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

Lanmei Airlines Phonm Penh to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi 

There were celebrations at Phonm Penh Airport on 7 March to mark the first flight by Lanmei Airlines on the 504-kilometre sector to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi. The Cambodian carrier will initially offer four weekly flights on this route before upping the frequency to daily services at the start of S18. It faces direct competition on the route from Bangkok Airways, Thai Airways and THAI Smile.

  • Lanmei Airlines commenced services on a new route from Phonm Penh (PNH) to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) on 7 March. The 504-kilometre sector will initially be operated with four weekly flights before the frequency increases to daily from the beginning of S18. The airport pair will be served by the Cambodian carrier’s A321s. There is significant incumbent competition with Bangkok Airways, Thai Airways and THAI Smile scheduled to operate 42, 14 and four flights on this route respectively during the week commencing 13 March. This is Lanmei Airlines’ first link to Thailand. 

Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa to Buenos Aires Ezeiza 

Ethiopian Airlines Argentina

Among those toasting Ethiopian Airlines’ new service to Buenos Aires Ezeiza are: Ethiopia’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs, H.E. Dr. Aklilu Hailemichael; Gustavo Teodoro Grippo, Argentinian Ambassador to Ethiopia; Olympic Champion and Ethiopian Brand Ambassador, Tirunesh Dibaba; Ambassador Birtukan Ayanow, American Affairs Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam; Athlete Genzebe Dibaba; and Rahel Assefa, VP Marketing, Ethiopian Airlines. The carrier will link to Ezeiza five times weekly.

  • Ethiopian Airlines commenced operations to Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) on 8 March, with the Star Alliance member starting a five times weekly service from Addis Ababa (ADD), with the 11,246-kilometre city pair operating via the carrier’s existing Sao Paulo Guarulhos service. Commenting on the launch, Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebremariam, said of the new service: “We are glad to add Buenos Aires, the sixth gateway to the Americas for the airline, to our extensive global network. Our new flight to Buenos Aires will provide efficient connections to our network in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, including Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo, Mumbai, Delhi, Dubai, Beirut, Nairobi, and Cairo. We are all the more happy that the flight launched on 8 March – International Women’s Day. To mark this important occasion, and as part of our commitment of mainstreaming gender into our core business, we have made the inaugural rotation an all-women-operated flight.” As mentioned by Gebremariam, this is now Ethiopian Airlines’ sixth destination in the Americas, with it also operating to Sao Paulo in the South, as well as Washington Dulles, New York Newark, Los Angeles and Toronto Pearson in the North. The route to Buenos Aires, which will be flown using 787-8s, will not face direct competition. 

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

Aeromar introduced two new domestic services to it Guadalajara network on 9 March, beginning twice-weekly flights to Acapuloc and Zihuatanejo. The 560-kilometre Acapulco sector and 377-kilometre Zihuatanejo route will be operated by ATR 72-600s on Fridays and Sundays. 

  • Aeromar began operations on two new domestic services from Guadalajara (GDL) on 9 March, with inaugural flights taking off to Acapulco (ACA) and Zihuatanejo (ZIH). The 560-kilometre Acapulco sector and the 377-kilometre Zihuatanejo link will both be operated twice-weekly with ATR 72-600s, with flights operating on Fridays and Sundays on each airport pair. Aeromar faces no direct competition on either route. OAG schedules show that the airline already operates flights from Guadalajara to Mexico City, Puebla and Puerto Vallarta.

Frontier Airlines El Paso

Frontier Airlines commenced flights to El Paso on 9 March, initially with a four times weekly service from Denver. To celebrate, the Texas airport had a small table filled with giveaways for the first passengers, with the facility also taking the chance to promote the airline’s link to Chicago O’Hare that will begin on 8 April.

  • Frontier Airlines added El Paso (ELP) to its network on 9 March, starting flights from Denver (DEN). The 908-kilometre sector will be flown by the ULCC four times weekly, with A320s scheduled to operate the city pair. Direct competition comes from Star Alliance member United Airlines which itself already offers 27 weekly services between the two cities. Frontier Airlines will add another link to El Paso from next month, with it poised to open a service from Chicago O’Hare starting 8 April.

Iran Air’s new 224-kilometre domestic sector from Bandar Abbas was welcomed upon its arrival in Jask on 7 March with this water arch. The link between the two coastal towns will be flown twice-weekly by the airline’s ATR 72 fleet, with the route not expected to face any direct competition.

  • Iran Air has initiated a new domestic route this week. Started on 7 March, the airline began a twice-weekly (Wednesdays and Sundays) service linking Bandar Abbas (BND) and Jask (JSK). The carrier will utilise its ATR 72 fleet on the 224-kilometre sector. According OAG schedules, this will become the airline’s 11th domestic route from Bandar Abbas, but its first to Jask. The route does not face any direct competition.

Passengers on the inaugrual flight between New York JFK and Atlanta were greeted with a warm welcome as they touched down at the world’s busiest airport, with those travelling on the first return service being treated to airline-branded cupcakes. The carrier will operate the route twice-daily.

  • JetBlue Airways has expanded its presence at Atlanta (ATL) this week, starting services to the world’s busiest airport from New York JFK (JFK), Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Orlando (MCO). The US airline returned to Atlanta on 30 March last year after a 13-year absence, with it connecting the Georgian hub to Boston. With the launch of JFK (to be flown twice-daily), Fort Lauderdale (twice-daily) and Orlando (daily), all of which launched on 8 March, it brings to four the number of routes that JetBlue now offers from Atlanta. Of course none of these city pairs are exclusive to JetBlue, with heavy competition expected on all sectors. The 1,220-kilometre link to JFK will go head-to-head with Delta Air Lines (48 times weekly). The 935-kilometre route to Fort Lauderdale also faces Delta (102 times weekly), but also competes alongside Southwest Airlines (36) and Spirit Airlines (three times daily) as well. However, the most severe rivalry will occur on the 650-kilometre leg to Orlando, where Delta (116), Southwest (43), Spirit (twice-daily) and Frontier Airlines (daily) combined offer 180 weekly rotations. JetBlue will operate its three new routes to Atlanta on its 150-seat A320s.

LOT Polish Airlines

LOT Polish Airlines commenced flights between Rzeszow and Tel Aviv on 11 March. The first inbound service from Israel was operated by the 737-800 registered SP-LWC, seen parked here at the gate at Rzeszow after receiving a water arch salute. The carrier will operate the 2,274-kilometre link weekly on its 737-800s.

  • LOT Polish Airlines commenced a weekly service between Rzeszow (RZE) and Tel Aviv (TLV) on 11 March, with the 737-800-operated service being flown on a Warsaw Chopin-based aircraft, routing Chopin–Tel Aviv–Rzeszow–Tel Aviv–Chopin. The 2,274-kilometre airport pair launched by the Star Alliance member this week will not face direct competition, and will operate inbound from Tel Aviv on Saturday evenings, with the outbound leg from Rzeszow being flown on Sunday mornings. With this launch, LOT now serves Tel Aviv from six airports in Poland on 21 weekly flights.   

NextJet Gothenburg

Seen cutting the ribbon to officially open NextJet’s new service between Umea and Gothenburg are: Jens Harrysson, Sales Director, NextJet; Peter Juneblad, Business Manager at Umea Municipality; Anders Hjalmarsson, CEO at Västerbotten Chamber of Commerce; and Bengt-Ove Lindgren, Airport Manager, Swedavia. The regional operator plans to offer 16 weekly flights on the 806-kilometre domestic link using its fleet of CRJ 200s.

  • NextJet introduced a new Swedish domestic link to its network this week, starting a 16 times weekly connection between Umea (UME) and Gothenburg (GOT). The carrier, which launched the city pair on 12 March, will face direct competition on the 806-kilometre sector from SAS, the leading airline in the Nordic region. The Star Alliance member already serves the route three times weekly according to OAG Schedules Analyser data.

San Jose held a launch party at the gate for Southwest Airlines’ inaugural flight to San Jose del Cabo on 10 March, with festivities including giveaways and destination-branded cookies. A ribbon-cutting ceremony also took place. Southwest will operate the 1,960-kilometre sector weekly (Saturdays), facing direct competition from Alaska Airlines.

Southwest Airlines Sacramento

A gate event also took place at Sacramento for Southwest Airlines’ first flight to San Jose del Cabo on 10 March. This is the only route launched by the carrier this week that will not face direct competition.

  • Southwest Airlines has gone international five times over this week, launching overseas routes from bases in Florida, Indiana and California. Of the five routes inaugurated this week, only one, the link from Sacramento (SMF) to San Jose del Cabo (SJD) will not face direct competition. The average frequency of the five routes is 2.4, with only the connection between Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Aruba (AUA) seeing a daily rotation, while the average weekly frequency of the competition is 3.8. The average sector length of Southwest’s latest airport pairs is 1,945 kilometres.
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
08-Mar Fort Lauderdale (FLL) Aruba (AUA) B73W (7) JetBlue Airways (7), Spirit Airlines (1)
10-Mar Indianapolis (IND) Cancún (CUN) B73W (1) Delta Air Lines (1)
Sacramento (SMF) San Jose del Cabo (SJD)  
San Diego (SAN) Puerto Vallarta (PVR) B73W (2) Alaska Airlines (3)
San Jose (SJC) San Jose del Cabo (SJD) B73W (1) Alaska Airlines (7)
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser data for w/c 13 March 2018. WF = Weekly Frequency.

On board the first Utair flight from Kaluga to Moscow Vnukovo was Dmitry Osipov, who said in his Facebook post after the inaugural flight on 8 March: “From Vnukovo to Kaluga and back without traffic jams? Now it’s easy!” According to OAG schedules data, the route is the airline’s first service from the Russian regional airport and its 49th non-stop link from Vnukovo – its biggest hub in terms of weekly seats.

  • Utair, the Russian airline, has started a 129-kilometre sector from Kaluga (KLF) to Moscow Vnukovo (VKO). Commenced on 8 March, the daily domestic service is operated by Utair’s ATR 72 fleet and faces no direct competition. These route launch pictures were taken by Dmitry Osipov who said in his Facebook post: “From Vnukovo to Kaluga and back without traffic jams? Now it’s easy!”

WestJet Denver

WestJet commenced daily flights between Calgary and Denver on 8 March, with the US hub holding a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the new service. Seen carrying out the ribbon cutting proceeding are: Patrick Heck, CCO, Denver Airport; Kim Day, CEO Denver Airport; Cameron Kenyon, EVP Operations, WestJet; Penny May, Deputy Chief of Staff, Denver Mayor’s Office; and Stéphane Lessard, Consul General of Canada in Denver.

  • WestJet commenced its latest US route on 8 March, a 1,444-kilometre link between Calgary (YYC) and Denver (DEN), a sector already flown by United Airlines 20 times weekly. “We are very pleased to welcome WestJet as our newest airline partner,” said Kim Day, CEO of Denver Airport. “As Denver’s ninth foreign flag carrier, WestJet will provide a truly unique experience for travellers to Calgary and beyond across its growing international network.” WestJet will operate its latest city pair daily on a year-round basis using its 737-700s.


  1. Mei says:

    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted
    to say great blog!

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