New airline routes launched (7 – 13 August 2012)

Route of the Week:
Virgin Australia’s Brisbane to Mount Isa

Celebrating Virgin Australia’s return to Mount Isa – and competition for Qantas on the important Brisbane route – were Merren McArthur, Virgin Australia's Group Executive Alliances, Network and Yield; Peter Stewart, Xstrata Zinc’s Executive to the Senior Management Team; Steve de Kruijff, CEO Xstrata Copper; and Judith Crompton, Virgin Australia's Group Executive Sales. Meanwhile, passengers on the first flight were treated to commemorative cupcakes.

  • Virgin Australia expanded its domestic network with regional aircraft on 8 August. With 104-seat E-190s, the airline now flies five times weekly, daily on weekdays, between its home base in Brisbane (BNE) – the airport analysed this week – and the mining city of Mount Isa (ISA) in north-western Queensland. The route is launched in commercial agreement with Xstrata Mount Isa Mines, which supports the service. Virgin Australia has briefly operated the route before, back in 2001-02. As the airline re-enters the route, it ends Qantas monopoly with 13 weekly flights.

CAKe of the Week:
Southwest’s Chicago Midway to Akron/Canton

Akron-Canton Airport (CAK) welcomed Southwest Airlines to the airport. In addition to launching a new route from Chicago Midway, Southwest also took over the route from Denver to the Ohio airport from its sister airline AirTran. Celebrating with this aircraft CAKe as well as cloud cupcakes were Congressman Jim Renacci; Ohio Lt Governor Mary Taylor; Bob Jordan, CCO & EVP Southwest Airlines; Rick McQueen, CAK President and CEO; Congresswoman Betty Sutton; and CAK trustee Bob Konstand, while Southwest fans celebrated in their own ways.

Louisville was thrilled to welcome another Southwest service. The Atlanta route operated in competition with Delta was celebrated with a cake designed as an airplane tray table, complete with edible computer tablet (featuring Atlanta’s top attraction, Georgia Aquarium), boarding pass, bag of pretzels and cup. Proudly showing the creation were Myles Hanna, Southwest GM; Ted Smith, Director of Economic Development, City of Louisville; and Phil Lynch, Chairman of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority.

Accompanied by blues music, passengers in the gate area for Southwest’s first flight to St Louis from San Antonio got to enjoy enjoying St. Louis’ famous “Gooey Butter Cake”, served by San Antonio Volunteer Ambassadors.

A certain Dolly Parton travelled on Southwest’s inaugural flight from Nashville to Boston, serving snacks to passengers. Cutting the ribbon for the new service were Nashville Mayor Karl Dean; James H. Cheek, Chairman of the Board, Nashville Airport; Rob Wigington, CEO Nashville Airport; and Tennessee Tourist Development Commissioner Susan Whitaker.

  • Southwest Airlines launched six new domestic routes on 12 August, all with the airline’s fleet of 737-700 aircraft. Two of the airline’s bases got more than one new service – Atlanta, GA (ATL) and St Louis, MO (STL) – the latter being the Southwest base analysed this week.
Origin Destination WF* Competition (WF*)
Chicago Midway, IL (MDW) Akron/Canton, OH (CAK) 14
Atlanta, GA (ATL) Louisville, KY (SDF) 20 Delta (54)
Atlanta, GA (ATL) Norfolk, VA (ORF) 20 Delta (46)
Nashville, TN (BNA) Boston, MA (BOS) 7
St. Louis, MO (STL) New York LaGuardia, NY (LGA) 14 American Airlines (27), Delta (25)
St. Louis, MO (STL) San Antonio, TX (SAT) 13
*WF: Weekly Frequency   Source: Innovata data for w/c 13 August 2012

The rest of this week’s new routes

Emirates arrival in Erbil complements its low-cost sister airline flydubai’s operations on the route between Dubai and the oil-rich city in northern Iraq. Arriving in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan were Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ EVP Engineering & Operations, and Dr Abdullah Al Hashimi, Divisional SVP Emirates Group Security.

  • Emirates launched its third passenger route to Iraq on 12 August when the airline connected its Dubai (DXB) hub with Erbil (EBL) in northern Iraq’s oil-rich Kurdistan region. Initially operating four times weekly, Emirates’ operations with 267-seat A340-300s will increase to daily frequencies from 1 September. Notably, the same route is also operated by Emirates’ low-cost sibling flydubai, which serves Erbil with four flights a week. Additionally, Emirates has been serving Erbil with dedicated cargo operations since February last year. Ahmed bin Saeed AlMaktoum, Emirates’ Chairman and CEO, commented: “We have been facilitating international trade between Erbil and destinations across our network for some time, so we already have a deep understanding of the market and its potential for strong revenue. The launch of Erbil will be our third in Iraq within 18 months, testament not only to the country’s potential but also to our own ability to swiftly enter previously underserved markets, opening them up to our global network of 123 destinations.”

  • Firefly, Malaysia Airlines’ regional subsidiary, launched two new international routes in the last week, using its 72-seat ATR 72 aircraft. On 10 August, the airline began operating four times weekly from Kota Bahru (KBR) near Malaysia’s border to Thailand on the Malay Peninsula east coast to Singapore (SIN). The following day, Firefly connected the island of Penang (PEN) on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia with the Thai island of Koh Samui (USM) in the Gulf of Thailand. Flights operate three times a week.

  • flydubai expanded its Iraqi network out of Dubai (DXB) the same week as its full-serving sibling Emirates. On 8 August, the low-cost airline began serving Iraq’s port city Basra (BSR), becoming its fifth Iraqi destination after Baghdad, Najaf, Sulaimaniyah and Erbil. Flights operate four times weekly with the airline’s 189-seat 737-800s, competing with Emirates’ daily operations on the same route. flydubai’s CEO, Ghaith Al Ghaith, said: “We identified Iraq as one of our principal markets in 2010 with the launch of services to Erbil and Sulaimaniyah. This is in line with our commitment to continually identify emerging and underserved destinations. We hope that our expanding network will further promote travel between the UAE and Iraq, not only for the business community but also for the thousands of Iraqi expatriates residing in the UAE.”

  • The Indian low-cost airline IndiGo further expanded its international network as its launched its third route to Dubai (DXB) on 7 August, complementing the airline’s flights from Delhi and Mumbai. With 180-seat A320s, IndiGo now operates the 2,550-kilometre route from Hyderabad (HYD) in southern India on a daily basis. Competition comes from Emirates’ thrice-daily as well as Air India’s and Jet Airways’ each daily flights, plus four flights a week on flydubai. Later this month, IndiGo is planning to launch to further routes to Dubai; from Kochi and Chennai. Vikram Jaisinghani, CEO of GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited, said: “With more than 500,000 Telugu people in United Arab Emirates, this new service will enhance connectivity between Dubai and Hyderabad. IndiGo plays an important role in promoting tourism and Hyderabad has always been a favorite holiday destination for the UAE residents.”

  • Mandala Airlines, Tiger Airways’ Indonesian partner, launched a new daily route to the Thai capital Bangkok (BKK) on 10 August. The flights from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta (CGK) are operated with the airline’s 180-seat A320s. This is the airline’s third international route after Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Competition comes from twice-daily flights on Garuda Indonesia and each daily flights on Indonesia AirAsia and Thai, making Mandala Airlines the second low-cost airline on the route.

Celebrating the reinstated link from Billund to SAS hub in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen were Jørgen Nielsen, COO Cimber A/S; Robin Kristensen, SAS’ Marketing Director; and Kjeld Zacho Jørgensen, CEO Billund Airport. Cupcakes were baked to mark the resumed link, which was lost at Cimber Sterling’s bankruptcy in May.

  • SAS Scandinavian Airlines relaunched the domestic route between its hub in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen (CPH) and the country’s second-largest airport in Billund (BLL) on 13 August. After the bankruptcy of Cimber Sterling in May, the route was left unserved until SAS now enters with 30 flights a week, operated by the new regional airline Cimber A/S. The route will be operated with 66-seat ATR 72 aircraft after a few initial operations with CRJ200s.

Spring Airlines launches low-cost route to Bangkok from Shanghai

Spring Airlines is the first low-cost operator between Shanghai Pudong and Thailand’s capital Bangkok. Passengers and staff were delighted to celebrate the new route in the Chinese airport’s terminal.

  • Spring Airlines became the first low-cost airline on the busy route between Shanghai Pudong (PVG) and Thailand’s capital Bangkok (BKK) on 10 August when the privately owned Chinese carrier began operating daily flights with its 174-seat A320s. Competition comes from each twice-daily flights on Thai Airways, China Eastern and Shanghai Airlines as well as also daily services on SriLankan Airlines. Thailand thereby becomes Spring Airlines’ second country market outside of Greater China, after Japan.

Silver Airways’ Saab 340, operating on behalf of United, was welcomed to Jacksonville after the first flight from Tampa. The intra-Florida route replaces Southwest’s operations.

  • As Southwest dropped the intra-Florida route between Tampa (TPA) and Jacksonville (JAX), United Airlines took over the route the following day, on 13 August. Flights operate 19 times weekly – thrice-daily on weekdays and twice-daily on weekends – with Silver Airways’ Saab 340s. “This expansion to Jacksonville is right in line with our goals and objectives to be Florida’s hometown airline and connect the state like never before,” said Darrell Richardson, CEO of Silver Airways. “Jacksonville is our ninth station in Florida, with more on the way soon.”

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