JetBlue Airways’ New York JFK to Havana
JetBlue Airways’ inaugural flight to Havana – the carrier’s 100th destination – was sent off from New York JFK with the national flags flying on 28 November. The 2,121-kilometre airport pairing will be flown daily on the airline’s A321 fleet.
- JetBlue Airways reached two milestones on 28 November, first launching its inaugural flight from New York JFK (JFK) to Havana (HAV), but secondly welcoming the Cuban capital as the 100th destination to its route map. The 2,121-kilometre airport pairing of JFK and Havana will be flown by the carrier daily on its A321 fleet. “This inaugural flight between New York and Havana is a milestone in this new era of progress between our two nations, and another tangible result of this state’s successful trade mission to Cuba,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. “I congratulate JetBlue on this landmark accomplishment, which will help further ties and strengthen the economic relationship between New York and Cuba.” JetBlue is currently the only airline linking New York to Havana, however from early-December United Airlines will begin flights to the Cuban capital from its New York Newark hub. JetBlue will from next week link Orlando and Fort Lauderdale to Havana as well. The launch of Havana services marks a major milestone for JetBlue, serving 100 destinations across 22 countries, less than 17 years since its first flight according to its website. Havana becomes the airline’s 38th international destination according to OAG schedules.
WOW air’s Reykjavik/Keflavik to New York Newark
WOW air on 23 November launched flights to its fifth US destination, New York Newark. To celebrate the new route, Reykjavik/Keflavik baked this fantastic cake depicting the most iconic building in Manhatten, the Empire State Building. Along with cake, there was also a ribbon cutting ceremony which was conducted by some of the inaugural crew and Hlynur Sigurdsson, Reykjavik/Keflavik Airport Terminal Director.
- WOW air initiated fights to New York on 23 November, linking its Reykjavik/Keflavik (KEF) hub with New York Newark (EWR). The 4,175-kilometre sector will be flown by the LCC daily on its A321 fleet. The airport pairing of Keflavik and Newark is already served by Icelandair, with the national carrier of Iceland currently operating a four times weekly operation according to OAG schedules. Newark becomes WOW air’s fifth destination in the US after Baltimore/Washington, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco, while it also serves Montreal and Toronto Pearson in Canada. The airline will further expand its North American network next year with the introduction of flights to Miami (5 April) and Pittsburgh (16 June).
The rest of this week’s new routes (A – Z by airline)
Australian regional airline Airnorth was welcomed to Townsville in Queensland by this fantastic looking cake. It will operate from Brisbane West Wellcamp on a three times weekly basis.
- Airnorth, the Australian regional airline, this week added its third destination from its Brisbane West Wellcamp (WTB) operation, Townsville (TSV), with it joining existing flights to Melbourne and Cairns. The 1,054-kilometre sector will be operated three times weekly by Airnorth’s E170 fleet. Started on 28 November, the domestic city pair faces no incumbents, however Qantas (34 times weekly), Virgin Australia Airlines (34) and Jetstar Airways (13) all provide indirect competition from Brisbane’s main airport.
The knives were out to celebrate the launch of China Eastern Airlines’s latest new service to Sydney, this time from Kunming. The route will operate three times weekly using the SkyTeam carrier’s A330-200s.
- China Eastern Airlines fresh from launching flights from Hangzhou last week, has now added another new route to Sydney (SYD), this time from Kunming (KMG). The inaugural flight on the 8,306-kilometre route took place on Thursday 24 November. The three times weekly (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) service will be flown by the SkyTeam carrier’s 234-seat A330-200s. Another new route from Wuhan is scheduled to start on 19 January 2017. China Eastern was already serving Sydney non-stop from Nanjing (three times weekly) and Shanghai Pudong (10 times weekly). In the China-Australia market, China Eastern now commands 23% of weekly seat capacity second only to China Southern Airlines (37%), but well ahead of Air China (18%).
HK Express Commercial Director Luke Lovegrove (far right) met with guests at the boarding gate to welcome them aboard the first flight to Chiang Rai. The new service, which launched on 25 November, will operate twice-weekly using the LCC’s fleet of A320s.
- HK Express continues to expand its Hong Kong (HKG) network. On 25 November the LCC added Chiang Rai (CEI), its third destination in Thailand. The 1,477-kilometre route will be operated twice-weekly (Mondays and Fridays) using the carrier’s 174-seat A320s and faces no direct competition. Sarima Chindamat, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Hong Kong, said: “We are very pleased to witness the inaugural scheduled service by HK Express between Hong Kong and Chiang Rai, the northernmost large city and also a secluded city of beauty and serenity. We have confidence Chiang Rai will become one of the most popular Thai destinations for Hong Kong tourists and this new direct flight service will be significant in securing a strong foothold in between Hong Kong and Thai tourism.” For Chiang Rai this is only the second international route. The airport, which handled 1.745 million passengers in 2015, also has a non-stop route to Kunming in China operated by China Eastern Airlines. HK Express already serves Chiang Mai and Phuket in Thailand. Back in 2015 it also served Bangkok Don Mueang for three months, from 20 July to 23 October. In the Hong Kong-Thailand market, HK Express currently ranks seventh with just 4.5% of the market, well behind Cathay Pacific Airways (25%), Thai Airways (23%), Hong Kong Airlines (17%) and Thai AirAsia (10%).
Helping launch the new service from Leeds Bradford to Berlin Schönefeld by giving out free Jet2.com Christmas jumpers was Alan Halsall, who plays Tyrone in UK soap opera Coronation Street. The twice-weekly service began on 25 November.
- Jet2.com will now operate twice-weekly flights (Mondays and Fridays) year-round to Berlin Schönefeld (SXF) from Leeds Bradford (LBA). Operated by the LCC’s 737-300 fleet, the 1,022-kilometre sector faces no direct competition. The route, which started on 25 November, becomes the 16th W16/17 flown from the Yorkshire airport, a network total which includes seasonal flights to New York Newark. Tony Hallwood, Aviation Development Director at Leeds Bradford, said: “It’s exciting to see Jet2.com introducing Berlin to their schedule from Leeds Bradford. The addition of Germany’s cosmopolitan capital is great news for leisure customers seeking a city break, especially at this time of year when the Christmas markets give Berlin that truly festive feel. Today’s pre-flight activities at LBA offered a fun atmosphere for passengers jetting off with a gift of a Jet2.com Christmas jumper – what a great start for the route!” Later this year, the company will start operating flights to another brand new route from Leeds Bradford Airport – Grenoble.
Attending the ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the launch of Philippines AirAsia services from Cebu to Singapore and Taiwan were: Judy Gabato, OIC, Department of Tourism Region 7; Leah Loh, Area Director, Singapore Tourism Board for Philippines and Brunei; Captain Gomer Monreal, Chief Pilot, Philippines AirAsia; Manuel Louie Ferrer, President, GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation; Andrew Acquaah Harrison, CEA, GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation along with Philippines AirAsia Cabin Crew. There was also an impressive cake featuring icons of Singapore and Taipei.
- Philippines AirAsia (which used to be known as AirAsia Zest and before that as Zest Air) has added two new international routes from Cebu (CEB). On 25 November the LCC began serving both Singapore (SIN) and Taipei Taoyuan (TPE). The former route will be served four times weekly and will face competition from Cebu Pacific Air (daily flights), SilkAir (daily flights) and Tigerair Singapore (four times weekly flights). The latter route will be flown three times weekly and will face competition from EVA Air (daily flights) and Cebu Pacific Air (six times weekly flights). Both routes will be flown by the airline’s A320s. Philippines AirAsia already serves Taipei from Manila. From Cebu the LCC also flies to Kuala Lumpur and Seoul Incheon. According to OAG data on international routes from airports in the Philippines, the leading airlines by seat capacity are Philippine Airlines with 27%, followed by Cebu Pacific Air with 19%. Cathay Pacific Airways has a further 6%, while Philippines AirAsia ranks fourth with 5%.
Ural Airlines added to existing service from Moscow Zhukovsky to Osh, with the addition of regional flights to Bishkek, Dushanbe and Khudzhand. None of the routes faces any direct incumbents, but significant indirect competition from Moscow’s three other commercial airports.
- Ural Airlines has grown its network of services from the Russian capital’s newest airport Moscow Zhukovsky (ZIA). Having launched operations to Osh from the airport (which is just 23 kilometres south-east of the Moscow Ring) earlier this month, it has added flights to Bishkek (FRU) in Kyrgyzstan, Dushanbe (DYU) and Khudzhand (LBD), both in Tajikistan. All three services will be flown twice-weekly, are operated by the Russian airline’s A320 fleet and none of them faces any direct competition. However, Aeroflot does operate twice-daily from its Moscow Sheremetyevo hub to Bishkek, with Pegasus Asia and Avia Traffic Company (both eight times weekly), plus Ural Airlines (five) and Air Kyrkyzgstan (three) offering multiple weekly frequencies from Moscow Domodedovo to the Kyrkyzstan capital. In addition, UTair flies 11 times weekly from Moscow Vnukovo to Dushanbe, with Somon Air (daily) and Tajik Air (daily) both also offering services from Moscow Domodedovo. Finally, with regards to Moscow operations to Khudzhand, S7 Airlines (daily), Tajik Air (four) and Somon Air (three) all operate services from Domodedovo.