New airline routes launched (17 – 23 April 2012)

Route of the Week: JAL’s Tokyo Narita to Boston

Cutting the ribbon for JAL’s first 787 route at Boston Logan Airport, which for the first time is connected with Tokyo Narita, were Jim Carter, VP Eastern Sales Division, American Airlines; Japanese Consul General Takeshi Hikihra; Japan Airlines’ Chairman Masaru Onishi; Massport Aviation Director Edward C. Freni; and Ken Brown, Executive Director, Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Technology.

  • Just short of a month after becoming the second carrier to operate 787s, JAL launched its first Dreamliner service. As of 22 April, the airline now connects Tokyo Narita (NRT) with Boston, MA (BOS) on the US East Coast – a route never previously operated non-stop by any carrier. This 10,785-kilometre non-stop route, which was out of range for aircraft of suitable size for the market prior to the Dreamliner’s arrival, is the first to explore the 787’s potential as JAL proves more adventurous than the aircraft’s launch customer ANA. The route is initially operated with four weekly frequencies, increasing to daily from 1 June.

Cake of the Week: flydubai’s Dubai to Sana’a

Celebrating the arrival of low-cost travel in Yemen as flydubai connected Dubai with Sana’a were Abdulla Matar Al Mazroui, UAE Ambassador to Yemen; Hamad Obaidalla, flydubai’s CCO; Waed Abdulla Batheeb, Yemen’s Minister of Transport; and Hamed Faraj, Chairman of Yemen’s Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority, alongside flydubai cabin crew.

  • On 22 April, Dubai’s low-cost airline flydubai launched services connecting its base in Dubai (DXB) and the Yemeni capital Sana’a (SAH), and now offers four weekly flights on the route, operating on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The airline, which recently also won the Cake prize for its Dubai to Bishkek route, will compete against parent Emirates’ six as well as Yemenia’s three weekly services. The 1,600-kilometre route will be operated with the airline’s fleet of 787-800s, while both competitors use widebody A330 equipment. flydubai’s CCO Hamad Obaidalla commented: “At flydubai, we aim to connect Dubai to destinations that have previously been under-served by links to the UAE and as such we are very excited about the new route to Sana’a, a city steeped in history.”

The rest of this week’s new routes

  • On 20 April, the latest AirAsia franchise, AirAsia Philippines added third route from its base at Clark (CRK) near Manila. The 630-kilometre route to Puerto Princesa (PPS) on the western island of Palawan, is now offered with daily frequencies and operated with the airline’s fleet of A320s. Similarly to the previously launched services to Kalibo and Davao, AirAsia Philippines’ latest destination faces competition from AirPhil Express’s three weekly frequencies.

China Eastern’s first route from Wuhan to a destination outside Greater China is to Singapore. Cutting the ribbon for the new route were China Eastern’s Wuhan Party Secretary Yang Xu; China Eastern’s Commercial Marketing Director Wu Longxue; Hubei Airports Group General Manager Han Zhiliang; Hubei Aviation Security Supervision Bureau Chief Liu Weimin; Wuhan City Deputy Mayor Liu Liyong; China Eastern Deputy General Manager & China Eastern Wuhan Chairman Wu Yongliang; Deputy Secretary of Wuhan City Jiang Tiebin; and China Eastern Wuhan General Manager Jiang Feifei.

  • On 19 April, China Eastern launched a thrice-weekly service to Singapore (SIN) from Wuhan (WUH) in the central Chinese province of Hubei. The route will be operated with A320s and faces competition from SilkAir’s also thrice-weekly flights. While Singapore is the first destination outside Greater China offered by China Eastern from Wuhan, the airline already serves a total of 20 destinations in Mainland China from the airport, as well as Taipei in Taiwan. Wuhan, China’s 14th largest airport by passenger volume grew its traffic by 7% last year and together with Air France became the winner of last week’s Route of the Week prize.

  • On 22 April, Croatia Airlines relaunched services connecting the Croatian and Greek capitals Zagreb (ZAG) and Athens (ATH), a route that it last served in 2010. The weekly operation complements the twice-weekly services the carrier offers via Dubrovnik, and will be operated with A319s. Athens becomes the first destination launched from Zagreb by the Croatian flag carrier since its service to Istanbul started last May. The new route comes shortly after an Aéroports de Paris-led consortium Zagreb Airport International Company was awarded the concession to construct new passenger terminal at Croatia Airlines’ hub. There is no competition on the route; in fact, it was only ever served by one other carrier, JAT, which flew the route between 1984 and 1990.

  • CSA Czech Airlines launched two new routes from its Prague (PRG) hub in the last week; one to the west and one to the east. On 22 April, the SkyTeam airline further expanded its Russian network by launching a weekly service to Nizhniy Novgorod (GOJ), Russia’s fifth-largest city. Flights operate with 128-seat A319 aircraft. The following day, Czech Airlines launched five weekly flights to Geneva (GVA) in Switzerland. Frequencies are set to increase to eight times weekly from 11 June on the route which is operated with 46-seat ATR42s, competing with Swiss’ daily operations.

easyJet’s latest base is in Portugal’s capital Lisbon, which has lead to the addition of five new routes; all but one in competition with at least TAP Portugal. This Portuguese ‘Rooster of Barcelos’ cake was offered among other snacks for the large crowd of Portuguese media that showed great interest in the new base.

Date Origin Destination WF* A/c Competition (WF*)
17-Apr-12 Edinburgh (EDI) Dalaman (DLM) 2 A320
18-Apr-12 Edinburgh (EDI) Naples (NAP) 2 A319
19-Apr-12 Geneva (GVA) Athens (ATH) 3 A319 Swiss (14)
18-Apr-12 Geneva (GVA) Catania (CTA) 2 A319
20-Apr-12 Lisbon (LIS) Amsterdam (AMS) 4 A319 TAP Portugal (18), KLM (14), (9)
20-Apr-12 Lisbon (LIS) Asturias (OVD) 4 A319
20-Apr-12 Lisbon (LIS) Bordeaux (BOD) 4 A319 TAP Portugal (6), Air France (6)
19-Apr-12 Lisbon (LIS) Copenhagen (CPH) 3 A319 TAP Portugal (10)
19-Apr-12 Lisbon (LIS) Venice (VCE) 3 A319 TAP Portugal (7)
21-Apr-12 London Luton (LTN) Heraklion (HER) 2 A320 From 6 May: Thomson (1)

The Kuwaiti Ambassador to Iraq Ali Al Moumen; Iraqi Ambassador to Kuwait Mohammad Bahr Al-Ulum; senior members from Kuwait's Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGCA); and Jazeera Airways’ Chairman Marwan Boodai held a conference at the Iraqi airport in Najaf, which received significant interest from the press. The dignitaries signed the Jazeera Airways aircraft model to commemorate the launch. (We are very grateful to our colleagues at Arabian Supply Chain for the excellent photos.)

  • On 17 April, the Kuwaiti airline Jazeera Airways further expanded its Middle Eastern network. Najaf (NJF) in central Iraq became the first destination to be served in the neighbour country by Jazeera Airways from its Kuwait City (KWI) base. The airline, which is analysed by this week now offers twice-weekly frequencies on the route that it will operate with A320s. Although the 460-kilometre route was briefly operated by Gryphon Airlines of the US, which offered it between 2009 and 2010 to the military, there have been no commercial air services connecting the two countries for more than 20 years, when Kuwait Airways dropped its Baghdad services. The flight comes after the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited Kuwait last month to resolve a two-decade long debt dispute.

  • The Congolese start-up Korongo Airlines, which launched last week in partnership with Brussels Airlines, added the first international destination to its network just three days after the launch of domestic operations on 16 April. The start-up airline, which launched with only one domestic route, now offers twice-weekly services from the copper-mining city of Lubumbashi (FBM) in the south-eastern Katanga Province of DR Congo, to Johannesburg (JNB) in South Africa. The 1,600-kilometre route will be operated with 126-seat 737-300 equipment. South African Airways provides competition on the route, offering five weekly flights.

Mandarin Airlines’ latest route was celebrated at both ends – first in Taichung in Taiwan and then in Macau, where the dignitaries were welcomed with flowers.

  • On 21 April, China Airlines’ regional subsidiary Mandarin Airlines expanded its network from Taichung (RQM) and now offers daily services to Macau (MFM). The former Portuguese colony becomes Mandarin Airlines’ 13th destination from the Taiwanese airport, and will be operated with its 104-seat E-190 regional aircraft. There is no direct competition on the route, although Air Macau, EVA Air and TransAsia Airways all operate between Macau and both Taipei Taoyuan and Kaohsiung, offering a combined 102 weekly flights.

  • Norwegian launched two new routes in the last week. On 19 April, the low-cost airline connected its Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) base with Riga (RIX). Flights operate three times weekly, competing with airBaltic’s thrice-daily flights between the Swedish and Latvian capitals. Indirect competition also comes from Ryanair’s five weekly flights from Stockholm Skavsta to Riga. The following day, the 737-800 operator Norwegian expanded its Helsinki (HEL) base, launching three weekly flights to Paris Orly (ORY). Indirect competition between the Finnish and French capitals comes from Finnair’s five daily flights to Paris CDG.

OLT Express was welcomed to Hamburg Airport from Dresden with a cake presented by Robert Piltz, Hamburg Airport’s Key Account Manager Aviation Marketing. The domestic route is operated 17 times weekly with Saab 2000 aircraft. (Photos: Michael Penner, Hamburg Airport)

  • While its Polish sister company OLT Express this week has announced an international expansion out of Polish airports, OLT Express Germany has launched services from Dresden (DRS) to Hamburg (HAM). This domestic routing is offered with 17 weekly frequencies and is operated using 50-seat Saab 2000 equipment. The move comes within weeks of the announcement made by OLT Express Germany on its partial takeover of the insolvent Cirrus Airlines, which was geared at the technology, sales and marketing aspects. The company’s CEO Joachim Klein said: “With the acquisition, we can save the valuable expertise and offer many Cirrus employees good prospects. OLT Express plans to continued growth in niche markets.” There is no competition on the route.

  • On 23 April, the Afghan Safi Airways launched new route from Kabul (KBL) to Bahrain (BAH). Thrice-weekly services will be offered on the 2,000-kilometre route on board the airline’s A320 aircraft. The only other carrier to offer services on the route is Gulf Air, which launched its also thrice-weekly services last summer. The two airlines will codeshare on the route, and Gulf Air’s CEO Samer Majali said: “Kabul is a key market for Gulf Air, where we have been witnessing a high-demand since we launched our service in June 2011 and we hope to further develop the market.”

  • Having recently launched weekly services to Munich in Germany from Porto (OPO) in the Portuguese mainland, the Azorean carrier SATA International inaugurated flights from the city to Copenhagen (CPH) on 19 April. The Danish connection, which was previously sought by the Portuguese airport in’s The Route Shop, is now offered with weekly frequencies and faces no direct competition in a market estimated at 35,000 yearly passengers.

  • On 19 April, India’s SpiceJet launched its first two routes to Nanded (NDC) the western Indian region of Maharashtra. Services from Aurangabad (IXU) and to Mumbai (BOM) are now offered each with four-weekly frequencies, operated with the airline’s fleet of 737-800s. While there is no competition in the Nanded to Aurangabad market, Mumbai is served with GoAir’s thrice-weekly services. Prior to October 2011, the Mumbai route was served also by Kingfisher, which offered four-weekly flights.

Touching the launch ball for TransAsia’s new route to Hangzhou in Mainland China were the airline’s GM Chen Jia; Hualien County head commissioner Fu Kun-Chi; and Civil Aeronautics Administration Hualien station head Xu Yun-Zu. The terminal area in Hualien was richly decorated to celebrate the new, weekly operation.

  • On 19 April, TransAsia Airways inaugurated a low-frequency service across the Taiwan Strait, connecting Hualien (HUN) with Hangzhou (HGH) in Eastern China. Hangzhou is the first non-Taiwanese destination offered by TransAsia Airways from Hualien, although it already serves Hangzhou from Taipei Songshan. The 700-kilometre uncontested route will be operated once weekly with A321s.

  • On 20 April, Turkish Airlines increased its presence at Istanbul’s second airport, Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (SAW), as it launched three new domestic routes. The new 737-800 services include 18 weekly flights to Izmir (ADB), a twice-daily connection to Antalya (AYT), and three flights a week to Bodrum (BJV). Competition on all routes comes from Pegasus Airlines, which offers 51, 40 and 14 weekly frequencies respectively.


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