Air India’s Delhi to Madrid
At Delhi Airport there was a traditional lamp-lighting ceremony to mark the start of the new three times weekly service to Madrid by Air India, the airline’s first non-stop service to Spain. There was also a cake.
Air India used its Star Alliance branded 787-8 on the inaugural service to Madrid, which is the main base for oneworld member Iberia. There was another cake to celebrate the new route and a chance for the flight and cabin crew to pose for a commemorative photo.
- Air India enhanced its European network with the launch on 1 December of a three times weekly (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) service between Delhi (DEL) and Madrid (MAD). The 7,252-kilometre route will be flown by the Star Alliance carrier’s 256-seat 787-8s and faces no competition. This is Air India’s first service to Spain and the first non-stop scheduled service by any airline for many years between arguably the world’s greatest football playing nation and the world’s greatest cricket playing nation. The other European destinations served this winter non-stop from Delhi by Air India are Birmingham, Frankfurt, London, Milan, Moscow, Paris, Rome and Vienna. All of these are served by the airline’s fleet of 787-8s, of which it now has 22, the most recent of which was delivered last month. A further five 787-8s are yet to be delivered. See this route launch’s fire truck water arch in our weekly Arch of Triumph competition.
Hainan Airlines’ Beijing to Las Vegas
There were lots of celebrations in Las Vegas on 2 December to mark the historic start of non-stop flights to China with Hainan Airlines. The Chinese carrier will operate three flights per week on the route using its 787-8s. Las Vegas becomes the 14th US airport to be connected to China with non-stop flights.
- Hainan Airlines has become the first carrier to link a Chinese airport with the self-proclaimed ‘entertainment capital of the world’ Las Vegas (LAS). On 2 December the carrier launched three times weekly (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) flights on the 10,028-kilometre route from Beijing (PEK) using its 213-seat 787-8s, though demand was so high for the inaugural flight that it was flown by a 787-9. Rosemary Vassiliadis, Director of Aviation for Clark County, Nevada, commented: “Today’s arrival is the culmination of many years of hard work, ushering in a new era of connectivity between Las Vegas and China. McCarran has expanded its international capability specifically for moments such as today, and with the amenities of our new Terminal 3, as well as custom-created Chinese signage and Mandarin-speaking ambassadors, we’re confident that Hainan’s passengers will enjoy an unparalleled airport experience beginning the moment they enter McCarran, and again before they return home.” This winter Hainan Airlines is also operating non-stop flights to five other US airports; Boston (from Beijing and Shanghai), Chicago O’Hare (from Beijing), Los Angeles (from Changsha), San Jose (from Beijing) and Seattle-Tacoma (from Beijing and Shanghai). McCarran International Airport serving Las Vegas becomes the 14th US airport to have non-stop flights to China. Los Angeles (72 weekly flights) and San Francisco (54 weekly flights) are the best connected US airports to China. See this route launch’s fire truck water arch in our weekly Arch of Triumph competition.
The rest of this week’s new routes (A – Z by airline)
There were welcome banners at both ends of the route as Air KBZ began three times weekly flights between Yangon and Chiang Mai in Thailand on 2 December. The route will be flown using an ATR 72 and will compete with rival services from Bangkok Airways and Myanmar National Airlines.
- Air KBZ has become the third carrier to offer non-stop service between Myanmar’s capital Yangon (RGN) and Chiang Mai (CNX) in Thailand. The 362-kilometre link, which started on 2 December, will be served three times weekly by the airline’s ATR 72s. The route is already flown by Bangkok Airways (daily) and Myanmar National Airlines (twice-weekly). According to OAG schedule data this is the airline’s 19th route and first to fly beyond the borders of Myanmar. However, it does offer other international routes in collaboration with its partner Myanmar Airways International. Air KBZ becomes the ninth carrier (and third from Myanmar) to link destinations in Myanmar and Thailand together. The market leaders are Thai AirAsia, Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways who each have 20% of the market followed by Nok Air (13%) and Myanmar National Airlines (8%). Air KBZ’s new route gives it just 0.7% of seats but 1.6% of flights between the two neighbouring nations.
British Airways started its second operation to Innsbruck on 4 December, with its four times weekly service from London Heathrow adding to its existing twice-weekly route from London Gatwick.
- British Airways has added a third route to Austria from its London Heathrow (LHR) hub, starting four times weekly services to Innsbruck (INN) on 4 December. The flights complement the airline’s existing operations to Vienna (27 times weekly) and Salzburg (twice-weekly) from the oneworld carrier’s base. BA now offers two routes into the capital of Austria’s western state of Tyrol, with twice-weekly flights already flown from London Gatwick. The A320-operated 970-kilometre city pair will face no direct competition.
- Cobalt commenced its first route to France on 4 December, a link between its Larnaca (LCA) hub and Paris CDG (CDG). The 2,980-kilometre airport pairing will be flown by the carrier twice-weekly (Thursdays and Sundays) on A319s. The link is already served by Aegean Airlines, which according to OAG schedules also operates twice-weekly on the same days as Cobalt. Paris becomes Cobalt’s seventh destination from Larnaca, with an eighth – Birmingham – launching on 10 December. Its other routes are Athens, Chania, Heraklion, London Stansted, Manchester and Thessaloniki. This summer the airline also launched flights to Dublin. However the route has subsequently ended, with it not bookable for next summer. According to ch-aviation, Cobalt currently has three aircraft in its fleet: two A319s and one A320.
flydubai added Thailand to its network portfolio on 29 November, commencing a double-daily 737-800-operated service to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi. Ghaith Al Ghaith, flydubai CEO said: “Today’s inaugural flight to Bangkok is a significant milestone for our airline and represents the increasing maturity of flydubai’s network.
- flydubai has officially launched its Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) service, marking the start of its first double-daily route outside of the GCC. The inaugural flight from Dubai (DXB) took place on 29 November, with Thailand becoming the latest addition to flydubai’s network of more than 90 destinations. Commenting on the launch, Ghaith Al Ghaith, flydubai CEO said: “Today’s inaugural flight to Bangkok is a significant milestone for our airline and represents the increasing maturity of flydubai’s network. We look forward to offering business and leisure travellers from both Dubai and Bangkok increased choice and flexibility across our network.” Flights on the 737-800-operated sector will face competition from parent company Emirates, which flies to the Thai capital six times daily, as well as a daily service from Thai Airways.
There was an arch of balloons to welcome passengers at Da Nang Airport on Jetstar Pacific Airlines’s inaugural service to Taipei on 2 December. No other carrier operates this route, which will be flown three times weekly by the LCC’s A320 fleet.
- Jetstar Pacific Airlines on 2 December began a route not already flown by another carrier, between Da Nang (DAD) and Taipei Taoyuan (TPE). This 1,685-kilometre route will be flown three times weekly. All of Jetstar Pacific’s new routes will be operated by the carrier’s A320 fleet.
At Delhi Airport there appeared to be a ribbon tieing rather than ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the arrival of Korean Air’s new five times weekly service from Seoul Incheon. The route is already served daily by Asiana Airlines.
- Korean Air on 1 December began a five times weekly service on the 4,651-kilometre route between Seoul Incheon (ICN) and Delhi (DEL). The SkyTeam carrier will use its A330-200s to serve the market. Competition is provided by Star Alliance member Asiana Airlines who operate the route on a daily basis. The only other non-stop service linking South Korea and India is Korean Air’s three times weekly service between Seoul and Mumbai. Korean Air now serves 94 destinations in 38 countries non-stop from Seoul Incheon. The airline’s leading country markets for weekly flights are China (148), Japan (145) and US (80). India moves up to 17th place out of the 38 countries with eight weekly flights. See this route launch’s fire truck water arch in our weekly Arch of Triumph competition.
Brrrrrrrrrrr! It looks chilly in Lapland…but that is kind of the point of why Monarch Airlines has started twice-weekly flights to Kittila from London Gatwick and Manchester airports. Both services started on 2 December.
- Monarch Airlines has bolstered its presence in the highly competitive and very short-season Christmas trip market, with twice-weekly services from London Gatwick (LGW) and Manchester (MAN) to Kittila (KTT) in Finland both starting on 2 December. Commenting on the numerous new routes to northern Finland this winter, Finavia Director Joni Sundelin says: “In all, almost a thousand flights will land in Lapland in December. That is a big number. The planes will be full of enthusiastic travellers prepared to enjoy the magnificent tourism opportunities of the north. Our close cooperation with the tourism industry is now bearing fruit.” From the London airport, Thomson Airways provides direct competition twice-weekly; whereas from Manchester the same airline offers five weekly flights, with Thomas Cook Airlines also flying on a weekly basis. While the majority of flights on both services will be flown by the airline’s A321 fleet, the first flight from Manchester was operated by one of its A320s. The London service operates until mid-February but the last Manchester flight is on 6 January according to OAG data.
- Myanmar Airways International has launched a sixth international route from Yangon (RGN). On 1 December the carrier began twice-weekly (Thursdays and Sundays) flights on the 1,027-kilometre route to Kolkata (CCU) in India using its A319s. Competition comes from Air India’s weekly service. Myanmar Airways’ other international routes from Yangon are to Bangkok, Gaya, Guangzhou, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The Myanmar-India market is a developing market with just 14 flights per week between the two countries; eight from Myanmar Airways, four from Air India and two from Myanmar National Airlines. Three of the weekly flights are to Kolkata while the remaining 11 are all to Gaya, which serves the Buddhist temple city of Bodhgaya, popular with Buddhist tourists from south-east Asia.
Touching down in Rovaniemi in Finland after the 3,079-kilometre sector from London Gatwick is a Norwegian 737-800. The route will be operated twice-weekly and faces direct competition from two incumbents.
- Norwegian has added its 35th destination from its London Gatwick (LGW) hub this week, with the start of twice-weekly (Mondays and Fridays) services to Rovaniemi (RVN) in Finland. Both Visit Rovaniemi and Visit Finland have been working with Finavia in order to establish the route. “In Rovaniemi, the official home town of Santa Claus, the tourist season now looks extremely good. We see a lot of potential with the new London-Rovaniemi route, because the UK is an important market area, not only during the festive season, but throughout the winter. We are pleased with the good cooperation with Visit Finland and Finavia”, says Sanna Kärkkäinen, Visit Rovaniemi CEO. Operated by the LCC’s short-haul workhorse from 2 December – its 737-800 fleet – the sector faces competition from Thomson Airways (three times weekly) and Thomas Cook Airlines (twice-weekly). The seasonal service is scheduled to operate until 24 March 2017.
Qantas has started its third route into Christchurch this week, adding a daily service from Melbourne to its existing flights from Brisbane and Sydney. Check-in celebrations were also held in New Zealand to mark the new route on 4 December.
- Qantas has added a third route to New Zealand from its Melbourne (MEL) base, starting a daily services to Christchurch (CHC) on 4 December. The flights complement the airline’s existing operations to Auckland (20 times weekly) and Wellington (daily) from the Victoria airport. Qantas now offers three routes into the largest city on the South Island, with daily sectors already flown from Brisbane and Sydney. The 737-800-operated city pair will face competition in the form of Air New Zealand (nine times weekly), Virgin Australia Airlines (eight), in-house LCC Jetstar Airways (six) and China Airlines (three).
United Airlines celebrated its arrival into Havana on 29 November with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The airline will link the Cuban capital to New York Newark and Houston Intercontinental, routes that will both be operated by its 737-800s.
On 3 December Houston Intercontinental heralded the start of United Airlines new link to Havana with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The Star Alliance member will operate the 1,502-kilometre sector weekly (Saturdays) facing no direct competition.
- United Airlines this week became the second carrier to link New York with Havana (HAV) when it launched a daily service between New York Newark (EWR) and the Cuban capital on 29 November. Although no direct competition is provided on the 2,111-kilometre airport pair, it should be noted that last week JetBlue Airways launched its own service to Havana from New York JFK. United will operate its newest connection from its Newark hub using its 737-800 fleet according to OAG schedules. A second connection to Havana was launched by the Star Alliance member on 3 December, a 1,502-kilometre link from Houston Intercontinental (IAH). Facing no direct competition, the link from United’s Texan hub will be flown weekly (Saturdays) on its 737-800s.
ViaAir commenced flights from Shenandoah on 30 November, launching a 12 times weekly operation to Charlotte Douglas. To celebrate, the Virginia airport held a small celebration which included sweet treats. ViaAir will operate the route on its ERJ 145s of which it currently has five in its fleet.
- ViaAir commenced flights between Shenandoah (SDH) and Charlotte Douglas (CLT) on 30 November. The 385-kilometre connection will be served by the carrier 12 times weekly on its ERJ 145s. According to OAG schedules, the city pair is not served by any other carrier, with ViaAir becoming Shenandoah’s only scheduled airline. Silver Airways did serve Shenandoah until 29 November, the day on which it ended its twice-daily service from Washington Dulles. From 11 December, ViaAir will begin a one-stop service to Orlando that will operate twice-weekly (Wednesdays and Sundays) via Charlotte Douglas. According to OAG schedules, ViaAir now offers six routes non-stop routes from Charlotte Douglas, including Beckley, St Augustine, Lewisburg and Parkersberg, as well as Shenandoah and Orlando. According to ch-aviation, ViaAir has nine aircraft in its fleet: four EMB 120s and five ERJ 145s. See this route launch’s fire truck water arch in our weekly Arch of Triumph competition.
Kim Day, CEO, Denver Airport makes a speech to celebrate the arrival of Volaris’s new twice-weekly non-stop service from Monterrey which launched on 1 December. The LCC already serves the Colorado airports from Chihuahua, Guadalajara and Mexico City (photograph provided courtesy of Denver International Airport).
- Volaris has added a new US destination from its Monterrey (MTY) hub, with the launch on 1 December of twice-weekly flights on the 1,621-kilometre route to Denver (DEN) in Colorado. Volaris already serves Denver from Chihuahua, Guadalajara and Mexico City. This new service appears to replace the twice-weekly service to Dallas/Fort Worth which was suspended on 29 November. The Denver route is not served by any other carrier. Denver Airport CEO Kim Day, said: “The addition of a new destination to Denver’s growing portfolio of non-stop services is very exciting. Volaris has contributed significantly to the growth in international passenger traffic at Denver since starting service in 2012. They are now the only airline to serve the three largest cities in Mexico – Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey – non-stop from Denver.” Volaris already serves Chicago O’Hare year-round from Monterrey, a route it started back in June of this year. Denver is now connected non-stop to seven destinations in Mexico by a variety of carriers with Monterrey joining Cancún, Chihuahua, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta and San Jose del Cabo. See this route launch’s fire truck water arch in our weekly Arch of Triumph competition.
Volaris’s Costa Rican subsidiary was launched on 30 November with an A320 in a special livery. There was also a ribbon cutting ceremony before the airline’s first flight to Guatemala, a route it will operate twice-daily in competition with Avianca and Copa Airlines.
- Volaris Costa Rica a new LCC (with IATA code of Q6) has begun operations from San Jose (SJO) in Costa Rica. The airline’s first flight on 30 November was on the 855-kilometre route to Guatemala City (GUA). It will operate the route twice-daily with a single A320 it has wet-leased from parent company Volaris, and will face competition from Avianca (14 weekly flights) and Copa Airlines (10 weekly flights). In the 11 months to the end of November, Volaris itself has carried 13.5 million passengers (up 25.7% versus 2015) of which almost 2.7 million were on international services (up 27.0% versus 2015). The year to date load factor is up over four percentage points to 86%. See this route launch’s fire truck water arch in our weekly Arch of Triumph competition.
Rennes Airport hosted a London-themed event, complete with red telephone box and Union Jack-adorned cakes to herald the start of Vueling’s three times weekly service to London Gatwick on 29 November.
- Vueling, the IAG-owned LCC, has commenced a three times weekly service from Rennes (RNS) to London Gatwick (LGW) on 29 November. The 357-kilometre sector becomes its second service from the French regional airport, joining Barcelona, and its eighth from Gatwick, adding to existing flights to Asturias, Barcelona, Bilbao, Florence, Paris CDG, Rome Fiumicino and Santiago de Compostela. Operated by the LCC’s A320 fleet, the city pair faces no direct competition.