New airline routes launched (9 May 2017 – 15 May 2017)

Avianca’s Bogota to Montevideo

Avianca Montevideo

In charge of cutting the ribbon in Montevideo to officially open Avianca’s new route from Bogota was the Colombian Ambassador to Uruguay, Natalia Abello Vives. Avianca will operate daily flights on the 4,785-kilometre city pairing.

  • Avianca on 15 May began daily flights between Bogota (BOG) and Montevideo (MVD). With this latest launch, Avianca become the only carrier to offer non-stop service between the countries of Colombia and Uruguay according to OAG schedules. In fact, no carrier has connected these two countries with non-stop flights for at least a decade. The 4,785-kilometre route will be flown by Avianca daily on its fleet of A319s. For Avianca, this becomes its second link to Montevideo, with it already linking the city with Lima with daily flights flown under its subsidiary Avianca Peru.    

Thomas Cook Airlines’ Manchester to San Francisco

Customers onboard the Thomas Cook Airlines inaugural flight from Manchester to San Francisco were treated to a celebration of US entertainment and refreshments at the gate, with a spectacular Golden Gate Bridge cake marking the start of this fantastic new route for the airline. Two lucky winners from a month-long Gaydio competition won a trip to San Francisco for four days after completing a final challenge at check-in.

  • Thomas Cook Airlines launched its inaugural San Francisco (SFO) flight from Manchester (MAN) on 14 May, confirming its position as the biggest carrier to the US from the UK airport. Thomas Cook’s Chief Airlines and Hotels Officer, Christoph Debus, said: “This is such an amazing day for our customers and our airline. Our direct US flights are so great for customer, offering more amazing destinations than any other carrier from Manchester. We are the largest long-haul carrier from Manchester.” Stephen Turner, Commercial Director at Manchester Airport, said: “We are absolutely delighted to see Thomas Cook Airlines’ inaugural flight to San Francisco leave from Manchester, the UK’s global gateway to and from the North. Manchester is the only UK airport outside of London to offer direct services to San Francisco and gives our 26.5m annual passengers easy access to the West Coast of the US. Furthermore it showcases the role Manchester Airport plays in UK aviation, offering passengers in our catchment area easy, direct options from their local airport. I am sure this route will be a success and hope all the passengers on the first flight have a great trip to the US.” Twice-weekly flights (Sundays and Thursdays) to San Francisco are operated by the airline’s A330-200s, and face competition from Virgin Atlantic Airways’ three times weekly service.

The rest of this week’s new routes (A – Z by airline)

airBaltic Riga Catania

Seen cutting the blood orange-themed cake in Riga, with the fruit a typical agricultural product of eastern Sicily, in particular of the territories of Catania and Syracuse, are: Liene Freivalde, Director Aviation Services and Business Development Department, Riga Airport; Wolfgang Reuss, SVP Network Management, airBaltic; and Laura Audariņa, Route Development Manager, Riga Airport. The route between Riga and Catania will be flown weekly (Thursdays).

  • airBaltic commenced its latest route from Riga (RIX) on 11 May, beginning a weekly (Thursdays) service to Catania (CTA). The 2,260-kilometre sector will be flown by the airline on its fleet of CS300s according to OAG schedules, making it the first new route anywhere in the world to be launched using this aircraft type. No other carrier currently operates the city pairing. Wolfgang Reuss, SVP of Network Management at airBaltic said of the new route: “We are delighted to add Catania to our summer season flights and to offer yet another sunny destination with convenient connections. Catania is the second largest city in Sicily, which in turn is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and it is a perfect place for summer holidays.” The news of Catania joining airBaltic’s network follows on from the airline’s recent launch of flights from Riga to Aberdeen, Geneva and Stavanger.     

Indianapolis welcomed the arrival of Alaska Airlines on 11 May, with the Indiana airport welcoming its newest carrier by hosting an Indy 500 Alaska Airlines-themed racing car in the terminal, while a cake and a ribbon cutting were also conducted. Seen speaking at the airport to welcome Alaska Airlines is Joe Hogsett, Mayor of Indianapolis.

  • Alaska Airlines added the city of Indianapolis (IND) to its network on 11 May by beginning daily flights from Seattle-Tacoma (SEA). The 2,993-kilometre sector will be flown by the airline on a mixture of its 737s, with no other carrier offering direct competition. “This flight is a testament to the power of collaboration and a collective commitment to uplift Indianapolis,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett at the launch. “But this is truly more than a new flight. It’s a new route to economic development, job creation and talent retention – a new connection with the West Coast for businesses in Indianapolis, and across our state.” Since announcing its intention to serve Indianapolis with flights from Seattle in August 2016, Alaska Airlines has also announced it will be adding a non-stop, daily service from San Francisco beginning 26 September. “The investment of a second flight to a crucial market, so quickly after announcing its non-stop daily flight to Seattle, makes a statement that Alaska Airlines anticipates Indianapolis can deliver the business and leisure passenger traffic they need to run successful routes out of our city,” said Mario Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority. This year’s 101st running of the Indy 500 takes place on Sunday 28 May and will feature for the first time double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso.

Cebu Pacific Air begins Cebu to Busuanga route

Gate 25B was where Cebu Pacific Air celebrated the launch of three times weekly flights from Cebu to Busuanga on Monday 15 May. The route will be flown using CebGo’s ATR 72s and will face competition from Philippine Airlines’ daily service.

  • Cebu Pacific Air added another domestic route on 15 May. On that day it began three times weekly (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) service between Cebu (CEB) and Busuanga (USU). The 467-kilometre sector will be operated by CebGo using its ATR 72s. Competition is provided by Philippine Airlines which already serves the route daily with a Q400. Cebu Pacific now serves over 30 destinations from Cebu of which just five are outside of the Philippines. It and CebGo account for 42% of scheduled seat capacity at the airport. This makes it the biggest carrier at the airport ahead of Philippine Airlines (28%) and Philippines AirAsia (12%).

Czech Airlines Aarhus

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at Aarhus Airport on 11 May, officially opening Czech Airlines’ new service from Prague. Among those taking part in the celebrations on the apron at Aarhus were: David Surley, Head of Airline Relations, Aarhus Airport (left); Peter Høgsberg, CEO Aarhus Airport (third-left); Jiri Brodsky, Czech Ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark (second-right); and Claus Wistoft, Mayor of Syddjurs Municipality (right), along with part of the first flight crew. Facing no direct competition, the 729-kilometre route will be flown four times weekly.

  • Czech Airlines has added a further two European airports to its string of recently added destinations from Prague (PRG) this week, with the SkyTeam member starting flights to Aarhus (AAR) and Lisbon (LIS). Launched 10 May, flights to the Portuguese capital will be flown on the airline’s A319s, while Aarhus, which commenced on 11 May, will be flown on the carrier’s ATR 72-500s, according to OAG schedules. While flights on the 729-kilometre sector to Aarhus will face no direct competition, the carrier’s new 2,227-kilometre link to Lisbon will go head-to-head with TAP Portugal which already offers eight weekly flights. See how Aarhus Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world

Edelweiss Air Costa Rica

This exquisite cake, bringing the truly realistic sights of the Costa Rican rainforest to Zurich Airport, was baked to celebrate the start of Edelweiss Air’s new twice-weekly service between Zurich and San Jose. On hand to celebrate the new route at the Swiss airport were the airline’s CEO Bernd Bauer and CCO Alain Chisari.

  • Edelweiss Air began its latest long-haul route from Zurich (ZRH) on 9 May, a twice-weekly connection to San Jose (SJO) in Costa Rica. The 9,390-kilometre sector will be operated by the carrier twice-weekly (Tuesdays and Fridays) on its 314-seat A340-300s. Commenting on the launch, Bernd Bauer, CEO of Edelweiss Air, said: “Demand for the new route to Costa Rica is high. Not only is the first flight fully booked, but also the return flight in the evening.” According to OAG schedules, no other carrier operates this city pair. The next route planned for Edelweiss Air from Zurich is San Diego, with the link to the Californian city scheduled to begin on 9 June. 

Belina Neumann, Head of Aviation Marketing & Business Development, Vienna Airport and Bernd Behrend, Sales & Marketing Manager, Stobart Air do the cake cutting honours to herald the start of Flybe’s new service from London Southend.

  • Flybe, in conjunction with franchise partner Stobart Air, started on 10 May services between London Southend (SEN) and Vienna (VIE) and Reus  (REU). The UK airline will fly to the Austrian capital three times weekly (Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays), leaving London at 11:45 and arriving at 15:00 in Vienna. The return flight, operated by the airline’s E195 fleet, takes off from Austria at 15:45 and lands back in Southend at 17:00. “London is one of the most frequently visited cities around the world, and an important metropolis for tourism and business. In 2016, London was the most popular city for people departing from Vienna, attracting more than 600,000 passengers. In total, Vienna is linked to five airports in London by five airlines. The new flight service offered by Flybe increases the number of weekly connections this summer by three to a total of 88 flights”, said Julian Jäger, Member of the Management Board of Vienna Airport. “The London airport Southend is becoming increasingly popular due to its short distance to the city, quick baggage pick-up and the train station located directly in front of the terminal. For this reason, we are pleased that this new Flybe service provides for an even greater selection of flights between Vienna and London, both for business travellers, as well as for vacationers”, states Bernd Behrend, Sales & Marketing Manager of Stobart Air. Services on the three times weekly sector to the Spanish city of Reus will be flown by RJ85. Neither airport pair faces any direct competition. See how Reus Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world

Germania now offers 16 destinations from Bremen, having started a weekly operation to Dalaman on 15 May. The German airport’s CCO Florian Kruse (left) delivered the flowers to the inaugural flight crew.

  • Germania launched two new routes from two different German airports this week. First up was a weekly (Saturdays) sector from Rostock (RLG) to Kos (KGS) in Greece, which commenced on 13 May. The service joins the airline’s existing operations from the German airport to Palma de Mallorca (four times weekly), Antalya (twice-weekly) and Heraklion (weekly). It will be joined on 19 May by a twice-weekly service to Zurich. On 15 May, Germania began a weekly (Mondays) route from Bremen (BRE) to Dalaman (DLM) in Turkey. The carrier now offers 37 weekly flights from the German airport, spread across 16 destinations. Neither route faces any direct competition and both are operated by the airline’s A319 fleet.

Jetstar Airlines launches Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City service

Melbourne Airport celebrated the launch of Jetstar Airways’ three times weekly service to Ho Chi Minh City on 10 May. The Qantas-owned LCC will be competing with Vietnam Airlines which is currently serving the route with five weekly flights. (Source: SDP Media)

  • Jetstar Airways has resumed flights to Vietnam after a five year hiatus. On 10 May, the Qantas-owned LCC began three times weekly flights on the 6,693-kilometre route between Melbourne (MEL) and Ho Chi Minh City (SGN). The following day it launched four times weekly flights between Sydney (SYD) and the Vietnamese city. Both routes will be flown by the airline’s 335-seat 787-8s. SkyTeam member Vietnam Airlines already serves both routes with five times weekly flights. Between September 2008 and March 2012 Jetstar had served Ho Chi Minh City from Darwin, while its last service from Sydney was back in August 2008. Dean Salter, CEO, Jetstar Airways, said: “There is enormous potential for Vietnam to become one of the most popular destinations for Australian travellers thanks to its wonderful year-round climate and great beaches, food and culture. We are already the biggest Australian carrier operating into Bali, Phuket and Hawaii – Vietnam is the next step in expanding our international network for budget conscious travellers.” In Ho Chi Minh City passengers can connect onto flights of Jetstar Pacific Airlines which is a joint venture between Qantas and Vietnam Airlines.

KLM Amsterdam to Gdansk

Gdansk Airport welcomed the arrival of KLM on 15 May. Seen cutting the cake in the Polish city are: Yeshwant Pawar, GM Air France-KLM for the Alps, Balkans and Central Europe; Ron van Dartel, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Poland; and Tomasz Kloskowski, Chairman of the Board, Gdansk Airport. KLM will operate the route from Amsterdam daily.

KLM Amsterdam Graz

Braving the rain in Graz to officially open KLM’s new service from Amsterdam were: Josef Herk, President of the Economic Chamber of Styria; Horst Schachner, Chairman, ÖGB Steiermark; Guido Hackl, Country Manager Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia for Air France-KLM; DI Wolfgang Malik, Chairman of the Management Board of Holding Graz – Kommunale Dienstleistungen; Gerhard Widmann, MD Graz Airport; Kirsten Pronk, VP Finance & Control, KLM Cityhopper; Barbara Eibinger-Miedl, Minister for Economic Affairs, Tourism, Europe, Science and Research; Siegfried Nagl, Mayor of Graz; and Michael Schickhofer, Deputy Head of State. The route from Amsterdam will be flown daily.

  • KLM has added three new European airports to its network this week, linking its hub at Amsterdam (AMS) to Gdansk (GDN), Graz (GRZ) and Porto (OPO), with all three routes launching 15 May. Commenting on the launch of flights on the 935-kilometre link to Gdansk, Yeshwant Pawar, GM Air France-KLM for the Alps, Balkans and Central Europe, said: “We observe the high demand for flights to Gdansk from passengers from the Netherlands and Western Europe, as we know the city of Gdansk, with such a long history, is a very popular and interesting tourist destination. What’s more, the Polish economy is doing well, so this is another argument for coming here to northern Poland.” Flights to Gdansk, along with the 967-kilometre connection with Graz, will not face direct competition. However, services on the 1,593-kilometre route to Porto will go head-to-head with TAP Portugal (daily flights), Transavia (daily) and Vueling (three times weekly). While Porto services will be flown on the SkyTeam member’s 737-300s, both Gdansk and Graz will be served by KLM’s fleet of 88-seat E175s. The addition of Gdansk, Graz and Porto to KLM’s network adds to the airline’s recent launch of flights from Amsterdam to Cagliari, Catania and Split. As a result the Dutch flag carrier will be serving 146 destinations non-stop from its home base this summer, an increase of 11 compared with last summer. See how Gdansk, Graz and Porto airports FTWAs compare to others from around the world

LOT Polish Airlines Pula

Seen assisting the inaugural flight crew in the cutting of the ribbon to officially open LOT Polish Airlines’ weekly service from Warsaw Chopin on 14 May is Pula Airport Director Svemira Radmila (right). The Croatian airport also baked a cake to welcome the Star Alliance member which will operate the route on its fleet of Q400s.

  • LOT Polish Airlines has now added Pula (PUY) in Croatia to its network, starting weekly (Sundays) flights from Warsaw Chopin (WAW). The 958-kilometre airport pairing, launched on 14 May, will be served by the Star Alliance member on its fleet of Q400s, with no other airline offering flights on the route. Pula becomes the fourth Croatian airport to join LOT Polish Airlines’ network, with the carrier also linking its Chopin hub to Split (weekly), Zadar (twice-weekly) and Zagreb (six times weekly) this summer. In total the Polish flag carrier will serve 69 destinations non-stop this summer from its Warsaw hub, seven more than in S16. See how Pula Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world

Luxair Luxembourg Biarritz

Donning their French berets, the inaugural crew celebrate the start of Luxair’s new route between Luxembourg and Biarritz, a route that will be flown weekly (Saturdays) on the carrier’s Q400s. Flights will operate until 16 September.

  • Luxair has added the French town of Biarritz (BIQ) to its network, beginning weekly (Saturdays) flights from Luxembourg (LUX). The 901-kilometre sector will be flown by the airline on its Q400s, with no other carrier serving the route. The airline will operate the city pairing throughout S17, with the last flight of the summer season scheduled to operate on 16 September. Biarritz becomes Luxair’s third destination in mainland France, with it also serving Paris CDG and Nice. The airline also operates summer seasonal flights to the four airports on the French island of Corsica; Ajaccio, Bastia, Calvi and Figari. In total it means that the airline this summer will offer 33 weekly flights between Luxembourg and seven destinations in France. 

St. Petersburg welcomed the arrival of Nordica and its new service from Tallinn on 15 May. Seen cutting the route launch cake are Sven Kukemelk, Executive Director, Business Development, Nordica and Vladimir Yakushev, CEO of St. Petersburg Airport. The 307-kilometre route will be flown by the carrier 13 times weekly.

  • Nordica commenced flights to St. Petersburg (LED) on 15 May, connecting the Russian city to Tallinn (TLL) in Estonia with 13 weekly flights. The 307-kilometre route will be served by the airline on CRJ 900s operated by LOT Polish Airlines. While no direct competition is on the route at present, from 22 May RusLine will begin operating this city pairing, with it also planning to operate 13 weekly flights according to OAG schedules. The next destination that will join Nordica’s network is Gothenburg, with it planning to begin flights between Tallinn and the Swedish city from 28 August. See how St. Petersburg Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world

The airport ceremony was attended by Qatar Airways Acting CCO Ehab Amin, who was warmly greeted by Governor of Yanbu Musaed bin Yahya Al-Saleem and Director of Western Airports, Suliman Al-Rawaf, followed by an exchange of gifts in the presence of local officials and media.

  • Qatar Airways continues to grow its network in Saudi Arabia with the launch of three weekly flights to Yanbu (YNB), its ninth destination in the Kingdom. On 9 May the inaugural flight (QR 1216) from Doha (DOH), landed at Prince Abdulmohsin Bin Abdulaziz Airport in Yanbu at 15:35. Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said: “As our ninth destination in the Kingdom, Yanbu will bring additional flexibility for passengers connecting from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. Passengers departing from Yanbu will now be able to travel seamlessly through our state-of-the-art Doha hub, Hamad International Airport, to more than 150 destinations. At the same time this will provide passengers travelling to Saudi Arabia from international markets the convenience of another gateway in the Kingdom.” Director of Western Airports, Suliman Al-Rawaf, said: “Yanbu airport is witnessing a notable growth in the number of international flights, with about 650,000 passengers served in 2016 onboard 5,392 flights. We have completed preparations to increase the airport’s ability to receive even more international flights, including inbound flights from neighbouring countries in the region.” On its three weekly flights to and from Yanbu, the airline will fly its 144-seat A320s, and faces no direct competition. Qatar Airways now operates 154 non-stop weekly flights to nine key cities in Saudi Arabia. Additional frequency to Yanbu will commence on 23 June. See how Yanbu Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world

Andreas Ley, Senior Consultant Airline Marketing, Berlin Brandenburg Airport (second right) was on hand to help mark the start of S7 Airlines’ second service into the German capital, this time from St. Petersburg. It already operates a daily flight from Moscow Domodedovo.

  • S7 Airlines launched flights from St. Petersburg (LED) to Berlin Tegel (TXL) on 9 May, flying from the city on the River Neva three times weekly. St. Petersburg is the Russian airline’s second route from Berlin – it started flights from Moscow Domodedovo in March 2016. This summer, the S7 network from the Russian city includes seven routes (before it was only two – Moscow and Novosibirsk), now it also offers Bryansk, Kaluga, Kaliningrad and Yaroslavl, with Berlin being its first international destination from Pulkovo. The S7 Group is in the top five airlines in terms of traffic at the airport, in 2016 it carried 1.1m passengers at Pulkovo (+49% to 2015). The route which faces no direct competition, is the oneworld carrier’s only German service from the Russian second city. The 1,316-kilometre sector is flown by a mixture of S7’s narrow-body equipment. 

SpiceJet connects Thiruvananthapuram with Male

  • SpiceJet now serves the Maldives non-stop from two airports in India. On 10 May the carrier began daily flights on the 605-kilometre sector from Thiruvananthapuram (TRV) to Malé (MLE). Q400s will be flown on the route, which is also operated by Air India (daily) and Maldivian (six times weekly). SpiceJet’s first route to Malé was launched on 29 November 2012 from Kochi. The Indian carrier now operates 19 international routes of which five are flown with its Q400s. Apart from Malé, the airline’s other international destinations are Bangkok, Colombo, Dhaka, Dubai, Kabul and Muscat.

Viva Air Peru Lima

Officially opening Viva Air Peru’s first flight with a ribbon cutting are William Shaw, CEO of Viva Air Peru, and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, President of Peru. The airline this week has launched six domestic routes from Lima.

  • Viva Air Peru took to the skies of South America this week by launching six domestic routes from Lima (LIM). The airline was set-up by Irelandia Aviation, the company led by Declan Ryan, son of Ryanair founder Tony Ryan. This will be the company’s third foray into the Latin American budget airline market with it having also been the brains behind VivaAerobus in Mexico and VivaColombia. The former was set up in Monterrey in 2006 and the latter in Medellín in 2012, and both are modelled on the Ryan family’s best-known creation, Ryanair. The new Peruvian carrier will operate nine routes in 2017, while this week it has begun by linking Lima with the six cities of Arequipa (AQP), Chiclayo (CIX), Iquitos (IQT), Piura (PIU), Tarapoto (TPP) and Trujillo (TRU). The airline also plans to link Lima with Cuzco, with flights scheduled to begin on 20 June, while it will also link Arequipa with Cuzco (begins 21 June) and Tacna (6 July). The average frequency of the airline’s first batch of routes is 4.6 and the average sector length is 730 kilometres. All routes face direct competition, with all of them going head-to-head with national carrier LATAM Airlines. See how Iquitos Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
9-May Lima (LIM) Iquitos (IQT) A320 (3) LATAM Airlines (37), Peruvian Airlines (14), Avianca (7)
Trujillo (TRU) LATAM Airlines (24), Avianca (14), LC Perú (7)
10-May Piura (PIU) A320 (7) LATAM Airlines (38), Avianca (14)
Tarapota (TPP) A320 (4) LATAM Airlines (26), Peruvian Airlines (20), Star Perú (7)
11-May Arequipa (AQP) A320 (7) LATAM Airlines (55), Peruvian Airlines (26), Avianca (14), LC Perú (7)
12-May Chiclayo (CIX) A320 (4) LATAM Airlines (26), LC Perú (14)
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser data for w/c 16 May 2017. WF = Weekly Frequency.


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