE Brindisi BDS 3
05-Apr-12 Venice Marco Polo VCE Cagliari CAG 3
06-Apr-12 Venice Marco Polo VCE Olbia OLB 3
05-Apr-12 Venice Marco Polo VCE Palermo PMO 7
06-Apr-12 Venice Marco Polo VCE Reggio Calabria REG 3

Budapest Airport’s Airline Development Specialist Eszter Almási and Wizz Air’s CCO György Abrán celebrated the low-cost airline’s sixth aircraft being based at its home base in the Hungarian capital.

Budapest Airport’s Airline Development Specialist Eszter Almási and Wizz Air’s CCO György Abrán celebrated the low-cost airline’s sixth aircraft being based at its home base in the Hungarian capital, which this week resulted in three new routes being launched.

  • Hungarian-based Wizz Air has launched three new routes from the Hungarian capital Budapest (BUD) to help fill the void left by the demise of Malev earlier this year. Bulgaria’s capital Sofia (SOF) will be served with three weekly flights, Larnaca (LCA) in Cyprus with two weekly flights (until 24 October), and Malaga (AGP) in Spain with weekly flights in April, and then two weekly flights from mid-June until the end of September. The only direct competition on these routes comes from Ryanair that also serves Malaga from Budapest. Wizz Air previously operated between Budapest and Sofia from September 2005 until October 2006. This summer, Wizz Air will now serve over 30 destinations non-stop from Budapest. The new routes have been made possible by the arrival of a sixth A320 to be based at the airport. According to György Abrán, Wizz Air’s CCO: “With the arrival of the sixth aircraft in Budapest, Wizz Air takes its place as the airline with the largest fleet based in the Hungarian capital city. This is an important milestone for a company with its roots in Hungary and such a significant number of Hungarian staff. Our company continues to grow and with that growth will come more opportunities for passengers to enjoy our winning combination of low fares and great customer experience.”


  1. Jon says:

    Ryanair this week launched new routes from Glasgow Prestwick to Barcelona, Bydgoszcz, Chania and Corfu. Flybe/Loganair also commenced its new Glasgow International to Newquay route.

  2. giuseppe says:

    Ryanair this week launched new routes from Palermo to Dublin (April 6) and Palermo to Madrid (April 5)

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