New airline routes launched (19 December 2017 – 1 January 2018)

Qatar Airways Doha to St. Petersburg 

Taking part in the press conference in St. Petersburg, held for Qatar Airways’ first service from Doha, were: Nazir Abduvakhidov, Senior Manager Eastern Europe, Qatar Airways; Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, Qatar Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Russia;  H.E Akbar Al Baker, GCEO Qatar Airways; and Vladimir Yakushev, CEO of St. Petersburg Airport. Along with the press conference, Al Baker was welcomed to the city by Georgy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg. The oneworld member will operate a daily service on its latest sector using its A320s.

  • Qatar Airways commenced its first flight from Doha (DOH) to St. Petersburg (LED) on 19 December, becoming the airline’s second gateway in Russia after Moscow Domodedovo. Inaugural flight QR279 was operated by one of the oneworld carrier’s 787-8s, but the route will be flown on a regular basis by its 132-seat A320 fleet. The airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker said: “I am delighted to touch down today on board our first commercial flight to St. Petersburg. Following the great success of our Moscow route, we are extremely happy to extend our reach into Russia. By launching this new route, we are committing to further supporting the Russian market, and providing inbound and outbound passengers a seamless journey through the skies.” Pulkovo Airport CEO Vladimir Yakushev, said: “The launch of Qatar Airways’ service from Doha to St. Petersburg Airport represents new extraordinary possibilities for the city’s business and leisure travel market. With the exquisite product offered by the airline, St. Petersburg will receive a boost of both inbound and outbound tourism once connected to Qatar Airways’ worldwide route network via one of the most vibrant global air hubs in Doha.” The launch of this daily direct service to Russia’s cultural capital will increase the airline’s number of weekly flights into the country to 28. Already operating to Moscow since 2003, Qatar Airways recently increased its service to the city from twice-daily to three times daily. 

Hainan Airlines Shenzhen to Cairns

There were celebrations at Cairns Airport on 20 December to mark the arrival of Hainan Airlines’ inaugural flight from Shenzhen, which had departed China the previous evening. A larger than life Kuala Bear gave the welcoming committee a distinctly Australian feel. A cake was also baked to mark the occasion.

  • Hainan Airlines began services between Shenzhen (SZX) and Cairns (CNS) on 19 December. The carrier will operate twice-weekly (Tuesdays and Saturdays) to the airport in Northern Queensland which markets itself as ‘Connecting the world with the Great Barrier Reef’. Hainan will deploy A330-200s on the 5,596-kilometre sector and faces no direct competition on the route, which is its first connection to Cairns. The link from Shenzhen is the second Chinese service to be added to Cairns’ route network this month, with China Southern Airlines commencing three times weekly flights from Guangzhou on 4 December.

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

Dignitaries assembled to herald the start of Air Europa’s third route from Madrid to Brazil, a twice-weekly service to Recife. They were: Rafael de Meyo, Minister-Counselor, Brazilian Embassy in Madrid; Caroline Tensi, Responsible for Connectivity, Madrid Destino; Juan José Hidalgo, President of Globalia; Geraldo Julio, Mayor of Recife; Felipe Carreras, Secretary of Tourism, Sports and Leisure of Pernambuco; and Elena Mayoral, MD Madrid Airport. A special cake was also baked to mark the ocassion.

  • Air Europa has added its third non-stop route to Brazil this week, commencing a twice-weekly (Wednesdays and Fridays) sector to Recife (REC) from its Madrid (MAD) hub. The A330-200-operated service joins the SkyTeam carrier’s existing flights to the South American country, a daily route to Sao Paulo Guarulhos and a three times weekly sector to Salvador de Bahia. Commenced on 20 December, the 6,283-kilometre city pair faces no direct competition.

A welcoming committee was present at Kuching Airport for the inaugural AirAsia flight to Shenzen. Among those attending the event were: Mary Wan Mering, acting CEO of Sarawak Tourism Board; YB Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak; Zhang Yang, Deputy Consul General, The Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Kuching; and Datuk Haji Abdul Wahab Bin Aziz, Chairman of Sarawak Tourism Board. 

A welcoming ceremony was also held at Bintulu Airport to greet the arrival of AirAsia’s first flight from Singapore. Attending the event were: Desmond Douglas Jerukan, Principal Assistant Secretary Planning and Development Section, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak; Spencer Lee, Head of Commercial, AirAsia; YB Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak; Datuk Haji Abdul Wahab Bin Aziz, Chairman of Sarawak Tourism Board; YB Dato’ Seri Tiong King Sing, Bintulu MP; and Zamani Bin Mohd Rafique, Director of Government Relations, AirAsia.

  • AirAsia launched three new routes from Malaysia in late 2017, beginning with services from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Davao (DVO) on 21 December, followed by the start of flights between Kuching (KCH) and Shenzhen (SZX) on 26 December, with a final service from Bintulu (BTU) to Singapore being inaugurated on 27 December. The 2,692-kilometre Kuala Lumpur–Davao route and the 1,022-kilometre Bintulu–Singapore sector will both be flown four times weekly, while the 2,380-kilometre Kuching–Shenzhen city pair will be operated daily. The Malaysian-based LCC will deploy A320s on all three airport pairs and will face no direct competition on any of the new routes. On 27 December, Spencer Lee, AirAsia’s Head of Commercial, marked the arrival of its two new international services from Shenzhen and Singapore into the Sarawak state, where Kuching and Bintulu are located. “We are honoured and humbled to welcome two new international flights into Sarawak today,” said Lee. “AirAsia has always been committed towards expanding the markets in Sarawak and these direct flights reiterate our commitment to grow the connectivity in and out of the state.”

Sochi/Adler Airport welcomed the arrival of Azimuth Airline’s inaugural flight from Rostov-on-Don on 22 December with a traditional water arch salute. The carrier will operate the 447-kilometre route five times weekly with Sukhoi Superjet 100s.’s New Routes Database indicates that this is the ninth route launched by the airline in 2017, with all of them being Russian domestic services.

  • Azimuth Airline began operating between Rostov-on-Don (ROV) and Sochi/Adler (AER) on 22 December. According to data from, the airline flew the 447-kilometre sector three times during the first week of operation, which corresponded with the Christmas holidays. OAG schedules show that from the week commencing 2 January the service will operate five times weekly. During the Christmas period Azimuth Airline faced direct competition from Utair on this airport pair, with the latter carrier operating three flights during the week commencing 2 January. OAG Schedules Analyser and do not show any direct scheduled services by Utair after 8 January, indicating that the carrier may be dropping the airport pair from its network. Azimuth Airline deploys its Sukhoi Superjet 100s between Rostov-on-Don and Sochi/Adler. According to’s New Routes Database, this route is Azimuth Airline’s seventh new domestic connection from Rostov-on-Don that launched in 2017 and its ninth new route overall for last year.

Tampa Airport marked its final new route launch of 2017 on 22 December, when it celebrated Delta Air Lines’ inaugural flight to Salt Lake City. Joining the celebrations Kenneth Strickland, Director of Air Service Development, Tampa Airport and Helda Durham, Station Manager, Delta Air Lines, with both seen here posing next to this impressive ski-themed route launch cake.

  • Delta Air Lines launched 10 routes just before Christmas, with seven commencing on 21 December and a further three starting two days latter on 23 December. The shortest of the 10 sectors is the 771-kilometre Orlando (MCO) to Birmingham (BHM) route, while the longest is the 7,723-kilometre New York JFK (JFK) to Rio de Janiero Galaeo (GIG) airport pair. The average sector length of new airport pairs is 3,606 kilometres. The weekly frequencies for some of the Delta operations shown in the below table are for their first week of operation. OAG Schedules Analyser data suggests that some of these new routes began for the Christmas period and will resume once again at the end of February.
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition (WF)
21-Dec Las Vegas (LAS) Honolulu (HNL) B752 (7) Hawaiian Airlines (18)
New York JFK (JFK) Rio de Janiero Galaeo (GIG) B764 (6) American Airlines (7)
Orlando (MCO) Birmingham (BHM) CRJ7 (6) Southwest Airlines (19)
Salt Lake City (SLC) Kahului (OGG) B763 (6)  
Milwaukee (MKE) CRJ9 (7)  
Tampa (TPA) B738 (7)  
Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) Lihue (LIH) B752 (7) Alaska Airlines (14)
23-Dec Boston (BOS) Miami (MIA) A319 (1) American Airlines (49)
Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) Aruba (AUA) B738 (1) Sun Country Airlines (1)
New York JFK (JFK) St. Kitts (SKB) B757 (1) American Airlines (1)
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser. Competition WF based on w/c 2 Jan 2018. 

A lamp lighting ceremony was held at Hyderabad Airport on 21 December to celebrate the launch of IndiGo ATR 72-600 operations. The carrier used its new turboprop to launch services between Hyderabad and Mangalore. It will also deploy the aircraft type on its new services from Chennai to Mangalore and from Hyderabad to Nagpur. The four other routes launched by IndiGo in late December are operated by A320s.

  • IndiGo began services on seven new routes in late December, including four new links from Hyderabad (HYD). On 21 December the carrier commenced flights from Chennai (MAA) to Mangalore (IXE), from Kochi (COK) to Doha (DOH), and from Hyderabad to Doha, Mangalore and Nagpur (NAG). On 29 December the Indian airline also launched services to Sharjah (SHJ) from both Hyderabad and Lucknow (LKO). All of the new routes will be operated with daily frequencies, and IndiGo faces direct competition from incumbent carriers on four of the airport pairs. The sector lengths vary from 435 kilometres to 3,106 kilometres, with an average sector length of 1,813 kilometres. The Hyderabad-Managlore route became the first to be operated by the carrier’s new ATR 72-600s.
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition (WF)
21-Dec Chennai (MAA) Mangalore (IXE) ATR7 (7)  
Hyderabad (HYD) Doha (DOH) A320 (7) Qatar Airways (7)
Mangalore (IXE) ATR7 (7) SpiceJet (7)
Nagpur (NAG) ATR7 (7)  
Kochi (COK) Doha (DOH) A320 (7) Qatar Airways (11), Jet Airways (7), Air India Express (4)
29-Dec Hyderabad (HYD) Sharjah (SHJ) A320 (7) Air Arabia (7)
Lucknow (LKO) A320 (7)  
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 2 January 2018. WF = Weekly frequencies.

Greeting passengers at Singapore Airport for the inaugural Scoot service to Honolulu were Nicholas and Pauline, Hawaiian performers; Kalani L. H. Kaʻanāʻanā, Hawaii Tourism Authority’s Director of Hawaiian Cultural Affairs; Lee Lik Hsin, CEO, Scoot; Kimokeo Kapahulehua, Hawaiian cultural practitioner; and Pedro A. Gambarina, US Department of Homeland Security, US Embassy Singapore’s International Industry Representative. Passengers at the gatehold room in Singapore were also greeted with a traditional hula dance. There were also celebrations in Honolulu to welcome the first arriving flight.

  • Scoot commenced operations from Singapore (SIN) to Honolulu (HNL) via Osaka Kansai (KIX) on 19 December. The four times weekly service to the Hawaiian hub was launched in tandem with the LCC’s first direct connection between Singapore and Osaka, which operates at the same weekly frequency. Seats can be booked in both directions between Singapore and Osaka, and between the Japanese airport and Honolulu, as well as on the full itinerary between Singapore and Hawaii. “We are excited about entering the US market with a destination as special as Hawaii,” said Lee Lik Hsin, CEO of Scoot. “We look forward to connecting our two communities which are both known for their rich multi-cultural heritage. We are confident that travellers from Singapore and the region are eager to visit Hawaii as a world-famous vacation destination.” The service between Singapore and Honolulu via Osaka covers a total distance of 11,510 kilometres and OAG schedules show that there are no other carriers offering direct competition between these airports. However, there is direct competition on the 4,899-kilometre connection between Singapore and Osaka which is operated twice-daily by Singapore Airlines, and on the 6,611-kilometre Osaka–Honolulu airport pair, which is already flown by Japan Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines and AirAsia X. Scoot operates 787-8s on all sectors between Singapore and Honolulu.

Phnom Penh Airport welcomed the arrival of Shenzhen Airlines’ inaugural service from Shenzhen on 20 December. The carrier will offer daily flights on the 1,556-kilometre airport pair and faces incumbent competition in the form of China Southern Airlines and Spring Airlines, which also provide daily flights. All three carriers operate A320s on this route.

  • Shenzhen Airlines commenced operations on a new service from Shenzhen (SZX) to Phnom Penh (PNH) on 20 December. The 1,556-kilometre route will be operated daily with A320s. Shenzhen faces direct competition from two other Chinese carriers on this sector. OAG schedules show that China Southern Airlines and Spring Airlines will also operate daily frequencies on the route during the week commencing 2 January 2018, with both carriers also using A320s. According to Cambodia Airports, Shenzhen becomes the seventh Chinese carrier to serve Phnom Penh, with four Cambodian airlines also operating to and from China. Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism is aiming to welcome two million Chinese visitors per year by 2020. Éric Delobel, CEO of Cambodia Airports, the company developing and operating Cambodia’s network of international airports, discussed connectivity to and from China. “It has been a market that has gained prominence with developing inbound and outbound traffic. Most of China’s major cities have established air links with our airports and that has benefited passengers, as they have a full array of travel options with more destinations, airlines, and frequencies.” 

Auckland Airport welcomed Tianjin’s first direct service from Xi’an on 30 December with a water arch salute. The 10,664-kilometre airport pair will operate weekly (Saturdays) on A330-200s. The service, which originates in Tianjin, is the airline’s second route to Auckland from China after Chongqing, a route that also originates in Tianjin.

  • Tianjin Airlines began direct flights between Xi’an (XIY) and Auckland (AKL) on 30 December. The 10,466-kilometre sector will operate weekly (Saturdays) by A330-200s facing no direct competition. The service, which originates in Tianjin, is the airline’s second non-stop link from China to Auckland. The carrier already operates to New Zealand’s largest city twice-weekly from Chongqing, a service that also originates from Tianjin. OAG schedules for the week commencing 2 January show that the service from Tianjin to Auckland via Xi’an takes 16 hours and 35 minutes, one hour less than the existing route via Chongqing. The link that was inaugurated just before the New Year is currently scheduled to operate up until 17 March.

Ukraine International Airlines Krakow

Ukraine International Airlines commenced flights to Krakow on 26 December, the airline’s second destination in Poland after Warsaw Chopin. Initially launched six times weekly, the route will operate daily from 8 January on ERJ 145s. The airport pair was last served in November 2011 by Aerosvit Airlines which ceased operations in 2013.

  • Ukraine International Airlines commenced flights to its second destination in Poland after Warsaw Chopin on 26 December, a 789-kilometre link between Kiev Boryspil (KBP) and Krakow (KRK). Initially launched as a six times weekly service, the route will increase to a daily rotation from 8 January. The carrier will operate the route using ERJ 145s which are operated by Dniproavia. There is no direct competition on the airport pair, with the route having last been flown in November 2011 by Aerosvit Airlines, a carrier which ceased operations in early 2013.

Seen cutting the ribbon and officially opening Wizz Air’s new service between Gdansk and Vilnius is Olaf Martens, Director of Vilnius Airport. A cake was also made to mark the occasion. Wizz Air will operate the route three times weekly on its fleet of A320s, with this becoming the only link between Gdansk and the capital of Lithuania.

  • Wizz Air has expanded its route offering from Gdansk (GDN) by opening two European capital connections to Lisbon (LIS) and Vilnius (VNO). The first route to launch was the 441-kilometre connection to Lithuania which began on 21 December. The ULCC will offer a three times weekly rotation to Vilnius from Gdansk. Flights to the Portuguese capital commenced two days later, with the 2,697-kilometre city pair being operated twice-weekly (Tuesdays and Saturdays). Both routes will be flown using the airline’s fleet of A320s and neither will face direct competition. Last year Wizz Air operated 2.47 million seats to/from Gdansk, an upswing of 7.9% when compared to the number of seats it offered in 2016. 


  1. Kelvin Lawrence says:

    The spreadsheet seems to be the wrong one – looks like the Dec 18th one

  2. Chris says:

    The cake of the week route should also take the creepy looking mascot award as well. That is the most frightful looking koala I’ve ever seen, real or artificial. Or is it unattractive because it’s really a “Kuala” bear as stated in the article. I would have thought those would only be found in Malaysia.

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