VLM’s Friedrichshafen route trio
VLM Airlines re-started three domestic sectors on 15 February, all of them originating in Friedrichshafen. At the Southern Germany airport there was a ribbon-cutting for new operation marked by: Hamish Davidson, VLM Airlines CEO; Lothar Wölfle (Landrat Bodenseekreis); Claus-Dieter Wehr, Friedrichshafen Airport CEO; Andreas Brand Mayor of Friedrichshafen; and Andreas Humer-Hager, Friedrichshafen Airport Director Marketing & Sales.
Hamburg Airport’s Robert Plitz (on left) and the VLM Airlines crew on the first flight from Friedrichshafen celebrate the start of the 11 times weekly service from Southern Germany which began on 15 February.
Düsseldorf Airport’s Christina Knicker (third from left) and the VLM Airlines crew on the first flight from Friedrichshafen mark the start of the 10 times weekly Fokker 50 operation which also began on 15 February.
Completing the trio of new German domestic routes launched by VLM Airlines this week, was the ceremony held on the Berlin Tegel apron on 15 February. Holding the banner were: Captain Sander de Groot, VLM Airlines; Jana Friedrich, Berlin Brandenburg Airport; Purser Margot de Boer, VLM Airlines; and First Officer Bjorn Lindeboom, VLM Airlines.
- VLM Airlines has opted to re-start some of the German domestic routes left vacant by the now defunct InterSky, the Austrian regional airline which ceased operations in November last year. All three sectors from Friedrichshafen (FDH) to Berlin Tegel (TXL), Düsseldorf (DUS) and Hamburg (HAM) airports started on 15 February and are operated by the airline’s 50-seat Fokker 50s and none face any direct competition. While the route to Düsseldorf is flown 10 times weekly, the other two services will be operated 11 times weekly.
Pobeda Moscow Vnukovo to Cologne Bonn
Ribbon-cutting and cake-cutting was the order of the day at Cologne Bonn Airport on Monday 15 February to celebrate the arrival of Pobeda’s inaugural flight from Moscow Vnukovo. Armed with scissors were: Ulrich Stiller, Director Marketing & Sales, Cologne Bonn Airport; Michael Garvens, Chairman of the Management Board, Cologne Bonn Airport; Andrey Kalmykov, CEO, Pobeda Airlines; and Vladimir V. Sedykh, Consul General of the Russian Federation in Bonn.
- Pobeda started its third international route on 15 February with daily services from Moscow Vnukovo (VKO) launched to Cologne Bonn (CGN). The 737-800-operated sector joins the Russian LCC’s existing overseas sectors to Milan/Bergamo and Bratislava, which both launched in December. The 2,054-kilometre route will face no direct competition on the airport pair, although Germanwings/Eurowings intends to launch services from the German airport to Moscow Domodedovo in June, having served Vnukovo in the past. See how Cologne Bonn’s FTWA compares with others from around the world this week.
The rest of this week’s new routes (A – Z by airline)
Vancouver Airport was happy to celebrate the launch of Air Canada rouge’s new weekly service to Cancún in Mexico on 15 February. The carrier joins three others already serving the market.
- Air Canada rouge on 15 February commenced weekly (Monday) flights between Vancouver (YVR) and Cancún (CUN). The 4,472-kilometre sector will be operated by the carrier using its 767-300 fleet, with the airline facing direct competition from Sunwing Airlines, WestJet and Air Transat which combined offer 12 weekly services. Air Canada rouge already serves the Mexican destination from Montreal and Toronto Pearson.
- Air Côte d’Ivoire on 15 February commenced services between Abidjan (ABJ) and Abuja (ABV) in Nigeria. The 1,299-kilometre sector will be operated thrice-weekly (Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays) with the carrier using its fleet of Q400s on the route. Currently no other carrier serves this airport pair.
- American Airlines on 11 February launched daily services between Los Angeles (LAX) and Tokyo Haneda (HND). The 8,810-kilometre sector will be operated by the airline’s 787-8 fleet. Two incumbent carriers already service this airport pair directly, with All Nippon Airways and Delta Air Lines both offering daily services. American Airlines already serves the Los Angeles to Tokyo market, with the oneworld member currently operating a daily service to Tokyo Narita from LAX. All Nippon Airways and Delta Air Lines also both serve Narita as well as Haneda from LAX, while Japan Airlines and United Airlines also serve Narita from the Californian hub daily. Singapore Airlines offers a daily service between LAX and Singapore, which makes an intermediate stop in Narita, a sector on which the Star Alliance member does have local traffic rights. With this latest route from the world’s largest airline, it means that in total it will offer twice-daily services from LAX to Tokyo, with the carrier facing direct competition from five airlines across both routes which combined offer 49 weekly services on the city pair.
- Arik Air on 12 February launched services from Lagos (LOS) to Libreville (LBV) in Gabon via Port Harcourt (PHC). According to the airline’s booking engine, the sectors will be operated by CRJ 200s. Currently the 958-kilometre sector between Lagos and Libreville faces direct competition from Camair, which itself operates a twice-weekly service. No other carriers operate on the 575-kilometre airport pair of Port Harcourt and Libreville according to OAG Schedules Analyser data.
- British Airways started its third Portuguese service from London Gatwick (LGW) this week, with a four times weekly service to Porto (OPO) joining its existing flights to Faro and Funchal. Commenced on 11 February, the 1,276-kilometre sector, which is operated by the airline’s A319/A320 fleet, will face direct competition from TAP Portugal (twice-daily) and easyJet (four times weekly).
Monday 15 February saw the first flight of Brussels Airlines from Nuremberg to Brussels, which according to FlightRadar24.com arrived 13 minutes early. However, the route will not be flown by Brussels Airlines’ own Airbus fleet but rather by bmi regional using an ERJ 145. Preparing to cut the Atomium-inspired cake are: Helmut Gläser, Country Manager Germany, Brussels Airlines; Markus Söder, Bavarian State Minister of Finance); and Michael Hupe, Managing Director, Nuremberg International Airport.
- Brussels Airlines on 15 February launched direct flights between its Brussels (BRU) hub and Nuremberg (NUE). The Star Alliance carrier will operate the 492-kilometre sector six times weekly, with the flights being operated by bmi regional ERJ 145s. No other carrier currently serves the city pair directly. Nuremberg becomes Brussels Airlines’ fifth destination in Germany, with the carrier already serving Berlin Tegel, Bremen, Hamburg and Hannover according to OAG Schedules Analyser data while fellow Star Alliance carrier Lufthansa serves the Frankfurt and Munich markets from the Belgian capital.
- Condor became the sixth airline to operate on the highly-competitive sector between Manchester (MAN) and Lanzarote (ACE) on 14 February. The leisure airline joins Jet2.com (which operates four times weekly on the sector), Monarch Airlines (four), sister carrier Thomas Cook Airlines (four), Thomson Airways (four) and Ryanair (three) on the 2,866-kilometre route, which it will operate weekly (Sundays). The route will be flown by its 275-seat 757-300s and joins Thomas Cook (which also flies one of its 757-300s on the sector) in using the largest aircraft type on the airport pair.
- Delta Air Lines on 13 February launched a weekly Saturday service from Los Angeles (LAX) to Sun Valley (SUN) in the state of Idaho. The 1,120-kilometre sector will be served by Delta Connection’s CRJ 700s until 2 April. The airport pair is already served by one incumbent carrier, with Alaska Airlines operating a daily service according to OAG Schedules Analyser data. The SkyTeam member already serves Sun Valley, known locally as Friedman Memorial Airport, from Salt Lake City. The airport’s other routes are with United Airlines to Denver and San Francisco, while Alaska Airlines also serves it from its Seattle/Tacoma hub. Last year the airport handled just under 140,000 passengers, up around 3% on the previous year.
- IndiGo, the biggest airline in the Indian domestic market, has started operating from Bengaluru (BLR) to Ranchi (IXR) via Patna (PAT) using its A320s. The new service was introduced on 15 February and faces no competition. It operates as a triangle service; Bengaluru-Ranchi-Patna-Bengaluru. Last year Patna Airport was one of India’s fastest-growing with passenger numbers up 26.9% to 1.465 million. Patna is the second largest city in eastern India after Kolkata.
Fiona Black, GM Jet2.com, Scotland and Jonathan Rayner Edinburgh Airport Head of Aero Business Development proudly show off the new route cake heralding the start of services from the Scottish airport to Tenerife South, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria. The 189 passengers on the inaugural flight to Tenerife South were given exclusive vouchers for Siam Park and Loro Parque, two of the world’s top tourist attractions.
Down route on the island of Lanzarote there were also celebrations to mark the start of Jet2.com’s new Edinburgh service. Taking centre stage in proceedings were: Manuel Vinagre, Airport Director, Lanzarote Airport; the inaugural flight captain and two members of the crew; Jenny, member of Jet2.com’s Lanzarote staff; Hector Fernandez, MD, The Society for the Foreign Promotion of Lanzarote; and Antonio Medina, Jet2.com Station Manager, Lanzarote Airport. Entertainment was provided by the Parranda el Requinto de Lanzarote.
Gran Canaria also welcomed the start of Jet2.com flights from Edinburgh with this Scottish-themed cake. Heralding the arrival of the new operation were: Three representatives from Jet2Holidays; Alberto Martín, Airport Director, Gran Canaria Airport; María Inés Jiménez Martín, Tourism Counsellor Cabildo de Gran Canaria; Luis Miguel Molina González, Delegate of the Government in Gran Canaria; Irene Martín Morilla, Jet2.com Station Manager Gran Canaria; and a member of Jet2.com staff.
- Jet2.com, the ninth largest carrier at Edinburgh (EDI) in terms of weekly seats (week commencing 12 February), has started three Spanish routes from the Scottish airport. First up on 12 February, was the twice-weekly (Tuesdays and Fridays) service to Tenerife South (TFS), which will face competition from easyJet (thrice-weekly), Ryanair (three-weekly), Norwegian (twice-weekly) and Thomson Airways (twice-weekly). The second route to commence operations on 14 February was the weekly (Sundays) service to Lanzarote (ACE), which will face competition from Ryanair (twice-weekly) and Thomson Airways (weekly). The last of the new route trio to start flights was the weekly (Mondays) service to Gran Canaria (LPA), beginning on 15 February, which will face competition from Thomson Airways (weekly). All of the routes will be operated by the LCC’s 737-800 fleet. These new network points are three of 12 new destinations available from Edinburgh in 2016, with the remaining nine new sectors being Heraklion, Dalaman, Paphos, Rhodes, and Turin plus four routes exclusive to the airline from the airport, namely to Kefalonia, Larnaca, Vienna and Zakinthos. Jonathan Rayner, Edinburgh Airport’s Head of Aero Business Development, said: “Credit to Jet2.com – it shares our aspirations for growth and recognises the value in connectivity to and from Scotland’s capital. Our 12 new destinations offer even greater choice to passengers than ever before and build on Edinburgh Airport’s reputation as ‘Where Scotland Meets the World’.” Steve Heapy, Jet2.com CEO said: “This is a massive year for us at Edinburgh Airport with huge expansion and investment. We are giving our customers from Eastern Scotland the best choice yet. With the addition of these 12 new routes, we are increasing the number of seats available by a massive 55% and giving local people 27 fantastic new destinations to visit.”
- Rayani Air has added a further domestic route to its network. On 9 February the new Malaysian carrier began thrice-weekly (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) flights on the 802-kilometre route between Kota Kinabalu (BKI) and Kuching (KCH) using its 737-400s. The route is already served by AirAsia with thrice-daily flights and Malaysia Airlines with daily flights.
Spring Airlines Japan celebrated its first service from Tokyo Narita to Chongqing in China on Sunday 14 February with a banner on the rather wet apron at the Japanese airport.
Inside the terminal the airline’s two new routes to China were celebrated with a traditional Kagamiwari Ceremony (opening of a Sake barrel). Taking part in the ceremony were: Ms. Li Cuiling, GM Inbound Division, Spring Travel Japan; Mr. Jiang Weihao, President, Spring Travel Japan; Mr. Katsushige Aikawa, Sibayama Town Mayor; Mr. Wang Zhenghua, Chairman, Spring Group; Mr. Hiroshi Ugai, President & CEO, Spring Airlines Japan; Mr. Shoji Yoshida; Deputy Mayor, Narita City; Mr. Hideki Sugasawa, Mayor, Town of Tako; Mr. James Ho, Asia Pacific Sales Director; Boeing Commercial Airplanes; Mr. Makoto Natsume, President & CEO, Narita International Airport Corporation; Ms. Huang Jiangli, VP, Spring Airlines Japan; Mr. Wang Wei, Chairman, Spring Airlines Japan; Mr. Shigeo Kimura, Administrator Narita International Airport, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; and Mr. Luo Yuquan, Japan Office Director, China National Tourism Administration. Phew!
- Spring Airlines Japan has launched its first international flights from its Tokyo Narita (NRT) base. On 13 February the LCC began thrice-weekly flights on the 2,486-kilometre route to Wuhan (WUH), which is already served twice-weekly by China Southern Airlines. The following day it began four times weekly flights on the 3,243-kilometre route to Chongqing (CKG). There is no direct competition on this route. Unlike Spring Airlines in China which operates a fleet of A320s, Spring Airlines Japan uses 737-800s, as apparently it is easier to find qualified pilots for this type in Japan. At present the LCC operates just three of the type. See how Wuhan Airport’s FTWA compares with others from around the world this week.