New airline routes launched (6 February 2018 – 12 February 2018)

interCaribbean Airways Tortola to St. Maarten 

interCaribbean Airways started services between Tortola and St.Maarten on 9 February. It will initially operate the route five times weekly, before increasing to twice-daily from 22 March.

  • interCaribbean Airways started services between Tortola (EIS) in the British Virgin Islands and St. Maarten (SXM) on 9 February. It will initially operate the 156-kilometre sector five times weekly, with the intention to increase to twice-daily from 22 March. According to an interCaribbean press release, the start date for the service was brought forward from 22 March “in response to the challenges of travel to and from Santo Domingo following recent air service interruptions.” The carrier says that passengers travelling from St. Maarten will have the option of onward connections from Tortola to Santo Domingo, San Juan and Antigua. Initial services appear to have been operated with DHC 6 Twin Otters according to Flightradar24, however OAG schedules indicate the flights will be flown by EMB 120s in the near future. OAG data also show two other carriers are operating between Tortola and St. Maarten, with Air Sunshine and Winair scheduled to provide 14 and eight frequencies respectively during the week commencing 13 February. From the available Flightradar24 data it is not clear if these competing services are currently operating. St. Maarten Airport suffered severe damage in the wake of hurricane Irma last year, causing subsequent disruption to air services.

Norwegian Rome Fiumicino to Oakland

Federico Scriboni, Head of Airline Traffic Development and Marco Gobbi, Route Manager ‒ Long Haul & Cargo at AdR were on hand to check the quality of the route launch cake for Norwegian’s new service to Oakland. On 10 April, non-stop service to Paris begins, marking Norwegian’s seventh European route at Oakland.

There were also celebrations at the Oakland end, with special plane-shaped biscuits baked for the occasion and iced with an Italian livery. Flights on the10,034-kilometre airport pair operate twice-weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays with 787-8s and face no direct competition. 

  • Norwegian started its sixth non-stop route into Oakland (OAK), beginning a twice-weekly operation (Tuesdays and Fridays) from Rome Fiumicino (FCO) on 6 February. The 10,034-kilometre sector joins the LCC’s existing European flights to the Bay Area airport ‒ Barcelona, Copenhagen, London Gatwick, Oslo Gardermoen and Stockholm Arlanda. Operated by Norwegian’s 787-8s, the route becomes the first non-stop Bay Area service to Rome since 2001. “We offer more European routes out of the Bay Area than any other airline and we are excited to be the only airline with non-stop service to Rome, one of the world’s greatest tourist destinations,” said Thomas Ramdahl, Norwegian’s CCO. “We’re especially delighted to welcome this non-stop flight connecting Rome to Oakland and the rest of the beautiful San Francisco Bay region,” said Bryant L. Francis, Director of Aviation for the Port of Oakland. There are no other carriers operating this airport pair.

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


Flybondi CEO Julian Cook speaks to the first passengers after boarding for the return service from Buenos Aires El Palomar to Cordoba on 9 February, marking the start of commercial services from the Argentinian capital airport. The airline plans to the serve the 635-kilometre sector twice-daily on its fleet of 737-800s.

  • Flybondi commenced operations between Cordoba (COR) and Buenos Aires El Palomar (EPA) on 9 February, the first time that an airline has flown from the latter airport, which is situated some 18 kilometres west of the capital’s centre and is currently used as a military base for the Argentine Air Force. The recently launched Argentinean LCC plans to serve the 635-kilometre link between Cordoba and El Palomar up to twice-daily using its fleet of 737-800s. Although no direct competition is provided on the airport pair, in terms of the city connection, Aerolineas Argentinas flies between Cordoba and Buenos Aires Aeroparque 49 times weekly, LATAM Airlines serves the latter airport pair 16 times weekly, while Andes Lineas Aereas operates 11 weekly rotations. Aerolineas Argentinas also links Cordoba to Buenos Aires Ezeiza three times daily. See how Buenos Aires El Palomar Airport’s FTWA compares with other from around the world.

There were celebrations at Singapore Airport on 9 February to mark the launch of Indonesia AirAsia services from Medan and Padang. Logan Velaitham, AirAsia Singapore CEO, Rifai Taberi, Indonesia AirAsia Commercial Director and Sulaiman Sidek, Singapore Country Manager, Ministry of Tourism, Republic of Indonesia, were joined by traditional Indonesian dancers to mark the occasion. Daily flights will be operated on both airport pairs.

  • Indonesia AirAsia added two new Singapore (SIN) services from Medan (KNO) and Padang (PDG) on 9 February. The 621-kilometre Medan link and the 472-kilometre Padang connection will both be served with daily flights operated by A320s. The LCC faces incumbent competition on the Medan-Singapore airport pair which is already served by SilkAir with double-daily flights, Jetstar Asia, which has 12 weekly frequencies, and Garuda Indonesia which operates daily flights. However there is no direct competition on the Padang route. AirAsia Singapore CEO Logan Velaitham said: “The inaugural flights to Padang and Medan emphasise our commitment to expand Singapore’s network as one of AirAsia’s hubs by linking up to new cities in Indonesia. In 2017, AirAsia Group carried a total of 4.3 million passengers to and from Singapore, an increase of 1.8% from the previous year.”

Gifts were exchanged to mark the start of Qatar Airways’ new service to Penang, its second route to Malaysia, on 6 February, with Qatar Airways’ CCO Ehab Amin (centre) accepting the gift from Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng (right). The three times weekly service from Doha will be expanded to four times weekly from 1 July.

Qatar Airways flight QR906 departed Doha on Sunday 11 February at 07:55, and arrived at Canberra Airport at 08:35 on Monday morning on its first flight linking the capital cities. Commenting on the launch, the airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker said: “Qatar Airways is delighted to be expanding its reach in Australia by launching our fifth gateway into this beautiful country. In 2016, we launched flights to Sydney and Adelaide, clearly demonstrating our commitment to the people of Australia. We are extremely happy to be offering our loyal Australian passengers the chance to explore the newest and most exciting destinations we have added to our global network in the past year, including many European cities such as Dublin, Kiev, Prague and St. Petersburg. We are also confident that Australian travellers will be as excited as we are about our many upcoming new destinations set to launch this year, including Cardiff, Malaga and Mykonos.”

  • Qatar Airways commenced flights to Penang (PEN) on 6 February, its second destination in Malaysia, as it continues its robust expansion plans in Southeast Asia. The three times weekly service from its Doha (DOH) hub will be flown by the oneworld carrier’s 254-seat 787-8 fleet. Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are delighted to launch direct flights to Penang, a long-anticipated addition to our global route network. Our Kuala Lumpur service started in 2001, and it has since grown to a triple-daily direct non-stop service. The addition of Penang to our global network comes as part of our continued expansion plans in Southeast Asia, as we have recently launched direct services to Thailand’s Chiang Mai and Pattaya, as well as adding extra services to Krabi, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.” MD of Malaysia Airports, Datuk Badlisham Ghazali, said: “With the current triple-daily frequencies to Kuala Lumpur catering to the many passengers travelling to destinations in North America and Europe, we believe that the same demand for these destinations from Penang is growing rapidly. As one of the busiest airports in Malaysia, Penang recorded seven million passenger movements last year.” At a press conference held after the inaugural flight arrival, Qatar Airways CCO  Ehab Amin, announced the new route will be boosted to a four times weekly frequency from 1 July. No other carriers operate this city and neither of Qatar Airways’ fellow MEB3 carriers Emirates or Etihad Airways flies to Penang either. On 11 February, the oneworld carrier also added a daily 777-300 service from its home hub to Canberra (CBR), its fifth destination in Australia. The flights operate via Sydney, which as a result of this expansion now increases to a double-daily service. There is no competition on the 12,604-kilometre sector to the Australian capital city, and it should be noted that Qatar Airways does not have permission to sell seats on the Sydney-Canberra leg. See how Canberra and Penang airports’ FTWAs compare with other from around the world. 

SalamAir Multan

Ali Javed Pakistan Ambassador in Oman (centre left) and Captain Mohamed Ahmed, CEO of SalamAir (centre right) led the cake cutting to mark the start of the LCC’s newest route to Pakistan ‒ Multan. On its two existing routes to the country, Karachi and Sailkot, the airline has already flown over 30,000 passengers.

  • SalamAir, Oman’s first budget airline, inaugurated its three weekly service to Multan (MUX) on 8 February, the LCC’s third destination in Pakistan, complementing its current flights to Karachi and Sialkot. The A320-operated services depart at 23:55 from Muscat (MCT) on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, arriving into Multan at 03:30 the next day. The return sector leaves Pakistan at 04:50 on Wednesdays, Fridays and Mondays, landing back in Oman at 06:35. Captain Mohamed Ahmed, CEO of SalamAir, said of the airline’s newest route: “The addition of Multan to our destinations will allow us to better serve our guests, and cater to rising number of business and leisure travelers. The Pakistani community makes up about 13% of the local expatriates working in Oman, it is therefore no surprise that this route has been one of the highest in demand. We have worked very hard with the authorities to ensure that our flight timings will allow our guests to conveniently connect to other destinations including Dubai, Doha, Jeddah and Salalah via Muscat.” The CEO went on to explain that SalamAir is exploring other underserved destinations in Pakistan including Islamabad, Lahore and Faisalabad, as well as increasing its flight frequencies on current routes. Competition on SalamAir’s route between Muscat and Multan will face direct competition from Shaheen Air International, with the latter airline already serving the 1,493-kilometre sector with a weekly (Fridays) service.

VLM Airlines Munich

VLM Airlines launched its latest routes from Antwerp on 12 February, a link to Munich with onward service to Maribor. The carrier will operate the routing every weekday using its fleet of Fokker 50s.

  • VLM Airlines launched its latest services from Antwerp (ANR) this week, starting a weekday service to Munich (MUC) with an onward connection to Maribor (MBX). Launched on 12 February, flights on the 612-kilometre leg between Antwerp and Munich depart from the Belgian city at 10:10, landing into the German hub at 12:15. The onward 359-kilometre link from the Bavarian hub to Slovenia takes off at 12:45, getting into Maribor at approximately 14:20. Return flights see an afternoon rotation depart at 14:50 from Maribor, with an estimated arrival time into Munich of 16:30. The final sector then leaves the German airport at 17:00, finally reaching Antwerp at 19:10. VLM will not face any direct competition on either of its latest services, with these becoming routes three and four for the carrier which already serves London City and Zurich from its home base. The next planned route launch for the airline is 26 March, the day it will begin serving Birmingham. On the same day, the airline will also increase its Munich service to a twice-daily weekday rotation. 


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