New airline routes launched (12 December 2017 – 18 December 2017)

easyJet Geneva to Southampton

Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards joined the celebrations at Southampton Airport to mark the start of easyJet’s new service from Geneva on 14 December. The iconic British skier and sporting hero is best known for winning over the hearts of millions despite finishing last in the 1988 Winter Olympics ski jump competition.

  • easyJet has commenced four new routes over the last seven days from four different bases. The average sector length of the four new city pairs is 1,368 kilometres, with longest being the 2,409-kilometre service from Edinburgh (EDI) to Sofia (SOF), while the shortest was the 756-kilometre route from Geneva (GVA) to Southampton (SOU) – its first ever flight from the UK airport. “It’s fantastic to be here today to see off our first ever flight to Geneva,” said Ali Gayward, UK Country Manager for the LCC. “We are pleased to be expanding our network and starting easyJet flights from Southampton.” The average weekly frequency of the four new routes is 1.75. See how Southampton Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
14-Dec Geneva (GVA) Southampton (SOU) A320 (3) Flybe (3)
16-Dec Copenhagen (CPH) Ostersund (OSD) A319 (1)  
Edinburgh (EDI) Sofia (SOF) A320 (2)  
London Gatwick (LGW) Klagenfurt (KLU) A320 (1)  
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 19 December. WF = Weekly frequencies.

Porter Airlines Ottawa and Windsor to Orlando Melbourne

Porter Airlines Orlando Melbourne

When you triple the number of international routes from your airport, that calls for a celebration, and that is why Orlando Melbourne Airport baked this showstopping cake to toast the start of Porter Airlines’ new services from Ottawa and Windsor on 16 December, adding to its existing service from Toronto City.

  • Porter Airlines has tripled its route offering to Orlando Melbourne (MLB) this week, with the carrier beginning services from Ottawa (YOW) and Windsor (YQG) to the Floridian airport on 16 December. The airline already serves the Atlantic coastal destination seasonally from Toronto City, a route it inaugurated in December 2015. The Canadian regional carrier, which has an all Q400 fleet, will operate the 1,962- and 1,587-kilometre sectors weekly on Saturdays, the same day of operation as its Toronto City service. It should be noted that a few additional services have been added during the holiday period. Neither of the routes launched by Porter this week will face direct competition. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), Porter flew 901,573 passengers to/from the US in 2016, an increase of just under 11% when compared to the total it carried in the transborder market during 2015. Along with Melbourne, Porter serves Boston, Burlington, Chicago Midway, Myrtle Beach, New York Newark and Washington Dulles in the US. See how Orlando Melbourne Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world

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

Air Canada Rouge St. Vincent

Air Canada Rouge commenced flights between Toronto Pearson and St. Vincent Airport on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on 14 December. To celebrate, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the Canadian airport to officially open the new service. Flights on the 3,821-kilometre link will operate weekly (Thursdays). The link to St. Vincent is the only service launched by the airline from Pearson this week that will face no direct competition.

  • Air Canada Rouge has introduced four new services to its network in time for the peak of the W17/18 season, adding three connections from Toronto Pearson (YYZ), all of which will be flown on its A319s, while also inaugurating a long-haul sector from Montreal (YUL). The latter airport is now connected to Peru, with the carrier serving Lima (LIM) from the Quebec city, a 6,397-kilometre route it will operate on its 767-300s. All links from Pearson will be flown weekly, while the carrier’s new Lima service from Montreal will see a twice-weekly rotation (Tuesdays and Saturdays). See how St. Vincent Airport’s FTWA compares to others from round the world
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
14-Dec Toronto Pearson (YYZ) St. Vincent (SVD) A319 (1)  
15-Dec Belize City (BZE) WestJet (3)
16-Dec Montreal (YUL) Lima (LIM) B763 (2)  
18-Dec Toronto Pearson (YYZ) Cartagena (CTG) A319 (1) Air Transat (1)
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser data for w/c 19 December 2017. WF = Weekly Frequency.

Seen greeting Air Malta’s first service are Comiso Airport’s CEO Giorgio Cappello, and President Silvio Meli. Among the treats at the inaugural flight ceremony was a cake. The carrier will operate the route twice-weekly (Fridays and Sundays) on a mixture of its Airbus family aircraft, with the short 126-kilometre hop not currently served by any other airlines.

  • Air Malta commenced its shortest route to date from Malta (MLA) on 17 December, a 126-kilometre sector to Comiso (CIY) in Sicily. The service breaks the record for being the smallest sector by some 61 kilometres, beating the 187-kilometre link to Catania, also in Sicily. Air Malta will operate its latest service twice-weekly (Fridays and Sundays) on a mixture of A319s and A320s, with no other carrier at present linking the two airports. The Malta-based airline currently operates eight aircraft.    

Air Moldova Geneva

Seen cutting the cake in Geneva, baked to welcome the arrival of Air Moldova’s first service from Chisinau, are Iulian Scorpan, General Director and Pilot, Air Moldova, and Yves-Daniel Viredaz, Head of Marketing & Business Development, Geneva Airport. The duo were then joined on the apron for an official photo by: (fourth-left) Samer Jrab, Business Development & Cargo Manager, Geneva Airport; (fourth-right) Sergiu Malai, Director Ground Operations, Air Moldova; (second-right) Alexandre Koenig, Commercial Director, Dnata; (right) and Tamara Luca, Marketing Manager, Air Moldova.

  • Air Moldova now connects Chisinau (KIV) with Geneva (GVA). The Moldovan carrier began a twice-weekly (Mondays and Fridays) service between the two cities on 15 December, a 1,738-kilometre route that the airline will serve using a mixture of its A319s and E190s according to OAG schedules. Facing no direct competition, this becomes the only direct link between Moldova and Switzerland. This year, Air Moldova will have operated 1.49 million seats to/from Chisinau, a 17% increase versus the 1.27 million it flew in 2016. Along with Geneva, new destinations on Air Moldova’s network in 2017 include Dubai, a route inaugurated in November, and Krasnodar which started towards the beginning of this year’s summer season. See how Geneva Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world

Alaska Airlines Kona

Among the routes launched by Alaska Airlines this week was a daily connection from San Francisco to Kona in Hawaii, a sector that will be operated by Virgin America’s fleet of A320s. Along with the link to Hawaii, Alaska Airlines has also introduced services to Kansas City and St. Louis from San Diego, routes that will also be flown daily.

  • Alaska Airlines has expanded its US West Coast operation this week, launching a new 3,804-kilometre route from San Francisco (SFO) to Kona (KOA) in Hawaii, while also inaugurating flights to Kansas City (MCI) and St. Louis (STL) from San Diego (SAN). The 2,140- and 2,499-kilometre sectors from San Diego, which launched on 15 December, will both be flown daily on the airline’s fleet of E175s, while the connection to Hawaii from San Francisco, which started on 14 December, will be operated by A320s that are currently flying under the Virgin America brand. All three routes are to face direct competition, with the two routes to Missouri going head-to-head with Southwest Airlines (twice-daily to St. Louis and daily to Kansas City), while the San Francisco–Kona airport pair will face United Airlines which already provides twice-daily flights. OAG schedules show that the Star Alliance member will increase its frequency on the sector to three times daily from 20 December.  

American Airlines Cartagena

Passengers disembark American Airlines’ inaugural service between Miami and Cartagena, the airline’s only service to the Colombian city. The oneworld member, which launched the route on 15 December, will operate a daily rotation from its Floridian hub using its A319s, joining Avianca on the 1,778-kilometre city pair.

  • American Airlines has added two US domestic routes and two South American services to its network this week, with the launches resulting in the Colombian city of Cartagena (CTG) joining the oneworld carrier’s route map. Launched on 15 December, American introduced a daily service from Miami (MIA), a 1,778-kilometre route that it will serve using its A319s. This is the only route that will face direct competition, with it going head-to-head against Star Alliance member Avianca which already provides a daily service on the city pair. Along with the introduction of Cartagena, the airline has also expanded its presence at Rio de Janeiro Galeao (GIG), adding a three times weekly link from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), a sector it will operate on its 767-300s according to OAG schedules and data. American already serves Galeao Airport from Miami and New York JFK. See how Cartagena Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
15-Dec Phoenix (PHX) Aspen (ASE) CRJ7 (7)  
Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) Rio de Janeiro Galeao (GIG) B763 (3)  
Miami (MIA) Cartagena (CTG) A319 (7) Avianca (7)
16-Dec Charlotte Douglas (CLT) Montrose (MTJ) A319 (1)  
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser data for w/c 19 December 2017. WF = Weekly Frequency.

Avianca Brazil New York JFK

Seen pulling the ribbon at Sao Paulo Guarulhos to open Avianca Brazil’s new service to New York JFK are: Frederico Pedreira, President of Avianca Brazil; José Efromovich, CEO of Avianca Brazil; and Wilson de Souza, Operational Control Manager, Sao Paulo Guarulhos Airport. The 7,657-kilometre route will be flown daily.

  • Avianca Brazil launched flights between Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) and New York JFK (JFK) on 15 December, a 7,657-kilometre route that the Star Alliance member will serve daily on its fleet of A330-200s when referring to OAG schedules. The carrier becomes the fourth operator on the airport pair, joining LATAM Airlines which offers nine weekly flights between the North and South American airports, while US carriers American Airlines and Delta Air Lines both provide a daily rotation respectively. This becomes Avianca Brazil’s second route to the US, with it already serving Miami with a daily service from Guarulhos.  

Petra Cruz, Tourism Board Dominican Republic and Lutz Honerla, VP Marketing & Strategy, Düsseldorf Airport (holding the giant boarding card) welcomed the Eurowings crew which operated the inaugural flight from the German airport to Puerto Plata on 14 December. The 7,472-kilometre sector will be flown weekly.

  • Eurowings connected Düsseldorf (DUS) to Puerto Plata (POP) in Dominican Republic on 14 December and Cancún (CUN) in Mexico on 17 December, to become the low-cost long-haul carrier’s third and fourth routes from the German airport. The Lufthansa daughter airline already flies to Varadero in Cuba and Punta Cana in Dominican Republic. Both routes will be flown weekly, Thursdays for Puerto Plata and Mondays for Cancún, and both face no direct competition. The former will be operated by a mixture of equipment, whereas the Mexican service will be flown solely by its A330-200 fleet. See how Düsseldorf Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world

Finnair London Gatwick

Finnair made London Gatwick its second UK capital operation on 14 December when it commenced seasonal flights from Ivalo and Kittila, with the London hub welcoming its newest airline with this cake. Flights from Ivalo will operate on a twice-weekly (Thursdays and Sundays) basis while the Kittila service will be flown weekly (Tuesdays). Both routes will run until the last week of the W17/18 season when referring to OAG schedules.

  • Finnair commenced a quartet of routes from Lapland this week to three European capital airports, namely London Gatwick (LGW), Paris CDG (CDG) and Zurich (ZRH). Gatwick becomes a new point on the airline’s network, joining its existing London Heathrow operation in the UK capital, while CDG and Zurich are both already served from Helsinki. In the week following Finnair’s inaugural services to Gatwick from Kittila (KTT) and Ivalo (IVL), both will face direct competition. However, it should be noted that in 2018 these competing services will have ended according to OAG schedules, having run just for the peak period up to and after Christmas. Neither of Finnair’s new links to France or Switzerland will face competing airlines. All four routes launched by Finland’s national carrier this week will be flown until mid-March, ending just before the start of next year’s summer season.   
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
12-Dec Kittila (KTT) London Gatwick (LGW) A321 (1) Thomson Airways (5), easyJet (3), Thomas Cook Airlines (2)
Paris CDG (CDG)  
14-Dec Ivalo (IVL) London Gatwick (LGW) A32S (2) Thomson Airways (1), easyJet (4)
16-Dec Kittila (KTT) Zurich (ZRH) A321 (1)  
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser data for w/c 19 December 2017. WF = Weekly Frequency.

Flair Airlines Toronto Pearson

Cutting the ribbon at Toronto Pearson to open Flair Airlines’ new service to Edmonton are Mirza Smajic, Director of Passenger Sales & Marketing, Flair Airlines, and Scott Armstrong, Director of External Communications, Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA). The airline will operate the 2,689-kilometre link on its 737-400s.

  • Flair Airlines, which now operates a fleet of six 737-400s, added four new routes to its network this week. It will now operate from Edmonton (YEG) to Toronto Pearson (YYZ), Kelowna (YLW) and Vancouver (YVR). The carrier has also inaugurated a link from Vancouver to Kelowna. All four routes are poised to face intense direct competition. The average sector length of the four routes is 1,082 kilometres and the mean weekly frequency is 4.8. 
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
15-Dec Edmonton (YEG) Toronto Pearson (YYZ) B734 (7) Air Canada (56), WestJet (46)
Vancouver (YVR) B734 (5) WestJet (59), Air Canada (55)
Vancouver (YVR) Kelowna (YLW) B734 (4) Air Canada (68), WestJet (55), Air North (1)
16-Dec Edmonton (YEG) B734 (3) WestJet (38)
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser data for w/c 19 December 2017. WF = Weekly Frequency.

Sudhir Sreedharan (holding the flowers), SVP, Commercial Operations (GCC, Subcontinent and Africa) for flydubai and Makame Mnyaa Mbarawa (on the left of Sreedharan), Minister for Works, Transport and Communications of Tanzania were amongst the VIPs to welcome the start of the LCC’s service to Kilimanjaro on 15 December. flydubai showcased its new 737 MAX 8 – registered A6-MAX – on the route launch.

  • ‎flydubai’s inaugural flight to Kilimanjaro (JRO) on 15 December has increased the LCC’s capacity to Tanzania and further expanded its network in Africa to 12 destinations. The carrier will offer six flights a week to Kilimanjaro, three of which stop in the capital, Dar es Salaam and will increase the total number of flights to Tanzania to 14 flights a week. The service to Kilimanjaro from its Dubai (DXB) base sees the total number of flydubai destinations in Tanzania increase to three, along with Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. The carrier began operations to Tanzania in 2014. Sudhir Sreedharan, SVP Commercial Operations (GCC, Subcontinent and Africa) at flydubai, who led the carrier’s inaugural delegation, said: “Our service to Kilimanjaro follows an increase in passenger demand and reflects flydubai’s commitment to open up underserved markets. We look forward to offering six weekly flights on this route and to connecting travellers from across flydubai’s network with the Kilimanjaro region and vice versa.” The 737-800 operated service will face no direct competition. See how Kilimanjaro Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world

Tampa Airport is continuing its cake cooking storm this week with its latest launches, with the Floridian airport baking up three calorific concoctions for Frontier Airlines’ new links to Columbus, Kansas City and Nashville. Seen posing with the Kansas City cake are Tampa Airport’s: Debbie Thomas, Marketing Coordinator; Maria Cook, Events Manager; and Donald Fizell, Airport Operations Manager. Thomas and Cook also posed with the five-foot long guitar cake which was commissioned for the airline’s Nashville link.

Frontier Airlines Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids greeted the arrival of Frontier Airlines’ new link from Orlando with this classic two-tiered cake on 13 December. This becomes the carrier’s second link to Grand Rapids, with the carrier having inaugurated services from Southwest Florida on the 10 December. The airline will launch a link from Denver to Grand Rapids on 8 April.

  • Frontier Airlines launched six new US domestic services during the course of last week. Of the six routes, only one will face no direct competition, with that being the 1,765-kilometre sector between Orlando (MCO) and Cedar Rapids (CID). The remaining five services inaugurated by the airline will all go head-to-head with at least one carrier, with the number one route for competition being the 665-kilometre link from Las Vegas (LAS) to San Francisco (SFO). United Airlines, Virgin America and Southwest Airlines already operate a combined 152 weekly services between these two cities. The average weekly frequency of the six routes launched by Frontier this week is 3.2, while the mean sector length is 1,347 kilometres.    
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
13-Dec Orlando (MCO) Grand Rapids (GRR) A321 (4) Southwest Airlines (1)
16-Dec Kansas City (MCI) Tampa (TPA) A320 (3) Southwest Airlines (7)
Las Vegas (LAS) San Francisco (SFO) United Airlines (56), Virgin America (54), Southwest Airlines (42)
17-Dec Orlando (MCO) Cedar Rapids (CID) A321 (3)  
Tampa (TPA) Columbus (CMH) A320 (3) Southwest Airlines (19)
Nashville (BNA) Southwest Airlines (27)
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser data for w/c 19 December 2017. WF = Weekly Frequency.

Hong Kong Airlines celebrated the launch of services to Los Angeles at Hong Kong Airport on 18 December. Amongst the dignitaries in attendance were: George Liu, Chief Marketing Officer, Hong Kong Airlines; Vitoo Zhan, VP, Hong Kong Airlines; Wang Liya, Vice Chairman and President, Hong Kong Airlines; Fred Lam, CEO of Airport Authority Hong Kong; Kurt Tong, Consul General, US Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau; Zhang Kui, Co-Chairman, Hong Kong Airlines; Chan Fan, Secretary for Transport and Housing; Simon Li, Director-General of Civil Aviation; C.K. Ng, Executive Director – Airport Operations, Airport Authority Hong Kong; Kate Chang, Regional Director – China, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board; Tang King Shing, Vice Chairman, Hong Kong Airlines; and Ben Wong, COO, Hong Kong Airlines.

  • Hong Kong Airlines launched its first route to the US on 18 December, operating its inaugural flight from Hong Kong (HKG) to Los Angeles (LAX). The 11,661-kilometre airport pair will be flown four times per week by the airline’s A350s. The carrier faces competition on the route from two incumbent operators, with OAG schedules showing that Cathay Pacific Airways and American Airlines will offer 22 and seven flights respectively during the week commencing 19 December. Hong Kong Airlines plans to add further US destinations to its network with services to San Francisco and New York due to follow in 2018. “The launch of our new service to Los Angeles represents another step in our transition from a regional carrier to a global airline,” said Tang King Shing, Vice Chairman of Hong Kong Airlines. “As a popular destination for both leisure and business travel, Los Angeles is also one of the most substantial economic engines within the US. We are delighted to offer our customers more travel options for flights into Los Angeles.” See how Los Angeles Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world

JetBlue Airways launched flights between Orlando and Port-au-Prince on 14 December, with a ribbon cutting ceremony held at the US airport to open the 1,427-kilometre route. Among those speaking at the event was Josh Goldwitz, Director Airport Services & Planning, JetBlue Airways. The carrier is poised to operate the route daily.

  • JetBlue Airways commenced flights between Orlando (MCO) and Port-au-Prince (PAP) on 14 December, the carrier’s second route from Florida to the Haitien capital after Fort Lauderdale. “Haiti is a dynamic destination and we are very excited to connect the Haitien community from Orlando to Port-au-Prince,” said Joshua Goldwitz, the airline’s Airport Manager. Scheduled to be operated daily on the airline’s fleet of A320s, JetBlue will face direct competition on the 1,427-kilometre sector from Sunrise Airways, with it operating a six times weekly service between the two airports on its only 737-800 which is configured with 168 seats. The latter carrier only launched flights between Orlando and Port-au-Prince on 18 October. Along with Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, JetBlue also operates to Port-au-Prince from Boston and New York JFK. 

A ribbon was cut to mark the start of Qantas’ second service to Japan from its Sydney hub on 14 December. The three times weekly service to Osaka Kansai will join the carrier’s existing operation to Tokyo Haneda.

  • Qantas commenced two new routes in the last seven days, one domestic and one international. Flights from Sydney (SYD) to Osaka Kansai (KIX) were launched on 14 December. The 7,775-kilometre route will be flown three times weekly by a mixture of the airline’s A330 fleet, and joins its daily operation to Tokyo Haneda in terms of its services to Japan from Australia’s busiest airport. On 17 December, Qantas also began the 687-kilometre internal link from Melbourne (MEL) to Kingscote (KGC). The three times weekly sector, which is operated by the airline’s Q400s, joins the recently launched services from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island, which began on 4 December. There is no direct competition on either route.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, hosted a press conference at the Shangri-La Hotel in Chiang Mai on 13 December. The four times weekly service left Doha on 12 December, arriving in Thailand at 06:00 the following day.

  • Qatar Airways celebrated the launch of its fourth gateway in Thailand with its inaugural service to Chiang Mai (CNX) from its home-hub of Doha (DOH). Launched 12 December, the airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker said: “We are very excited to have launched our direct non-stop service to Chiang Mai. As our award-winning airline continues to grow its global network, expanding our presence with a fourth gateway into Thailand has always been a priority for us.” The Thai Ambassador to Qatar, Soonthorn Chaiyindeepum, said: “Everyone in Chiang Mai is delighted to welcome Qatar Airways to Thailand’s second largest city. This new route extends the deep bonds of friendship that already exist between our two countries. Nearly 3,400 Thai citizens have made Qatar their home, including 1,224 who work for Qatar Airways. We look forward to the opening of Qatar Airways’ fifth Thai gateway when flights to Utapao near Pattaya commence in January next year.” Qatar Airways will operate a four times weekly service to Chiang Mai on its 258-seat A330-200 fleet, with the route facing no direct competition. The oneworld carrier will expand its global network further in 2018 by adding flights to Canberra, Penang and Cardiff to name just a few. See how Chiang Mai Airport’s FTWA compare to others from around the world

Sky Airline Santiago

Sky Airline’s inaugural service between Santiago and Rio de Janeiro Galeao, launched 14 December, can be seen taxing towards its stand after landing at the Brazilian airport, with Galeao’s fire department preparing to give the A320 a welcoming water arch salute. The carrier will operate the 2,934-kilometre sector between the two airports twice-weekly (Thursdays and Saturdays). The airport pair is already served by LATAM Airlines and GOL.

  • Sky Airline now serves Brazil once again from its home base of Santiago (SCL), with the carrier this week beginning flights to Florianopolis (FLN) and Rio de Janeiro Galeao (GIG). The former, which will be flown three times weekly, launched on 13 December, while flights to Galeao, to be flown twice-weekly (Thursdays and Saturdays), commenced the following day. The last time that Sky Airline served Brazil was February 2016 according to OAG schedules, the month it decided to end its daily service to Sao Paulo Guarulhos from the Chilean capital. Along with its new routes to Brazil, Sky Airline also inaugurated a twice-weekly (Wednesdays and Sundays) service to Punta del Este (PDP) in Uruquay. This sector also launched on 13 December and the carrier will use its 150-seat A319s on the 1,450-kilometre hop. It will be the only airline to operate between the two cities. Both of the 2,218- and 2,934-kilometre routes to Brazil,will be served by Sky Airline’s A320s, and both will see head-to-head competition. The connections to Florianopolis and Galeao will each face competition from LATAM Airlines. The oneworld member offers 16 weekly flights on the former route and 25 weekly services on the latter sector. GOL also operates between Santiago and Galeao with a seven times weekly rotation. See how Rio de Janeiro Galeao Airport’s FTWA compares to others from around the world

Nguyen Thi Thuy Binh, VP VietJetAir (4th from left) joined other other Vietjet management and Ministry representatives at a ribbon cutting ceremony at Dal Lat Airport to celebrate the launch of services between the Vietnamese city and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi on 18 December. VietJetAir subsidiary Thai VietJet will operate the route four times weekly with A320s when referring to OAG schedules.

On hand to see off the inaugural Thomas Cook Airlines flight to Bridgetown were: Miss Barbados UK; Marc McCollin, Business Development Officer, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc; and Sharon Confue, Head of Sales UK, Thomas Cook Airlines. Passengers on the weekly service were able to sample this great-looking route launch cake.

  • Thomas Cook Airlines has added its second Caribbean route from London Gatwick (LGW), starting services to Bridgetown (BGI) in Barbados, joining its existing winter services to Holguin in Cuba. Commencing on 16 December and operating until 23 March 2018, the weekly (Saturdays) A330-200 service will face direct competition from British Airways (11 times weekly), Virgin Atlantic Airways (daily) and TUI Airways (four times weekly). It should be noted that the airline has operated this route before as a 100% cruise charter, but seats were not available to purchase for any other customers. This is first time the airline has offered seat only to Bridgetown. Sharon Confue, Head of Sales UK, Thomas Cook Airlines said: “We have a long and established relationship with Barbados and the BTMI and I am delighted that we can now offer this fantastic and beautiful destination to our customers throughout the UK, with the addition of Gatwick to our Manchester programme.” Stephen King, Head of Airline Relations, London Gatwick Airport, said: “We are delighted to help launch Thomas Cook Airlines’ new Gatwick flight to Barbados, an idyllic Caribbean island that always proves popular with UK travellers. This new service is yet another boost to Gatwick’s 60 strong long-haul network which now connects the UK to destinations across the globe.”

ViaAir Austin

Seen cutting the ribbon in Austin on 13 December, officially opening ViaAir’s new seasonal service to Hayden/Steamboat Springs are: Clint Ostler, VP Marketing & Development, Embark Aviation; Jamy Kazanoff, Assistant Director, Austin Airport; Billy Kidd, Steamboat Springs Resort and 1964 Olympic silver medalist men’s slalom; Matthew Macri, ViaAir Director of Operations; and Jennifer Shea, Steamboat Springs Resort, Director of Resort & Hotel Sales. Along with the ribbon cutting ceremony, the Texan airport also baked a cake to herald the opening of ViaAir’s latest route.

Kansas City ViaAir

Kansas City Airport produced ViaAir corporate colour-inspired cupcakes for inaugural passengers to enjoy before jetting-off to Hayden/Steamboat Springs. The airport also gave away thick woolly socks to make sure that passengers were warm when they arrived at their final destination, some 6,606 feet above sea level.

  • ViaAir commenced seasonal service to Hayden/Steamboat Springs (HDN) on 13 December, with the US regional carrier connecting the Colorado airport with Austin (AUS) and Kansas City (MCI). The airline appears to be using an Austin-based aircraft to operate both services. Flown three times weekly (Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays), flights leave Austin at 11:05, landing at Hayden/Steamboat Springs at 12:30. The aircraft then departs for Kansas City at 13:10, with a scheduled arrival time of 15:55. The return service from Kansas City has a expected departure slot of 16:40, touching down back in Hayden/Steamboat Springs at 17:30. The aircraft then heads back for Austin at 18:10, landing back into the Texan airport at 21:20. Neither city pair will face direct competition when referring to OAG schedules, with the airline using its 50-seat ERJ 145s on the 1,432- and 1,073-kilometre city pairs. Along with this new route from Austin, ViaAir has recently announced that it will begin non-stop routes from the Texan airport to Tucson and Oklahoma City starting on 18 January. Hayden/Steamboat Springs is currently the only scheduled route to be served by ViaAir from Kansas City. Both routes launched this week will operate until 1 April.  

There was a joint celebration at Ho Chi Minh City to mark VietJetAir’s new routes to Chiang Mai and Phuket, which began operating on 12 and 15 December respectively. Among those participating in the ceremonial ribbon cutting were Bui Ta Hoang Vu, Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism (third from left), and Manopchai Vongphakdi, Thailand’s Ambassador to Vietnam (fifth-left). VietJetAir presented passengers on the inaugural flight to Phuket with gifts to mark the occassion.

  • VietJetAir launched two new routes from Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) to Thailand in the space of four days this week, starting with flights to Chiang Mai (CNX) launching on 12 December, closely followed by the inaugural operation to Phuket (HKT) on 15 December. The 1,209-kilometre sector to Chiang Mai and the 962-kilometre connection to Phuket will both operate four times weekly, with the Vietnamese LCC’s A320s being utilised on both city pairs. There is currently no direct competition on either airport pair. OAG schedules show that VietJetAir will operate five different airport pairs between its home country and Thailand during W17/18. In addition to its latest routes, the carrier also flies to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi from Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Hai Phong. 

Virgin Atlantic Airways’ London Heathrow to Barbados service started this week, and in pure Bajan style, customers travelling from the UK airport were greeted by a steel band to get them in the mood for a Caribbean Christmas. The airline will be the only operator offering flights between Heathrow and Barbados, as well as opening up the Caribbean to customers around the UK thanks to its codeshare partnership with Flybe.  

  • Virgin Atlantic Airways launched direct flights between London Heathrow (LHR) and Bridgetown (BGI) in Barbados on 12 December. It is the fifth new service to be launched by the airline in 2017, alongside Seattle-Tacoma, replacing Delta Air Lines’ service from Heathrow, plus its recent expansion at Manchester. The route will operate twice-weekly (Tuesdays and Saturdays) using the carrier’s 264-seat A330-300s, with no other airline flying the sector. This new service means that Virgin Atlantic now offers up to 11 Barbados flights per week from the three UK airports of London Gatwick, Manchester and now Heathrow. Shai Weiss, the airline’s CCO commented: “The Caribbean has always been a core market for Virgin Atlantic and we’re excited to be offering more choice to our customers with the option of flying from Heathrow, Gatwick or Manchester direct to Barbados.”

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at San Jose Airport on 15 December to mark the arrival of Volaris’ inaugural service from Morelia. John Aitken, Director of Aviation, San Jose Airport (second-left) was among those in attendance to welcome the first flight. The 2,805-kilometre airport pair will be operated twice-weekly using A320s.

Several days later on 18 December, San Jose welcomed another new Mexican connection from Volaris, with the arrival of the inaugural service from Zacatecas. John Aitken (second-left), was again present to take part in the ceremonial ribbon cutting. This sector will also operate twice-weekly, this time on A319s.

  • Volaris has introduced three new links between Mexico and California during the past week with flights from Morelia (MLM) to San Jose (SJC) and Fresno (FAT) beginning on 15 and 16 December respectively, followed by the launch of services from Zacatecas (ZCL) to San Jose on 18 December. All three routes will be flown twice-weekly, with the 2,805-kilometre Morelia–San Jose sector operating on Fridays and Sundays and the 2,612-kilometre Morelia–Fresno airport pair operating on Mondays and Saturdays. The 2,440-kilometre Zacatecas–San Jose route will be flown on Mondays and Thursdays. Volaris will operate A320s on the two routes from Morelia and A319s on the new Zacatecas link. There is no direct competition on any of the three airport pairs. Miguel Aguiñiga, Director of Market Development at Volaris spoke about the airline’s new routes to San Jose in the week before they were launched. “These new direct flights into San Jose, from the Mexican cities of Morelia and Zacatecas, further expand the number of travel options for our VFR audience, as well as those who travel for business and vacation.” John Aitken, Director of Aviation, San Jose Airport, commented: “We’re excited about Volaris’ growth here at San Jose and we’re especially happy that we’ll be able to offer non-stop service to two more cities in Mexico that were previously unserved.”  

Among those posing for an obligatory photo on the apron, for the launch of Wizz Air’s new service between Debrecen and Moscow Vnukovo, were: (second-left) István Herdon, President and CEO of Debrecen Airport; (third-left) László Tamás, Deputy Director, Debrecen Airport; (second-right) and Diána Széles, Debrecen Deputy Mayor.

At the other end of the route, a celebration was held on the tarmac of Moscow Vnukovo. The Russian airport also held a cake and ribbon cutting ceremony, with the proceedings being conducted by Vasily Yakovlevich Alexandrov, General Director, Moscow Vnukovo, and János Balla, Ambassador of Hungary in Russia.

  • Wizz Air has introduced four new routes to its network this week, just in time for the Christmas season, including two links from its home base of Budapest (BUD) to Berlin Schönefeld (SXF) and Frankfurt (FRA) respectively. These are the only two routes that will face direct competition. They are also the only sectors to see a daily rotation, with the links between Gdansk (GDN) and Tromsø (TOS), plus Debrecen (DEB) and Moscow Vnukovo (VKO), seeing a twice-weekly frequency. The average sector length of the four routes is 1,155 kilometres.  
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
15-Dec Budapest (BUD) Frankfurt (FRA) A321 (7) Lufthansa (35)
16-Dec Gdansk (GDN) Tromsø (TOS) A320 (2)  
18-Dec Budapest (BUD) Berlin Schönefeld (SXF) A320 (7) easyJet (8), Ryanair (7)
Debrecen (DEB) Moscow Vnukovo (VKO) A320 (2)  
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser data for w/c 19 December 2017. WF = Weekly Frequency.

Celebrations were held at Melbourne Airport on 17 December to welcome the inaugural Xiamen Airlines flight from Hangzhou, which departed China the previous evening. Among those cutting the ceremonial ribbon to mark Melbourne’s latest connection to mainland China were Lyell Strambi (centre), MD and CEO Melbourne Airport. The 7,958-kilometre sector will operate twice-weekly (Thursdays and Sundays).

  • Xiamen Airlines launched a direct connection between Hangzhou (HGH) and Melbourne (MEL) on 16 December. The 7,958-kilometre sector will be flown by the carrier twice-weekly, departing Hangzhou on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with return services leaving Melbourne on Thursdays and Sundays. Xiamen Airlines will operate the route with its 787-8s, with no direct competition being provided. The new service originates and terminates in Xiamen, operating via Hangzhou in each direction. The carrier already offers a direct three times weekly connection between Xiamen and Melbourne, with the Hangzhou link becoming the fourth airport pair it will operate between mainland China and Australia during W17/18, with the others being Xiamen–Sydney and Fuzhou–Sydney. Xiamen Airlines’ Hangzhou services will be Melbourne Airport’s 12th destination in mainland China. “We are delighted with Xiamen Airlines’ decision to expand into Hangzhou, the city that’s home to internet giant Alibaba and where third-party mobile and online payment system Alipay was established,” said Simon Gandy, Chief of Aviation, Melbourne Airport. “The region is viewed as one of China’s most prominent tech hubs, and last year was host city to the G20 summit.” Gandy also emphasised the growth in Chinese tourism that Melbourne has witnessed. “Over the past three years we’ve seen China take the lead as our largest international tourism market and, further, over the past ten years passenger traffic from China has increased, on average, by just under 16% each year.”


  1. Zhanlu says:

    The excel is for the route of last week, not this week.

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