Six more city pairs adopted in Unserved Route of the Week feature – success rate soars to 22%

Our continued cooperation with Skyscanner, the leading flight comparison site, has now seen 15 of the 67 Unserved Route of the Week city pairs featured being picked up by 14 different airlines, and ranging from flag carriers to ULCCs. As a result, our success rate has risen from 16% earlier this year, to 22%. What other piece of route development data analysis can boast such a ROI?

For those of you still bizarrely unaware of this ground-breaking feature, Unserved Route of the Week draws on the aspirational data captured from Skyscanner’s leading flight comparison site which has more than 60 million unique visitors every month. Based on Skyscanner’s cutting edge Travel Insight big data solution, the feature identifies market route demand for routes currently unserved by the industry, but for which there lies a substantial commercial opportunity. 

In April, we looked at which of the unserved route opportunities we had featured that had been gladly swept up by the world’s airlines to become part of their respective networks. At that time, a total of nine airport pairs which had been a focus of the weekly analysis were on sale as new non-stop routes, giving and Skyscanner a 16% success rate. However, less than four months on, the number of potential routes which we have covered and subsequently adopted by carriers has risen to 15, from the 67 potential city pairs featured so far. This means that our success rate has increased to a staggering 22% – or more than one in five. We firmly believe that out of any data sources which are available to airport business development managers in the market, none of them have a hit rate as impressive as that!

This fantastic success comes just after Skyscanner released a White Paper exposing the fastest growing airports in the US, and revealing four locations which the travel search engine believes airlines should pay particular attention to where the commercial opportunity to grow is strong. The report highlights Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Las Vegas and Seattle-Tacoma as high-growth airports of the future, pointing to never-before-seen data which indicates the market opportunities at these airports and makes them strong prospects. 

Budapest-New York JFK – launches 3 May operated by LOT Polish Airlines

Just last month, went to Budapest to witness the airport announcing its latest route development victory and getting the oldest Unserved Route of the Week to New York (Amsterdam-Las Vegas now has this title) ticked-off its to-do list. At the time of writing the third-ever feature last year, we proposed that American Airlines should restart the route which it dropped in December 2011. Little did we know, and perhaps many in the industry too, that the sector would be picked up by LOT Polish Airlines, as well as twice-weekly services to Chicago O’Hare, from the Hungarian capital. Giving their route development success the big thumbs in front of one of the LOT 787-8s which will serve the four times weekly from 3 May next year, were the team at Budapest Airport, who have worked tirelessly to make this venture possible: Máté Ritter, Airline Development Manager; Timea Pálffy, Airline Marketing Manager; Nikolett Huszák, Airline and Property Marketing Manager; Sándor Saly, Senior Airline Development Manager; Marta Dimitrova, Assistant Editor,; and Balázs Bogáts, Head of Airline Development, Budapest Airport.

Krakow-Geneva – now served by easyJet

At Routes Europe in Kraków last year, the route development teams from the Polish airport host of the event and from Geneva met to discuss how to turn the 40,000 annual Skyscanner searches into new route reality.  On 1 November 2016, easyJet began a twice-weekly seasonal operation on the 1,098-kilometre city pair. Masterminding the start of service, which returns this winter on a three times weekly basis, were: Faical Allou, Business Development Manager, Skyscanner; Samer Jrab, Cargo and Business Development Manager, Geneva Airport; Yves-Daniel Viredaz, Head of Marketing & Business Development, Geneva Airport; Artur Staniszewski, Airlines Relationship Specialist, Kraków Airport; Jack Jewsbury, Marketing Executive, Skyscanner; and Pawel Galiak, Commercial Director, Kraków Airport.

Denver-Paris CDG – launches 9 April operated by Norwegian

When we covered this opportunity last June, Skyscanner’s Travel Insight software showed that 90,000 potential travellers had searched for non-stop flights between Denver and Paris. Announced just last month, Norwegian will start a twice-weekly service between the two cities in April next year. The LCC already serves New York JFK, Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles from the French capital, with flights to Orlando beginning just last week. US operations to Boston, Oakland and New York Newark will also be commenced in 2018.

Budapest-Valencia – launches 30 October operated by Ryanair

“The potential between Valencia and Budapest is huge; the numbers of indirect traffic are doubling year-on-year. Both cities can get business and leisure traffic with this route year-round,” suggests Miguel Angel Perez, Aviation Manager, Valencia Tourism. “Valencia is the fifth largest O&D pair from Budapest in mainland Spain, after Madrid, Barcelona, Alicante and Bilbao,” adds Balázs Bogáts, Head of Airline Development, Budapest Airport. These wise words from the two airports in question seem to have done the trick, along with the market potential of 100,000 Skyscanner searches in 12 months, with Ryanair launching the route from 30 October.

Sydney-Osaka Kansai – launches 14 December operated by Qantas

“Japan is our sixth largest inbound market with an incredible 32% growth last year alone,” said Sydney Airport MD and CEO Kerrie Mather after the announcement that Qantas is to offer non-stop seasonal (14 December 2017 to 24 March 2018) Osaka Kansai services. “We’re delighted to welcome an additional Qantas service during the northern winter to help meet this growing demand. Osaka is our largest unserved market, so this is great news for our customers and for the local visitor economy,” added Mather. Huh! No mention of the fact that we featured this unserved city pair in May this year, and hey presto Qantas decides to start the route three times weekly on its A330 fleet.

Caracas-Santiago – now served by Aerolíneas Estelar

According to OAG data, this twice-weekly service (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) from Caracas-based Aerolíneas Estelar started on 20 June, about a month after we made it Unserved Route of the Week. According to FlightRadar24, flight ETR 8600 between the capitals of Venezuela and Chile is yet to operate. According to the airline’s website (see advert above) they are offering the route twice-weekly, but on Tuesdays and Saturdays, however you can’t buy a seat on its booking tool. Despite this confusion (if there are any South American friends of feel free to help us resolve this matter), we are still claiming it as a victory.

Two Unserved Routes of the Week have attracted some service, but as yet, have not been turned into a ‘proper’ route as far as we are concerned. Delta Air Lines, during the first half of January 2018, plans to operate three 777 flights between Las Vegas – Amsterdam, coinciding with global consumer electronics and consumer technology tradeshow CES 2018. This city pair featured in February last year, and boasts a market potential of around 120,000 annual travellers. Another airport pair which was briefly operated by Vueling over W16/17 was the potential route from Prague to Florence. Indeed, we had suggested that the Spanish LCC should consider this sector, which clearly it has, but it is yet to fully commit.

Legacy carriers lead the way 

Of the 15 routes (and therefore 30 cities) which have been launched or have been announced to start, there has been significant diversity in terms of the carriers, airline business model and regions of the world which have benefited from these articles. Europe’s airports have featured 16 times, with North America deriving seven wins, followed by Oceania (three), Asia and South America (both two). So far, Ryanair is the only carrier to have picked up more than one new route (Glasgow-Brussels and Budapest-Valencia). However, legacy carriers (if there is still such a thing) lead the way in terms of adopting the potential new routes, snapping up 10 of the 15 city pairs. Hopefully our success rate will continue to improve as, along with its data partner Skyscanner, look to turn more potential routes in served ones.


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