New airline routes launched (25 September – 8 October 2012)

Qatar Airways’ Doha to Rangoon

Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker was presented with a welcome gift by U Myint Swe, Chief Minister, Yangon Region Government, to mark the airline’s return to Burma. With them at Yangon International Airport in Rangoon were U Aung Khin, Minister of Transport, Yangon Region; Khin Zaw Win, Burmese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and responsible for Qatar; Jabor Ali Al-Dosseri, Qatari Ambassador to Thailand and responsible for Myanmar; and U Hla Myint, Mayor of Rangoon.

  • Fast-growing Qatar Airways returned to the Burmese market on 3 October when the airline resumed services on the Doha (DOH) to Rangoon (RGN) route. Flights initially operate three times weekly with the airline’s 110-seat A319 aircraft, but frequencies will increase to daily at the start of the winter scheduling season. Qatar Airways previously served Rangoon until January 2008. At present, the 4,700-kilometre route is the longest operating in and out of Rangoon; however, ANA is soon resuming its somewhat longer Tokyo Narita service and Condor will launch intercontinental flights from Frankfurt next month. Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker said: “Today marks a very special occasion as we celebrate our arrival into a city and country that show enormous potential and growth, both as a competitive tourism destination and centre for business in the ASEAN region. There has never been a better time to expand into Myanmar – a country blessed with rich natural resources, and proximity to some of the world’s most dynamic economies.” (Note that Burma and Rangoon are known as Myanmar and Yangon in some countries.)

United’s Denver to Grand Forks

After the ribbon was cut for United’s new service to Grand Forks in North Dakota, the cake baked to welcome the new route was displayed by Patrick Dame, Executive Director, Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority; Jeffrey Steger, Manager Airport Transformation, United Airlines; and Michael Cox, Director Field Operations at Regional Elite Airline Services. We are told that the cake decorator, Jen Kiefer from Hugo’s (Grocery), was recently recognised in the North Dakota Grocer’s Cake Challenge; 1st place advanced wedding cakes fondant and 3rd place in advanced novelty theme cake.

  • United Airlines returned to Grand Forks, ND (GFK) on 3 October when the Star Alliance airline launched twice-daily flights from Denver, CO (DEN). The route is operated with 50-seat CRJ200s operated by SkyWest and marks United’s return to Grand Forks after the airline left the market in 1997. The other carriers serving Grand Forks are Delta and Allegiant Air.

The rest of this week’s new routes

  • Air Arabia expanded its Russian network in the last week, launching two further routes to the country from its Sharjah (SHJ) base in the UAE. The low-cost airline, which already serves Moscow Domodedovo and Yekaterinburg, launched flights to Ufa (UFA) west of the Ural Mountains on 2 October and Kazan (KZN) by Volga River on 3 October. Each of the two routes is operated twice-weekly with the airline’s A320 aircraft. Although Air Arabia faces no direct competition on either route, fellow LCC flydubai indirectly competes on both routes from nearby Dubai; thrice-weekly to Ufa and twice-weekly to Kazan. “We are pleased to introduce this new service to Ufa which comes as part of our route expansion strategy in the Russian Federation and Eastern Europe” said Adel Ali, Group CEO, Air Arabia. “We are confident that this new service will positively contribute to the strong trade and Tourism relations between the UAE and Russia as well as offer customers’ affordable and unique product.”

  • Air Europa, the Spanish SkyTeam member, expanded its domestic network on 1 October when the airline began operating on the trunk route between the Spanish capital Madrid (MAD) and Bilbao (BIO) in Basque Country. Flights operate four times daily, using the airline’s 122-seat E-195 aircraft, competing with Iberia’s 61, easyJet’s 24 and Ryanair’s 11 flights a week.

  • Ak Bars Aero launched daily flights between St Petersburg (LED) and Nizhniy Novgorod (GOJ) on 1 October. The flights between Russia’s second and fifth cities, which are operated with 50-seat CRJ200s, compete with UTair’s also daily operations.

The first passenger checking in for Cebu Pacific’s route from Davao to Butuan – a route previously only reachable in six hours by bus – got a free return ticket, while the ribbon was cut for the Dipolog route – previously a 12-hour bus journey – by Summit World Davao General Manager and President Edward Bangayan, CAAP Davao Assistant Airport Manager Jose Emmanuel Sadam, EMCOR Incorporate EVP and CFO Josefina Manaois, CEB Director for Passenger Sales Arlene Tena, and Davao City Representative Jason Magnaye.

Cebu Pacific launches domestic routes in the Philippines

Cebu Pacific is now the only airline serving the Philippine diving paradise Busuanga from Cebu.

  • Cebu Pacific has launched three new domestic routes with its 72-seat ATR 72 aircraft last week. On 4 October, the Philippine low-cost airline that is the biggest carrier in the domestic market, connected Cebu (CEB) with Busuanga (USU) in the west of the country with three weekly flights. The following day, the airline expanded out of Davao (DVO) in the south, launching two routes within the island of Mindanao; each four flights a week to Butuan (BXU) and Dipolog (DPL).

  • easyJet has launched two routes from its UK bases using 156-seat A319s in the last two weeks. On 28 September, the low-cost airline relaunched the route between Bristol (BRS) in southwest England and Denmark’s capital Copenhagen (CPH), where the airline serves the low-cost pier CPH Go. The route, which easyJet previously served until December 2004, is now operated four times weekly. On 1 October, easyJet began operating from its largest base at London Gatwick (LGW) to Isle of Man (IOM), the island in the Irish Sea that easyJet already serves from Liverpool. easyJet operates the route six times weekly, competing with Flybe’s 26 flights a week.

flydubai’s new route to Bucharest was celebrated in the Romanian capital by Ovidiu Silaghi, Romanian Minister of Transport and Infrastructure; flydubai’s CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith; and Yacub Yousif Al Hosani, UAE’s Ambassador to Romania. This is the Dubai-based low-cost airline’s first route to the EU.

  • flydubai continued expanding its network to Eastern Europe on 1 October when the Emirati low-cost airline began operating three weekly flights from its Dubai (DXB) base to Romania’s capital Bucharest (OTP). Notably, this is flydubai’s first route to a destination in the European Union. The operator of 189-seat 737-800s competes with Tarom’s also thrice-weekly operations. flydubai’s CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said: “Since the launch of our first flight to Central & Eastern Europe with our service to Baku in Azerbaijan, in November 2009, flydubai has expanded rapidly to become the leading airline servicing the region. With the addition of Bucharest, we now fly to 13 destinations across eight countries in the region.”

  • FlyGeorgia, the new Georgian start-up airline launched its first scheduled international route on 30 September. From the country capital Tbilisi (TBS), the privately owned A319 operator now takes on the flag carrier Georgian Airways on the route to Amsterdam (AMS). Each of the two competing airlines now operates the route twice-weekly. For more information about the Georgian market, see this week’s country analysis.

  • Jeju Air inaugurated services from Seoul Incheon (ICN) to Guam (GUM) in the western Pacific on 27 September. Services on the 2,200-kilometre route to Guam, which is one of only five US overseas territories and host to a major military base, are now offered with daily frequencies using 737-800s. Last year, Korean tourists accounted for around 13% of the total number of Guam’s tourists and were the second largest group after the Japanese. The chairperson for Guam’s Committee on Tourism, Senator Tina Muña Barnes, who arrived on the inaugural flight from Seoul, said: “As we promote the growth and development of our tourism economy, opportunities like this help us expand and further diversify our market.” She then added: “Jeju Air flights are a welcome addition, as they provide visitors with increased options and accessibility to Guam. This enhanced presence will further solidify our island as the premier visitor destination in the Asia-Pacific region.” Competition in the market from Seoul Incheon to the Pacific island comes from Korean Airlines’ twice-weekly and Jin Air’s single weekly frequencies.

Welcomed to Hannover with a traditional water cannon salute, the crew on the inaugural LOT Polish Airlines flight from Warsaw were then greeted by Hannover Airport’s CEO, Raoul Hille; LOT’s Director Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Dirk Steffensen; and Marcus Eibach, Head of Marketing at Deutsche Messe.

  • LOT Polish Airlines resumed scheduled services on the route from its hub in Warsaw (WAW) to Hannover (HAJ) in Germany’s Lower Saxony region on 1 October. Six weekly flights are now offered by LOT Polish Airlines from Poland’s capital to the German city that boasts the world’s largest industrial fair and is home to companies such as Volkswagen and TUI. All flights will be operated using E-190s. Marcin Piróg, the airline’s CEO, said: “Hannover is the sixth city we serve in Germany, our key European country market in terms of both direct traffic and eastward transit to Eastern Europe and Asia.” Notably, the new service allows for transfer on to LOT’s Beijing service, which was launched earlier this year (and won’s Cake of the Week prize), making it the fastest available option to travel between Hannover and the Chinese capital. Marcus Eibach, Head of Marketing at Deutsche Messe, which operates the Hannover Fair, stressed: “Poland is our partner for next year’s CeBIT, the world’s largest IT expo. The new service provides an even easier access to Hannover to Polish IT companies and we expect increased interest from both exhibitors and visitors.” Poland’s national carrier previously operated the route, most recently in 2008.

Red carpet reception: Welcoming the Lufthansa CityLine crew on the inaugural flight from Munich was Rotterdam Airport’s CEO, Roland Wondolleck (pictured right).

  • Lufthansa inaugurated services on the intra-communitarian route from Munich (MUC) to Rotterdam (RTM), the Netherlands’ second-largest city, home to the world’s third-biggest port and gateway to the country’s third-largest city, The Hague. Roland Wondolleck, Rotterdam Airport’s CEO, said: “Business communities of Rotterdam and Munich alike have long hoped for this service. In addition, Munich is a great starting point for the Alps and a popular area for second home ownership for the Dutch.” Having launched on 1 October, the new twice-daily service is operated by Lufthansa CityLine using CRJ900 aircraft.

  • Nok Air, the budget carrier with minority shareholding by Thai Airways, launched a new domestic route on 1 October, and it now offers daily flights from Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK), which used to be the country’s main airport before the opening of Suvarnabhumi Airport in 2006, to Chumphon (CJM) in southern Thailand. Competition on the route comes from Solar Air, operator of a small fleet of 19-seater Dornier 228s and EMB110s, and the only other airline to operate at the airport, which was closed for almost a decade prior to its reopening in 2008. All flights offered by Nok Air on the route are operated with Saab 340 aircraft.

  • OLT Express Germany, which was recently taken over by Dutch investors and itself acquired another German carrier, Contact Air, commenced its expansion in the German regions. Beginning on 1 October, Saarbrücken (SCN), which is located in the south west of the country, enjoys direct links to Hamburg (HAM), Munich (MUC) and Vienna (VIE). The two domestic destinations are served with seven and 11 weekly frequencies respectively, while flights to the Austrian capital are offered on a four-time weekly basis. All routes will be operated with F100 aircraft. Luxair provides competition on the route to Hamburg, which it serves from Saarbrücken with 12 weekly flights.

A dance performance and fire-truck salute awaited Pegasus Airlines’ first flight to Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast. Posing in front of the Turkish low-cost airline’s aircraft were Mert Kandiyeli, Batumi Airport Manager; Sertaç Haybat, Pegasus Airlines’ GM; Levan Varshalomizde, Chairman of the Government of Adjara; Ali Sabancı, Chairman of Pegasus Airlines; and Tariel Lebanidze, Georgian Ambassador to Turkey.

  • The Turkish low-cost airline Pegasus Airlines launched its second route to Georgia, the country analysed this week, on 8 October. From its base at Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (SAW), the airline now flies four times a week to Batumi (BUS) on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, complementing its daily flights to the country capital Tbilisi. The new route indirectly competes with Turkish Airlines’ daily flights to Batumi from Istanbul Atatürk.

  • Red Wings Airlines added two routes to the domestic network it offers from Moscow Vnukovo (VKO) on 1 October. Krasnoyarsk (KJA) and Novosibirsk (OVB) are now both served with five weekly frequencies using Tu-204 aircraft in an all-economy 210-seat configuration. Red Wings Airlines, which originated as a charter operator, has actively grown its scheduled network over the past year, and the airline’s Commercial Director, Griegorij Stilbans, said: “Until this year, we had focused on charter operations to Egypt in winter, and Turkey and Europe in summer. Starting this year, we began to develop regular services from Moscow and now serve a total of eight domestic routes, including that to Krasnoyarsk, which is the longest.” Competition on both routes comes from UTair, which serves the two Siberian cities with each twice-daily flights. Weekly frequencies from Moscow Vnukovo to Novosibirsk are additionally offered by Yakutia Airlines.

  • Rossiya Airlines inaugurated services on the route from St Petersburg (LED) to Nukus (NCU) on 26 September. Flights to Nukus, which is located in western Uzbekistan and recently saw the launch of Ural Airlines’ service to Moscow, are offered with weekly frequencies using A319s. Initially, there will be no competition on the route, although Uzbekistan Airways is scheduled to enter the market with also single weekly frequencies as soon as 28 October. Rossyia Airlines, which has been closely tied with Aeroflot since 2010, now operates to nine Uzbek destinations from St Petersburg, providing a total of 16 weekly frequencies.

Rotana Jet launches new domestic UAE route to Al Ain

Al Ain in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has welcomed its first domestic route, from the capital 100 kilometres away. ERJ145s operate the route twice-daily.

  • Rotana Jet has launched another domestic UAE route between Abu Dhabi (AUH) and the emirate’s second city Al Ain (AAN). The 100-kilometre, 30-minute route is operated twice-daily with 50-seat ERJ145 aircraft and the first domestic service ever to land in Al Ain.

Traditionally dressed Bahianas saw off passengers boarding SATA International’s inaugural flight from Lisbon to Salvador in Brazil, getting everybody in a carnival mood.

Lembrancas do Senhor do Bonfim da Bahia, the colourful bracelet that became the trademark of the Brazilian state of Bahia, were handed out to passengers upon arrival. According to the custom, the bracelet should be wrapped around one’s wrist and tied with three knots, each representing one wish. When the band naturally falls off, the wishes are said to come true!

  • SATA International, the Portuguese carrier based in the Azores, inaugurated new route on the 6,500-kilometre transatlantic route from the Portuguese capital Lisbon (LIS) to Salvador (SSA), capital of the Brazilian state of Bahia. Beginning on 27 September, single weekly frequency will be operated using 310-300. SATA’s CEO, António Menezes, said: “This new launch constitutes an important step towards the fulfilment of SATA’s growth strategy. At the same time, it shows our great faith in the growing Brazilian economy.” Competition on the route comes from TAP Portugal, which already serves the market from the Portuguese capital to Salvador da Bahia with daily frequencies. 

Des Moines welcomed Southwest from Chicago Midway with a water-cannon salute and red carpet. Although this is the airline’s first route to Des Moines, its subsidiary AirTran served the Iowa airport from Milwaukee until Southwest now took over the service and moved it to Chicago.

  • Southwest Airlines launched five routes at the end of September; all with its fleet of 737-700 aircraft. Two of the routes are from Atlanta, GA (ATL), where the airline replaces some of the frequencies operated by subsidiary AirTran. Only on one of the routes launched does Southwest not face any direct competition, but United and American Airlines indirectly compete with their flights between Chicago O’Hare and Des Moines, IA (DSM), operating 53 and 46 times a week respectively.
Date Origin Destination WF Competition (WF)
30-Sep-12 Atlanta, GA (ATL) Orlando, FL (MCO) 7 Delta (101), AirTran (65)
29-Sep-12 Atlanta, GA (ATL) San Francisco, CA (SFO) 14 Delta (47), AirTran (11)
29-Sep-12 Chicago Midway, IL (MDW) Des Moines, IA (DSM) 14
30-Sep-12 Las Vegas, NV (LAS) Detroit, MI (DTW) 7 Delta (38), Spirit (21)
30-Sep-12 St. Louis, MO (STL) Washington Reagan, VA (DCA) 14 American Airlines (20)
Source: Innovata for w/c 8 October 2012  WF: Weekly Frequency

Celebrating the arrival of SpiceJet’s new service from Bangalore to Hubli, were K M Basavaraju, Director, Hubli Airport (third left); and Gangaram Baderia, Regional Commissioner Belgaum, who also cut the inaugural ribbon.

  • SpiceJet further grew its route offering from Bangalore (BLR), India’s IT hub located in the state of Karnataka, on 27 September. The airline now offers six weekly flights to Coimbatore (CJB) in the north-west of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nandu, an agglomeration of two million people. Competition on this route comes from Jet Airways and JetLite, which offer daily flights each. In addition, SpiceJet commenced daily flights to Hubli (HBX), which is located only 520 kilometres away from Bangalore, also in Karnataka. Both routes are operated with Q400s and come as part of SpiceJet’s expansion in Bangalore, which earlier this year saw the launch of routes to Ahmedabad and Kochi.

  • Spirit Airlines launched three new US domestic routes on 4 October. From Denver, CO (DEN), the ultra-low cost airline added its second route to Phoenix-Mesa, AZ (AZA) after its Dallas/Fort Worth route. Spirit previously also served Phoenix-Mesa from Las Vegas, but capacity is now moved to the new Denver service. Flights operate daily with the airline’s 145-seat A319s. Although the route currently is uncontested, Frontier Airlines will also launch daily flights between the two airports on 15 November. Lynn Kusy, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport’s Executive Director, said: “We’re grateful for Spirit’s commitment to Arizona and the Southeast Valley. Denver is one of the top requested destinations from Gateway Airport. The demand, combined with Gateway Airport’s ‘plane easy’ travel experience and Spirit’s ultra-low-cost fares, will result in a very successful route.” Spirit Airlines also continued expanding out of Houston Intercontinental, TX (IAH), taking on network carriers by launching daily services to both Chicago O’Hare, IL (ORD) and Las Vegas, NV (LAS). On the Chicago route, United operates 79 weekly flights between its two hubs, while American Airlines competes with further 26 flights a week, and Spirit’s Las Vegas route is operated in competition with United’s 50 weekly flights. “McCarran International Airport is pleased that Spirit will offer new choices for travelers who wish to fly between Houston and Las Vegas,” said Rosemary A. Vassiliadis, Deputy Director of Aviation for Clark County, Nevada. “Last year more than 300,000 visitors flew into Las Vegas from the Houston area, and we believe Spirit will help to further grow that number.”

Thai AirAsia launches second route to Burma

Celebrating Thai AirAsia’s new route to Mandalay – its second to Burma – were Tassapon Bijleveld, CEO of Thai AirAsia; Sansern Ngaorungsi, Thai Deputy Governor for International Marketing; and Aung Myint, Counsellor at Myanmar’s Embassy in Bangkok.

  • Thai AirAsia, which just has moved its Bangkok operations from the main airport Suvarnabhumi to Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK), has launched its second route to neighbouring Burma (aka Myanmar) after flights to Rangoon (aka Yangon). On 4 October, the low-cost airline launched the first route between Thailand and Mandalay (MDL), Burma’s second-largest city. Flights are operated four times a week – on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays – with the airline’s 180-seat A320s. Tassapon Bijleveld, CEO Thai AirAsia, said: “Myanmar has continually opened itself up to the region and the world, providing a chance for outsiders to witness its many beauties and setting it up to reap the benefits of the ASEAN Economic Community.  AirAsia, as the airline with the most extensive network in the region, has thus devoted importance to providing flights into Myanmar to foster its future.”

Tiger Airways now serves Hyderabad, the sixth destination in India for the Singapore-based low-cost airline. The first passenger got the honour of lighting the lamp, while GMR Hyderabad International Airport’s CEO Vikram Jaisinghani, assisted by the Head of Airline and Passenger Development Raveen Pinto, welcomed the crew operating the first flight and presented them with flowers.

  • Tiger Airways has launched two new routes from its Singapore (SIN) base, using its single fleet of 180-seat A320s. On 27 September, the low-cost airline began operating five times weekly to Hyderabad (HYD) in southeast India – the airline’s sixth destination in India. This makes Tiger Airways the third foreign low-cost airline to serve Hyderabad after flydubai and Air Arabia. Competition comes from SilkAir’s eight flights a week. On 1 October, Tiger Airways added Cambodia as a country market, when the airline began operating daily to the country capital Phnom Penh (PNH). The route is already operated by SilkAir 12 times weekly and fellow LCC Jetstar Asia with four weekly frequencies.

  • Turkish Airlines expanded its Middle Eastern network on 2 October, adding its second destination in Yemen. The airline’s three weekly flights from Istanbul Atatürk (IST) to Sana’a now continue via Yemen’s port city Aden (ADE) on the return. The route is operated with 124-seat A319s and frequencies are set to increase to four times weekly at the start of the winter scheduling season.

Cutting the cake to celebrate the arrival of Ural Airlines’ service from Tyumen to Karlovy Vary were Karlovy Vary Airport’s Commercial and Marketing Manager, Radek Zabransky; Ural Airlines’ Deputy Direrctor General, Alexey Fomin; and Petr Navratil, Deputy to Regional President for Transport, Karlovy Vary Region.

  • Ural Airlines added two routes from Russia to Central Europe last week. On 2 October, a weekly service was inaugurated from Tyumen (TJM), which is Russia’s oldest settlement in Siberia, to the Czech spa city of Karlovy Vary (KLV). It is Ural Airlines’ first international route from the Siberian city, while the airline already serves Karlovy Vary with also weekly flights from Ekaterinburg. In addition, on the following day, also weekly flights commenced on the 3,000-kilometre route from Ekaterinburg (SVX) in the Ural Mountains to the Hungarian capital Budapest (BUD). This is Ural Airlines’ first route to Budapest. Services on both routes will be operated with A320 aircraft.

During the inaugural event for the launch of Volaris’ new route from Uruapan to Los Angeles, José Calderoni, the airline’s Director Sales and Marketing, said: “This new service presents a window of opportunities to Uruapan, its economy and people, as it sets a direct link to one of the foremost commercial and tourist destinations in the US.”

A day later, speaking during the launch of Volaris second new route this week, from Guanajuato to Chicago Midway, José Calderoni, Director Sales and Marketing, Volaris, underlined: “We are pleased to offer this new link to Chicago, a city which counts with sizable Latin-American community.”

  • Volaris added two new routes to its quickly expanding network from Mexico to the US. On 2 October, weekly services from Uruapan (UPN) in central-western Mexico to Los Angeles, CA (LAX) were launched, becoming the airline’s seventh route to the Californian city. On the following day, flights on the 2,700-kilometre route from Guanajuato (BJX) to Chicago Midway, IL (MDW) commenced with also weekly frequencies. Volaris already serves Midway from four other destinations across Mexico. Both new routes are operated with A319s and are free of direct competition.

  • Volotea continued the expansion of its network in Bordeaux (BOD) on 1 October, and it now operates a total of seven routes from the airport. Flights on the new domestic routes to Lille (LIL) and Strasbourg (SXB) are offered with three and five weekly frequencies respectively. Competition on the route comes from Air France, which already offers 17 weekly frequencies to Lille and 18 to Strasbourg. In addition, Volotea also added a new route in Nantes (NTE), from where it now serves Lille with four weekly frequencies. Again, Air France is the sole competition, and it flies from Nantes to Lille 16 times a week. All of Volotea’s flights are operated with the carrier’s fleet of 717s.

High-profile route: After the aircraft doors to Wizz Air’s A320 were opened at the newly reopened airport in Kutaisi in Georgia, the airline’s CEO Joszef Varadi stepped out together with Georgian Minister of Economy Vera Kobalia. The Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili then spoke to the spectators, next to the Hungarian Prime Minister’s government jet.

  • Wizz Air made use of its Ukrainian subsidiary’s AOC and launched a new international route from its Ukrainian base at Kiev Zhulyany (IEV). The low-cost airline now flies twice a week to the newly reopened airport in Kutaisi (KUT), the second-largest city in Georgia, the country analysed this week. At the start of the winter scheduling season, the operator of 180-seat A320s will increase frequencies to three weekly flights. Although this currently is the only route operating to Kutaisi, both S7 and Belavia are planning to launch Moscow and Minsk flights later this month.


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