New airline routes launched (20 March 2018 – 26 March 2018)

Qantas Perth to London Heathrow

Qantas’ first Perth to London Heathrow flight launched on 24 March, marking the start of the only direct air link between Australia and Europe – and the fastest way of travelling between the two continents. The history-making flight QF9, carrying more than 200 passengers and 16 crew, pushed back just before 19:00 on Saturday evening and landed in London at 05:00 on Sunday.

Celebrations were also held upon arrival in the UK, where Qantas CEO Alan Joyce received the “Platinum Planet Prize”, an award recognising the world’s first-ever non-stop route from Australia to Europe. Operated by a 787-9, the flight reduces total travel time by eliminating stopovers and taking advantage of the most favourable winds on any given day without having to factor in a mid-point in the Middle East or Asia when choosing a flight path.

  • Qantas launched its landmark flights between Perth (PER) and London Heathrow (LHR) on 24 March, marking the start of the only direct air link between Australia and Europe – and the fastest way of travelling between the two continents. Upon arrival in the UK, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce received the “Platinum Planet Prize”. The Qantas boss described the flight as a major milestone for Australia as well as global aviation.“This is a truly historic flight that opens up a new era of travel. For the first time, Australia and Europe have a direct air link. The original Kangaroo Route from Australia to London was named for the seven stops it made over four days back in 1947. Now we can do it in a single leap. The response to the flight has been amazing, both for the attention it’s received since we announced it and the bookings we’ve seen coming in. It’s great for Australian tourism, for business travellers and for people visiting friends and family on both sides of the world.” Operated daily by 787-9s, the 14,499-kilometre sector will face no direct competition. On 25 March Qantas also re-established daily services from Singapore (SIN) to Heathrow. Having been dumped in preference for stopover in Dubai in March 2013, the airline resumed the A380-operated sector, which will be flown in competition with Singapore Airlines (four times daily) and British Airways (double-daily).

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

Adria Airways Sofia

Adria Airways commenced flights between Ljubljana and Sofia on 25 March. Seen cutting the ribbon at the Slovenian capital airport, officially opening the new link to Bulgaria, are: Zmago Skobir, CEO Fraport Slovenia; Holger Kowarsch, CEO Adria Airways; and Peter Gašperšič, Minister of Infrastructure in Slovenia.

  • Adria Airways commenced two new routes from Ljubljana (LJU) during the first week of the 2018 summer season, with it choosing to link the Slovenian city to Geneva (GVA) and Sofia (SOF). The connection with the Bulgarian capital was the first to launch, with Adria Airways inaugurating a twice-weekly (Mondays and Thursdays) service on the 809-kilometre city pair on the morning of 25 March. The airline also operated a Sunday service during the first week of operation. The route to Geneva commenced on 26 March, with Adria Airways scheduled to operate the 641-kilometre sector to Switzerland three times weekly. The routes launched by the carrier this week are expected to be flown on its fleet of 67-seat CRJ 700s, with neither city pair facing direct competition. The next route launches for the carrier occur next week, when it links Ljubljana to Bucharest and Hamburg. Flights to the German city were meant to launch on 25 March, but data shows that the flight did not operate, with the first bookable direct flight occurring on 1 April according to the airline’s booking engine and OAG. 

Aer Lingus Philadelphia

Aer Lingus has certainly given Rocky an easier option to travel to Ireland, with the airline starting flights between Dublin and Philadelphia on 25 March. The Irish flag carrier will operate the 5,250-kilometre transatlantic route four times weekly using 757-200s, with the carrier facing direct competition from American Airlines.

  • Aer Lingus has made Philadelphia (PHL) its 11th destination in the US, with the Irish flag carrier starting a four times weekly service to the Pennsylvanian city from Dublin (DUB). Launched 25 March, the 5,250-kilometre transatlantic route will be flown using the carrier’s 177-seat 757-200s which are on lease from ASL Airlines Ireland. Direct competition comes in the form of oneworld member American Airlines, with the US carrier already operating between the two airports daily. Aer Lingus will up its market presence across the Atlantic in May when it commences its next US route – Seattle-Tacoma. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), Aer Lingus flew just under 1.26 million passengers to/from the US during the first nine months of 2017, an increase of 7.5% when compared to the same period of 2016. Vote for Philadelphia Airport’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote

La Palma marked Air Europa’s inaugural service to Tenerife North with a traditional water arch salute on 25 March. The carrier will serve the 138-kilometre short hop with 44 weekly flights using ATR 72s. On the same day, Air Europa began double-daily services between Madrid and Venice Marco Polo. It will face incumbent competition on both new airport pairs.

  • Air Europa began two new routes on 25 March, commencing flights on the domestic link between La Palma (SPC) and Tenerife North (TFN) and adding a connection between Madrid (MAD) and Venice Marco Polo (VCE). It will operate the short, 138-kilometre domestic sector with ATR 72s, offering 44 weekly frequencies on the hotly contested route. OAG schedules for the week commencing 27 March show that this quick hop is already served by BinterCanarias (86 weekly frequencies) and Canaryfly (28). Air Europa will serve the 1,405-kilometre Madrid-Venice Marco Polo route twice-daily with its E190s. It will face direct competition from Iberia, which is scheduled to operate 25 flights on this sector during the week commencing 27 March. Vote for La Palma Airport’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote

There were celebrations at Delhi Airport on 22 March to mark Air India’s inaugural flight to Tel Aviv. Cutting the ribbon to launch the route were Sanjiv Edward CCO, Delhi Airport; Pradeep Singh Kharola, Chairman and MD Air India; Seema Srivastava, Executive Director Strategic Planning, Air India and S.S. Uberoi, Executive Director, Air India. Kharola also greeted the first passengers, presenting them with flowers, and took part in a traditional lamp lighting ceremony.

  • Air India began flights from Delhi (DEL) to Tel Aviv (TLV) on 22 March. The new 4,046-kilometre sector will be operated three times weekly with 787-8s. The Indian flag carrier faces no incumbent competition on this airport pair. The route will be the fastest non-stop flight between India and Israel due to Air India being granted permission to fly through Saudi Arabian airspace. This is currently the only route the Indian carrier is scheduled to operate to Tel Aviv in S18. Vote for Delhi Airport’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote

Air Malta Lisbon

Air Malta commenced flights to Lisbon on 25 March, with this becoming the second connection between Malta and Portugal as Ryanair already connects the Mediterranean island with Porto. Among those present at the Portuguese capital route launch were: Joseph Galea, CEO of Air Malta, Dr Charles Mangion, Chairman, Air Malta; Dr Gavin Gulia, Chairman, Malta Tourism Authority; and Leslie Vella, Deputy CEO Malta Tourism Authority.

Air Malta

Air Malta added Casablanca to its network on 26 March, with the airline baking a cake to mark the occasion. Flights on the 2,031-kilometre link will be flown twice-weekly (Mondays and Thursdays) facing no direct competition.

  • Air Malta has expanded its operations from Malta (MLA) this week, launching flights from its home base to Casablanca (CMN), Lisbon (LIS), Malaga (AGP) and Venice Marco Polo (VCE). The first route to be inaugurated was the 2,105-kilometre link to the Portuguese capital which started 25 March. Air Malta will offer a twice-weekly (Thursdays and Sundays) service on its only route to Portugal, flown using a mixture of its A319s and A320s. Casablanca, Malaga and Venice services launched the following day, with these routes also seeing a twice-weekly operation. Flights on the 2,031-kilometre sector to Africa will operate on Mondays and Thursdays. The 1,698-kilometre link to Spain will be flown on Mondays and Fridays, while the airline’s latest route to Italy will see a Monday and Saturday rotation. Like Lisbon, the Casablanca and Malaga routes will be flown on a mixture of the carrier’s short-haul Airbus fleet, while Venice will just be served by A320s according to OAG schedules. Neither of the four services launched by Air Malta this week will face direct competition. Vote for Malta Airport’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
25-Mar Malta (MLA) Lisbon (LIS) A32S (2)  
26-Mar Casablanca (CMN)  
Malaga (AGP)  
Venice Marco Polo (VCE) A320 (2)  
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 27 March. WF = Weekly frequencies.

The inaugural Air Mauritius service to Amsterdam arrived in the Dutch capital on 26 March. The carrier will operate the 9,559-kilometre route twice-weekly (Mondays and Fridays) in S18 with its A340-300s. During the peak summer months of July and August a third weekly flight will be available. There is no competition on this airport pair.

  • Air Mauritius began operations on its new Mauritius (MRU) to Amsterdam (AMS) service on 26 March. It will serve the route twice-weekly (Mondays and Fridays) during S18 with a third weekly flight operating on Wednesdays in July and August. The flag carrier of Mauritius will use its A340-300s on the 9,559-kilometre sector, which will be operated under a collaborative agreement with KLM. OAG schedules show that the Dutch national carrier served this airport pair with three flights per week up until 25 March, with Air Mauritius now the sole operator. “The start of operations to Amsterdam is part of our plan to develop a second hub in Europe,” stated Somas Appavou, CEO of Air Mauritius. “Schiphol Airport, which is well served by our partner KLM, gives us access to 50 codeshare destinations all over Europe. We expect Amsterdam to develop into an important hub on our network, particularly for passengers from Nordic and East European countries. This will contribute to boost tourist arrivals to Mauritius.”

There were celebrations at Valencia Airport on 26 March where a special cake was baked to welcome the arrival of Alitalia’s inaugural service from Rome Fiumicino. The Italian flag carrier will operate the 1,099-kilometre route daily with A320 family aircraft and faces incumbent competition in the form of Vueling.

  • Alitalia commenced flights on a new link from Rome Fiumicino (FCO) to Valencia (VLC) on 26 March. The Italian national carrier will operate the 1,099-kilometre sector daily using A320 family aircraft. It faces direct competition on this airport pair in the form of Vueling, which will offer nine flights on the route during the week commencing 27 March. According to OAG schedules this will be Alitalia’s only direct flight to Valencia in S18. Vote for Valencia’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote

Azul Airlines Rosario

Azul Airlines commenced a weekly (Saturdays) service to Rosario from Recife on 24 March, with some of Rosario Airport’s staff gathering for a celebratory picture on arrival. The carrier will operate the 3,829-kilometre sector using its fleet of A320s according to OAG schedules, with the route facing no direct competition.

  • Azul Airlines has introduced Argentina to its Recife (REC) network this week, starting weekly (Saturdays) services to Cordoba (COR) and Rosario (ROS). Both inaugurated on 24 March, the 3,977- and 3,829-kilometre sectors will be operated on the carrier’s fleet of A320s, with neither city pair expected to face direct competition. Azul Airlines already has an established presence in Argentina, with the carrier linking Buenos Aires Ezeiza Airport to Belo Horizonte and Natal based on OAG schedules.

Bangkok Airways’ first flight from Chiang Mai received a warm welcome at Hanoi Airport on 25 March. Joining the celebrations (beginning second from left) were Poonsuk Teerawanichphol, VP, Management Accounting, Bangkok Airways; Chanthip Thongkanya, VP, Office of President, Bangkok Airways; Napasorn KaKai, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Ho Chi Minh City Office; Varong Israsena Na Ayudhya, VP, Sales, Bangkok Airways; Nguyen The Vinh, Deputy Director, Operation Center, Hanoi Airport; Peter Wiesner, Advisor, Network Management, Bangkok Airways; Nguyen Dinh Duc, Deputy Director, Aviation Security Center, Hanoi Airport; and Nguyen Tien Duc, Deputy Manager, Business Department, Hanoi Airport.

  • Bangkok Airways inaugurated a new connection between Chiang Mai (CNX) and Hanoi (HAN) on 25 March. The Thai carrier will operate the 764-kilometre sector daily using its ATR 72-500s or -600s. There is currently no direct competition on this route. Outbound flights depart Chiang Mai at 09:55, arriving in Hanoi at 12:00. The inbound flight departs Hanoi at 12:45, arriving back in Chiang Mai at 14:50. Hanoi becomes Bangkok Airways’ third destination in Vietnam adding to its services from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi to Da Nang and Phu Quoc.

Blue Air Paris CDG

Blue Air introduced Paris CDG to its route map on 25 March, with the carrier launching a three times weekly service to the French hub from Turin. Seen cutting the cake at the Italian airport, baked to toast the carrier’s first-ever route to CDG, are Francesca Soncini, External Relations Manager of Turin Airport and Clemance Dumitrache, Station Manager, Blue Air. Competition on the 571-kilometre sector comes from Air France which offers 25 weekly flights.

  • Blue Air commenced flights between Turin (TRN) and Paris CDG (CDG) on 25 March, the airline’s first-ever route to the French hub. CDG becomes the carrier’s second airport in Paris, with it already offering services from Bucharest and Iasi to Paris Beauvais on a year-round basis. It also operates flights to Beauvais from Constanta during the summer season. Its newest link from Turin to CDG will be operated three times weekly on its mixed fleet of 737s. Competition on the 571-kilometre sector comes from hub carrier Air France which serves the city pair 25 times weekly when referencing OAG data. Vote for Turin Airport’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote

Cathay Pacific Airways made Brussels its newest European destination on 25 March, the day which saw it commence a four times weekly A350-900-operated service from Hong Kong. Among the festivities to take place at the Belgian capital airport was a ribbon cutting ceremony, while a cake was also on hand to mark the occasion. Having the honour of officially opening the route by cutting the ribbon are: Arnaud Feist, CEO Brussels Airport; Shirley Lam, Special Representative for Hong Kong Economic and Trade Affairs to the European Union; Kris Peeters, Belgium’s Vice-Prime Minister and Minister for Economy; and James Ginns, GM Europe, Cathay Pacific Airways.

  • Cathay Pacific Airways has added Brussels (BRU) to its European network out of Hong Kong (HKG), with the Belgian capital joining Amsterdam, Barcelona, Frankfurt, London’s Heathrow and Gatwick, Madrid, Manchester, Milan Malpensa, Paris CDG, Rome Fiumicino and Zurich. “This direct flight with Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong is a new milestone for Brussels Airport. We’re delighted to welcome the first non-stop flight between our country and the inspiring metropolis of Hong Kong. The Asia network is now richer with this top destination, for both holidaymakers and business travellers alike,” commented Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport about the new service. Launched 25 March, the oneworld member will offer a four times weekly rotation to Brussels, a 9,362-kilometre sector that will be operated using the airline’s fleet of A350-900s. No direct competition is provided on the route, with this service marking the only connection between Hong Kong and Belgium at the moment. With the commencement of direct flights to Hong Kong, it brings to seven the number of direct destinations available in Asia from Brussels Airport (excluding the Middle East), with Hong Kong joining Beijing, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Tokyo Narita, Mumbai, Shanghai Pudong and Shenzhen, a route which also launched this week. Vote for Brussels Airport’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote

easyJet began a twice-weekly service from Edinburgh to Seville on 26 March. The UK-Spain sector was welcomed upon arrival at Seville with this water arch ceremony.

Another fire truck water arch was dispensed for a new easyJet route to Rennes on the same day. This time it was for the 576-kilometre domestic sector from Lyon, which will face competition from HOP!, with its 16 times weekly operation.

  • easyJet has commenced four new sectors since 20 March, three international and one in the domestic French market. The longest sector is the 2,836-kilometre route from London Luton (LTN) to Dalaman (DLM), whereas the shortest city pair is Lyon (LYS) to Rennes (RNS), at just 576 kilometres. The average sector length of all four services is 2,003 kilometres, while the average frequency is just 2.5 flights per week. Only one of the four airport pairs will see any direct competition.
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
25-Mar London Luton (LTN) Dalaman (DLM) A320 (2)  
26-Mar Edinburgh (EDI) Seville (SVQ)  
Lyon (LYS) Fuerteventura (FUE)  
Rennes (RNS) A32S (4) HOP! (16)
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 27 March. WF = Weekly frequencies.

Eurowings opened its latest base on 25 March, when it commenced base operations from Nuremberg. Initially starting with routes to Catania and Heraklion, the LCC will add flights to Olbia later in the summer to its existing services from the Southern Germany airport.

Eurowings launching a route expansion from Vienna starting on 25 March. The German LCC inaugurated flights to Catania this week, with services to Larnaca, Corfu, Chania, Heraklion, Kos and Rhodes to be added later in the summer. “Eurowings, which has six aircraft stationed at Vienna Airport, is contributing to the successful growth of the Vienna flight hub thanks to its numerous new flight connections. The steady route expansion of Eurowings in Vienna not only underlines the potential of Vienna Airport, but also our good cooperation with the airline,” said Julian Jäger, Joint CEO and COO of Vienna Airport. The new routes were officially opened by Belina Neumann, Head of Aviation Marketing of Vienna Airport (fifth from left) and Dieter Watzak-Helmer, MD Eurowings Europe (sixth from left).

  • Eurowings has used the last seven days to start 11 new routes, with more to follow, as the German LCC has another busy summer season of new sectors planned. The longest sector is the 2,206-kilometre route from Hannover (HAJ) to Kos (KGS), whereas the shortest city pair is Stuttgart (STR) to Venice Marco Polo (VCE), at 425 kilometres. The average sector length of all 11 services is 1,040 kilometres, while the average frequency is 6.4 flights per week. Only three of the 11 airport pairs will encounter any direct competition. Vote for Nuremberg Airport’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
24-Mar Munich (MUC) Pristina (PRN) A319 (1)  
25-Mar Berlin Tegel (TXL) Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden (FKB) Q400 (12)  
Salzburg (SZG) Q400 (13)  
Hamburg (HAM) Munich (MUC) A319 (25) Lufthansa (71)
Hannover (HAJ) Kos (KGS) B738 (1)  
Nuremberg (NUE) Catania (CTA) B738 (2) Adria Airways (4), Germania (4)
Stuttgart (STR) Venice Marco Polo (VCE) A32S (2)  
Wroclaw (WRO) Q400 (4)  
26-Mar Nuremberg (NUE) Heraklion (HER) B738 (2) easyJet (3)
Vienna (VIE) Catania (CTA) A320 (2)  
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 27 March. WF = Weekly frequencies.

Seen celebrating the launch of FlyPelican’s new route to Adelaide from Newcastle were: Rodney Harrex, CEO, South Australian Tourism Commission; Paul Graham, CEO, FlyPelican; Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes; Dr Peter Cock, CEO, Newcastle Airport; Brenton Cox, EGM Finance and Corporate, Adelaide Airport; Jonathan Cheong, Head of Aviation Business Development, Adelaide Airport; Marty Hawley, Executive Director, FlyPelican; Nick Jones, Executive Director, South Australian Tourism Commission; and Emil McCabe, Director of Operations, FlyPelican.

  • FlyPelican’s first flight between Newcastle (NTL) and Adelaide (ADL) commenced on 22 March. This direct service operates three times weekly with the Australian regional carrier’s Fokker 70 fleet. The route becomes FlyPelican’s fifth service from Newcastle, adding to its existing services to Sydney, Canberra, Dubbo and Ballina. There is no direct competition on this domestic city pair. Vote for either Newcastle or Adelaide’s cakes in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote

Georgian Airways commenced flights to Bratislava on 25 March. Among the festivities at the Slovakian capital airport were a ribbon and cake cutting ceremony. Having the honour of cutting the ribbon were: Deputy CEO of Georgian Airways, Giorgi Gorgiladze; Georgian Ambassador to Slovakia, Revaz Gachechiladze; State Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, Lukáš Parízek; Slovakian Ambassador to Georgia, Rudolf Michalka; Director of Aviation and Strategic Marketing of Bratislava Airport, Radek Zábranský; plus the first flight captain and members of Slovak folklore group Vienok. Georgian Airways will link Tbilisi to Bratislava twice-weekly (Mondays and Saturdays).

Georgian Airways Berlin

Georgian Airways added Berlin Schönefeld to its network on 26 March, with the carrier planning to link Tbilisi to the capital of Germany three times weekly. Among those at the launch along with the crew were: Andreas Ley, Aviation Marketing, Berlin Brandenburg; Ketevan Gvenetadze, Embassy Counsellor, Georgian Embassy; Levan Diasamidze, Envoy, Georgian Embassy; Georg Okujava, Country Manager Germany, Georgian Airways; and Nana Godziashvili, Commercial Director, Georgian Airways. The carrier will operate the 2,633-kilometre sector using its fleet of E190s.

  • Georgian Airways kick-started its European expansion this week, with the national carrier of Georgia beginning flights from Tbilisi (TBS) to Barcelona (BCN), Berlin Schönefeld (SXF), Bratislava (BTS) and Brussels (BRU). The quartet of routes will be operated on the airline’s fleet of E190s, with all of the destinations currently unserved from the Georgian capital. The average sector length of the four routes is 2,920 kilometres. Along with the city pairs inaugurated this week, the carrier will begin flights to Athens, Bologna, Cologne Bonn, Kazan, Paris CDG and Thessaloniki in the coming weeks, with all of these services also planned to be operated on its fleet of E190s. Vote for Bratislava Airport’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
25-Mar Tbilisi (TBS) Barcelona (BCN) E190 (2)  
Bratislava (BTS)  
Brussels (BRU)  
26-Mar Berlin Schönefeld (SXF) E190 (3)  
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 27 March. WF = Weekly frequencies.

Brussels Airport held a special ceremony to welcome the arrival of Hainan Airlines’ first flight from Shenzhen on 20 March. Arnaud Feist, CEO Brussels Airport; Xing Qu, Chinese Ambassador to Belgium; and Olivier Yang, Country Manager, Hainan Airlines marked the event by performing ceremonial ribbon and cake cuttings. The new link will be operated twice-weekly by 787-8s and becomes the third direct Chinese destination served from Brussels by Hainan Airlines after Beijing and Shanghai Pudong.

Among those celebrating the arrival of Hainan Airlines’ first service from Shenzhen at Madrid Airport, with a specially-baked cake on 22 March, were Lyu Fan, the Ambassador of China in Spain (centre), and Elena Mayoral, Director Madrid Airport (second from right). The Chinese carrier will operate this 10,466-kilometre sector twice-weekly and faces no direct competition. This route becomes the ninth Asian destination served from Madrid.

There was also an event at Beijing to mark Hainan Airlines’ first links to Mexico, with the celebrations including the obligatory route launch cake. Three times weekly services to Mexcio City and Tijuana commenced on 21 March with the Mexican capital served indirectly via the latter airport. Hainan Airlines faces no direct competition on either route.

  • Hainan Airlines has commenced five new links in time for summer, beginning three services to Europe and its first two services to Mexico. Four of the airline’s new airport pairs are direct services, but the Beijing (PEK) to Mexico City (MEX) link will operate via Tijuana (TIJ). At 12,538 kilometres, the indirect Mexico City sector is the longest of the five new routes. The shortest of the new sectors is the 9,049-kilometre link from Changsha (CSX) to London Heathrow (LHR). The average route length of the four direct connections is 9,770 kilometres. Frequencies on the five airport pairs vary from two to three per week. Vote for either Beijing, Brussels or Madrid’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition (WF)
20-Mar Shenzhen (SZX) Brussels (BRU) B788 (2)  
21-Mar Beijing (PEK) Mexico City (MEX) B788 (3)  
Tijuana (TIJ) B788 (3)  
22-Mar Shenzhen (SZX) Madrid (MAD) B788 (2)  
23-Mar Changsha (CSX) London Heathrow (LHR) B788 (3)  
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 27 March 2018. WF = Weekly frequencies.

Celebrating the launch of Hong Kong Airlines’ new service at San Francisco Airport on 25 March were Doug Yakel, Public Information Officer, San Francisco Airport; George Liu, Chief Marketing Officer, Hong Kong Airlines and Mark Chandler, Director of San Francisco Mayor’s Office of International Trade and Commerce. The route will be served four times weekly with A350-900s.

  • Hong Kong Airlines commenced its latest connection to North America on 25 March beginning flights between Hong Kong (HKG) and San Francisco (SFO). The carrier will operate the 11,124-kilometre airport pair four times weekly with its new A350-900 fleet. It will face direct competition from Cathay Pacific (20 weekly flights), Singapore Airlines (7) and United Airlines (7). This becomes the airline’s third destination in North America, following the successful launch of services to Vancouver and Los Angeles in 2017. “We are thrilled to launch our new service between Hong Kong and San Francisco, connecting two great cities with a non-stop direct flight,” said George Liu, Chief Marketing Officer, Hong Kong Airlines. “While Hong Kong Airlines is relatively new to the North American market, we are committed to offering a value proposition to our customers, including the deployment of the Airbus A350, one of the most technologically advanced aircraft in the world, and ensuring customers enjoy an exceptional in-flight service delivered by our energetic crew,” he added. “We are pleased to welcome the launch of Hong Kong Airlines’ new nonstop service to SFO,” said Ivar Satero, Airport Director, San Francisco Airport. “As only the second destination in the US, we are honored that Hong Kong Airlines has made our airport an important part of its growth strategy. This reinforces SFO as the premier international gateway to the San Francisco Bay Area.”

Loganair returned to operate the Glasgow to Donegal link on 25 March after a hiatus of just over three years. The Scottish carrier will serve the route three times per week all-year round, with additional seasonal services available on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Celebrating the launch of the new link in front of one of the carrier’s Saab 340s were Paul White, Business Development Manager, Glasgow Airport and Kay Ryan, Commercial Director, Loganair.

  • Loganair commenced services between Glasgow (GLA) and Donegal (CFN) on 25 March, a route it previously served as recently as January 2015. It will operate the 262-kilometre sector three times per week, year-round, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Additional summer flights will operate on Wednesdays between 27 June and 19 September and on Saturdays from 26 May to 3 November. There will also be an additional Saturday service for the Easter holidays from March 31 until April 14. The airport pair will be operated with the airline’s Saab 340s and there is no direct competition after Aer Lingus’ regional arm, stopped serving the route on 24 March. “Glasgow to Donegal is a hugely important link for both Ireland and Scotland, offering an excellent connection for passengers,” said Kay Ryan, Commercial Director, Loganair. “The previous incumbent of the route completed its final trip yesterday so we’re ensuring a total continuation of service without break. Bookings have so far been really positive and the route is proving popular with families, football fans and holiday makers. Customers can also connect to an extensive network of onward Loganair destinations out of Glasgow Airport using a single ticket, acting as a gateway to Scotland’s Highlands and Islands – including Stornoway, Islay, Campbeltown, Tiree and Benbecula.” Anne Bonner, MD, Donegal Airport said: “The board, management and staff of Donegal Airport are delighted to welcome Loganair and see the Glasgow flights continue without any break in the service. I have no doubt that the loyal customers using the Donegal-Glasgow flights over the years will continue to support and strengthen the route.” Vote for Glasgow Airport’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote

LOT Polish Airlines Oslo

Cutting the ribbon at Oslo Gardermoen, officially opening LOT Polish Airlines’ 13 times weekly service from Warsaw Chopin, were: Jasper Spruit, VP Traffic & Cargo Development, Avinor; Iwona Woicka-Żuławska, Ambassador of Poland to Norway; and Adrian Kubicki, Executive Director Corporate Communications, LOT Polish Airlines.

  • LOT Polish Airlines introduced services between Warsaw Chopin (WAW) and Oslo Gardermoen (OSL) on 25 March. The Star Alliance member will offer 13 weekly flights on the 1,078-kilometre European capital connection using its fleet of E195s. Competition on the route comes from Norwegian and SAS, with the rivals offering 10 weekly rotations combined between the two airports when referencing OAG schedules. 

Glasgow Airport’s Business Development Manager Paul White (left) and Lufthansa’s Marketing Manager Julee Myers (right), as well as Harald Berger and Daniela Hertel from Frankfurt who were in Glasgow on holiday, helped to launch the Star Alliance carrier’s new daily flight from Frankfurt to the Scottish city. The airport and airline gave away 800 frankfurter sausages in George Square, Glasgow to promote the new route.

  • Lufthansa has commenced four new links from its Frankfurt (FRA) hub over the past seven days, two European and two intercontinental. The longest sector was the 9,373-kilometre route to San Diego (SAN), while the shortest city pair was the 1,083-kilometre service to Glasgow (GLA). The average sector length of the four new routes was 5,001 kilometres, while the average frequency was 5.5 flights per week.
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
25-Mar Frankfurt (FRA) Chisinau (KIV) A319 (7) Air Moldova (6)
San Diego (SAN) A343 (5)  
26-Mar Glasgow (GLA) A320 (7) Ryanair (7)
Shenyang (SHE) A343 (3)  
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 27 March. WF = Weekly frequencies.

Yangon Airport and Myanmar National Airlines welcomed 150 guests to celebrate the launch of the carrier’s new service to Phuket on 25 March. Cutting the ceremonial ribbon to mark the occasion were José Angeja, COO of Yangon Aerodrome Company Limited; U Kyaw Myo, Second Minister of Ministry of Transport & Communication; U Min Lwin Director General of Civil Aviation; and Captain Than Tun, CEO of Myanmar National Airlines.

  • Myanmar National Airlines initiated operations on its new link between Yangon (RGN) and Phuket (HKT) on 25 March. It will serve the 1,004-kilometre sector twice-weekly (Fridays and Sundays) with its E190s and faces no incumbent competition. José Angeja, COO of Yangon Aerodrome Company Limited, said “Yangon International Airport will always be supportive of these sorts of initiatives from our airline partners since these types of efforts bring several win-win advantages for all parties. For the air carrier, it’s an exciting new route with new business opportunities. For the people of Myanmar, it means they can travel directly to one of the most famous destinations in Southeast Asia, and also offers visitors from Phuket a chance to visit our wonderful country. Our airport can fulfil even more capacity since we have plenty of room for growth. As such, I have no doubt that this will be a successful venture.”

Nordica Munich

Nordica commenced flights between Groningen and Munich on 25 March, with the Netherlands airport baking a striking-looking cake to mark the new route. Seen cutting the city pair inauguration confectionery are: Jonas van Dorp, Business Development Manager, Groningen Airport; Sven Kukemelk, Executive Director Business Development, Nordica; and Marco van de Kreeke, MD Groningen Airport. This is the airline’s second route from Groningen after Copenhagen.

Norwegian Chicago O'Hare

Norwegian commenced operations to Chicago O’Hare from London Gatwick on 25 March, with the inaugural flight being greeted with a traditional water arch salute as it taxied onto the gate. The LCC will offer a daily service on the 6,375-kilometre sector using its fleet of 787-9s. This is O’Hare’s first low-cost long-haul operation.

  • Norwegian introduced four new routes to its network during the first week of the S18 season, with this also bringing a new airport to its route map – Chicago O’Hare (ORD). The carrier will operate a daily service to the US city from London Gatwick (LGW), with the 6,375-kilometre sector scheduled to be operated on the carrier’s fleet of 787-9s. Along with its latest transatlantic service, the LCC also launched three intra-European routes, linking Bergen (BGO) to Madrid (MAD), Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) to Reykjavik/Keflavik (KEF), plus Helsinki (HEL) to Krakow (KRK). The trio of European services will operate twice-weekly on the airline’s 737-800s, with the latter two services being the only routes launched by Norwegian this week seeing direct competition.
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
25-Mar Bergen (BGO) Madrid (MAD) B738 (2)  
London Gatwick (LGW) Chicago O’Hare (ORD) B789 (7)  
26-Mar Helsinki (HEL) Krakow (KRK) B738 (2) Finnair (5)
Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) Reykjavik/Keflavik (KEF) Icelandair (8), WOW air (4)
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 27 March. WF = Weekly frequencies.

On 21 March Kansas City welcomed the arrival of OneJet with the carrier introducing a new service from Pittsburgh. The 1,241-kilometre sector will be operated double-daily from Monday to Friday. Flights be flown on 30-seat ERJ-135s and there is no incumbent competition.

  • OneJet introduced a new domestic link between Pittsburgh (PIT) and Kansas City (MCI) on 21 March. The 1,241-kilometre sector will be flown 10 times per week, with double-daily services on weekdays, but no flights on Saturdays or Sundays. Morning flights depart Pittsburgh at 06:00 Monday to Friday, with afternoon services leaving at 17:30 each weekday except Wednesdays when the scheduled departure time is 18:10. There is no direct competition on this airport pair. Flights will be operated by ERJ-135s configured with 30-seats and offering the airline’s OneJet Plus service, which includes increased leg room, complimentary 4G high-speed Wi-Fi, streaming entertainment gate to gate, and complimentary beer, wine and premium snacks en-route. “We’re extremely pleased to welcome Kansas City to the OneJet network” said Matt Maguire, CEO, OneJet. “The Pittsburgh-Kansas City route is of particular importance to our business customers operating in both cities and we look forward to providing a fast and convenient linkage between these key metropolitan areas.” “The Kansas City Aviation Department is excited that the day is here for the launch of OneJet in Kansas City with their high-quality OneJet Plus product,” said Pat Klein, Kansas City Director of Aviation. “Pittsburgh is a commonly requested destination from our customers, and the new service provides local travellers enhanced access.”

On 25 March, Ryanair commenced a daily service between Manchester and Belfast International. Ryanair’s Eimear Ryan (left) and Chiara Ravara (right) along with Belfast International Airport’s Deborah Harris (second left) and Barry Jackson (second right) marked the first 295-kilometre sector.

Ryanair added a twice-weekly service from Budapest to Santander on 26 March, which sees the Hungarian gateway now offer 11 Spanish destinations on its network this year. The ULCC also launched the airport’s first connection to Paphos, adding to Budapest’s growing list of destinations. “It’s always a pleasure to launch a new connection from our airport, and to be able to welcome two in as many days with a valued partner is a very good reason to celebrate,” enthuses Balázs Bogáts (second right), Head of Airline Development, Budapest Airport. “Ryanair now offers 36 destinations from Budapest and, having seen a fantastic 23% increase in passengers from our airport in 2017, we look forward to working closely with the airline during what is already promising to be another successful year of traffic development for Budapest,” added Bogáts.

At the other end of the new Ryanair link between Hungary and Spain were: Alejandra Ruiz, Ryanair Marketing Manager for Spain; Aurora Díaz (Miguel Revilla’s wife); Miguel Ángel Revilla, President of Cantabria Community; Enikö Györi, Ambassador of Hungary to Spain; Íñigo de la Serna, Minister of Public Works; and Gema Igual, Santander City Mayor.

Carol Benzie (right), MD of Aberdeen Airport said: ‘Ryanair’s new route to Malta, which launched this week, is a truly exciting addition to our growing network of summer leisure destinations.” The Irish carrier will operate the service twice-weekly, and it joins its existing operations to Malaga, Faro and Alicante.

Ryanair linked Latvia and Spain, with a new route from Riga to Girona beginning on 25 March. Holding the ubiquitous ULCC placard were Liene Freivalde, Director of the Aviation Service and Business Development Department and Laura Audariņa, Route Development Manager at the Baltic city airport.

The Irish ULCC started a twice-weekly service from Alicante to Pardubice in Czech Republic on 26 March. It will not face any direct competition on the 1,832-kilometre city pair.

  • Ryanair has used the last week to start 29 new routes, with many more to come, as the ULCC has a typically robust start to S18. The longest sector is the 3,658-kilometre route from Dublin (DUB) to Paphos (PFO), whereas the shortest city pair is Manchester (MAN) to Belfast International (BFS), at just 295 kilometres. The average sector length of all 29 services is 1,534 kilometres, while the average frequency is just 2.6 flights per week. Only four of the 29 airport pairs will observe any direct competition – just 14%. Vote for either Alicante, Budapest, Riga or Porto’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
25-Mar Brindisi (BDS) Verona (VRN) B738 (2)  
Brussels Charleroi (CRL) Malta (MLA) B738 (7)  
Dublin (DUB) Marrakech (RAK) B738 (2)  
Edinburgh (EDI) Hamburg (HAM) B738 (4) easyJet (4)
Frankfurt (FRA) Chania (CHQ) B738 (2)  
Corfu (CFU) B738 (4)  
Murcia (NJV) B738 (2)  
Perpignan (PGF)  
Girona (GRO) Riga (RIX)  
Malta (MLA) Aberdeen (ABZ)  
Barcelona (BCN) B738 (4) Vueling (4)
Bratislava (BTS) B738 (2)  
Manchester (MAN) Belfast International (BFS) B738 (7)  
26-Mar Alicante (ALC) Pardubice (PED) B738 (2)  
Bratislava (BTS) Thessaloniki (SKG)  
Budapest (BUD) Santander (SDR)  
Dublin (DUB) Paphos (PFO)  
Frankfurt (FRA) Agadir (AGA) Condor (1), SunExpress Germany (1)
Girona (GRO)  
Mykonos (JMK)  
Pula (PUY) Lufthansa (1)
Zadar (ZAD)  
Girona (GRO) Kaunas (KUN)  
Hamburg (HAM) Oslo Torp (TRF)  
Malta (MLA) Porto (OPO)  
Pescara (PSR) Warsaw Modlin (WMI)  
Sofia (SOF) Paphos (PFO) B738 (3)  
Valencia (VLC) Bristol (BRS) B738 (2)  
Warsaw Modlin (WMI) Rimini (RMI)  
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 27 March. WF = Weekly frequencies.

SAS Alicante

SAS commenced flights between Bodø in Norway and Alicante on 24 March, with the Spanish airport holding a launch ceremony for the first flight, which included a stylish inauguration cake. The 3,354-kilometre link will operate weekly (Saturdays) facing no direct competition. This is the airline’s only international route from Bodø.

SAS Genoa

SAS commenced flights between Copenhagen and Genoa on 24 March, with the passengers seen here disembarking the inaugural service at the Italian airport. The carrier will operate the 1,275-kilometre sector weekly using its fleet of CRJ 900s. Genoa is one of three routes launched by SAS from Copenhagen this week.

  • SAS strengthened its position as one of the leading airlines between Scandinavia and mainland Europe this week by commencing four new routes between the two regions. The airline now links its Copenhagen (CPH) hub to Genoa (GOA), Lisbon (LIS) and Sarajevo (SJJ). Along with these three services, the carrier also commenced a weekly (Saturdays) route from Bodø (BOO) in Norway to Alicante (ALC). Only the 2,470-kilometre sector between the Danish and Portuguese capitals is expected to face direct competition. Vote for Alicante Airport’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
24-Mar Bodø (BOO) Alicante (ALC) B738 (1)  
Copenhagen (CPH) Genoa (GOA) CRJ9 (1)  
Sarajevo (SJJ) EQV (2)  
25-Mar Lisbon (LIS) A320 (2) TAP Portugal (12), Norwegian (2)
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 27 March. WF = Weekly frequencies.

Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines officially opened its new daily service between Fort Lauderale and Guayaquil with a ribbon cutting ceremony on 22 March. This is the airline’s only route between the US and Ecuador.

  • Spirit Airlines commenced flights between Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Guayaquil (GYE) on 22 March, the carrier’s first route to Ecuador. The daily service will be operated on the ULCC’s fleet of A319s, and faces direct competition from tame which offers four weekly flights according to OAG schedules. Along with this new service, Spirit launched a further four routes this week. The average sector length of the five routes inaugurated is 1,981 kilometres. 
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
22-Mar Baltimore/Washington (BWI) Denver (DEN) A319 (7) Southwest Airlines (33), United Airlines (14)
Montego Bay (MBJ) Southwest Airlines (9)
Columbus (CMH) New Orleans (MSY) A320 (3) Southwest Airlines (7)
Fort Lauderdale (FLL) Guayaquil (GYE) A319 (7) tame (4)
23-Mar Columbus (CMH) Myrtle Beach (MYR) A320 (4)  
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 27 March. WF = Weekly frequencies.

SWISS Kiev Boryspil

A press conference was held at Kiev Boryspil on 26 March to talk about SWISS’ new four times weekly service from Zurich which commenced that day. Among those taking part in the proceedings were: Guillaume Scheurer, Ambassador of Switzerland to Ukraine; Volodymyr Omelyan, Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine; René Köinzák, General Director of SWISS in Ukraine; and Pavlo Ryabikin, Director General of Kiev Boryspil Airport.

SWISS Bordeaux

SWISS commenced flights between Zurich and Bordeaux on 26 March, with the French airport holding a celebratory event for the inaugural flight. The carrier will operate 12 weekly flights on the city pair.

  • SWISS inaugurated two routes during the first week of the S18 season, with the Star Alliance member commencing services from Zurich (ZRH) to Bordeaux (BOD) and Kiev Boryspil (KBP). Both launched on 26 March, the 768-kilometre link to the French city will be flown 12 times weekly on a mix of the carrier’s CS300s, Q400s (operated by Austrian Airlines) and E190s (Helvetic Airways) according to OAG schedules. The 1,658-kilometre link to the Ukrainian capital is scheduled to be operated using A320s on a four times weekly basis. While Bordeaux and Kiev Boryspil are both new destinations for SWISS, only the former is a new route from Zurich, with Ukraine International Airlines already operating a daily service between its Boryspil hub and Switzerland’s largest city. It should be noted that SWISS has flown the Zurich-Boryspil airport pairing before, having last served the route in October 2014. Vote for Kiev Boryspil’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote

TAP Portugal London City

London City Airport welcomed its second route with TAP Portugal on 25 March, a six times weekly service from Porto, adding to the carrier’s existing Lisbon route. To celebrate the occasion, the UK capital airport had a classic route launch cake, with Portuguese custard tarts also provided for the inaugural passengers to enjoy.

  • TAP Portugal opened up four routes from Porto (OPO) for the start of S18, namely Barcelona (BCN), London City (LCY), Milan Malpensa (MXP) and Ponta Delgada (PDL). Flights to Barcelona and Malpensa will be flown twice-daily, while Ponta Delgada sees a daily rotation. London City services will operate six times weekly, with this also being the only route that will not face any direct competition. It should be noted that Ryanair competes on all services excluding London City, although the Irish carrier does offer indirect competition to London Stansted. Vote for London City Airport’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
25-Mar Porto (OPO) Barcelona (BCN) A319 (14) Ryanair (17), Vueling (12)
London City (LCY) E190 (6)  
Milan Malpensa (MXP) A319 (14) Ryanair (4)
Ponta Delgada (PDL) A319 (7) SATA Azores Airlines (9), Ryanair (6)
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 27 March. WF = Weekly frequencies.

TAROM Timisoara

TAROM commenced its second and third domestic routes from Timisoara this week after Bucharest, with the Romanian flag carrier now linking the former city to Iasi and Cluj-Napoca. A press conference was held at Iasi Airport to celebrate the new service, with the airport also baking a classic three-tier cake for the launch.

  • TAROM opened its second and third domestic routes from Timisoara (TSR) this week, namely Cluj-Napoca (CLJ) and Iasi (IAS). The airline already links Timisoara with Bucharest. Iasi flights commenced on 25 March and will be flown four times weekly. Cluj-Napoca services were inaugurated the following day and will be operated three times weekly. No competition will be provided on either of the 504- and 211-kilometre sectors, with both scheduled to be operated by the carrier’s fleet of 68-seat ATR 72-500s based on OAG data. Vote for Iasi Airport’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote

Thai AirAsia’s new service from Bangkok Don Mueang to Chumphon commenced on 25 March. Amongst the welcoming committee at Chumphon Airport were: Wiriya Kaenkaew, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Chumphon Office; Witchunee Kuntapeng, Head of Guest Service for Thai AirAsia; Narong Polla-iad, Governor of Chumphon; Amporn Phakdee, Director of Chumphon Airport; and Thammarong Rakleng, Thai AirAsia’s Station Manager at Chumphon Airport.

  • Thai AirAsia commenced operations on a new domestic link between Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) and Chumphon (CJM) on 25 March. It will serve the 380-kilometre sector daily with A320s and faces incumbent competition in the form of Nok Air, which already provides double-daily flights on this airport pair. “AirAsia’s new route to Chumphon reiterates the advantage as the airline with the most extensive network in the Thai south with nine destinations served by 19 routes, totalling over 69 flights a day,” said Witchunee Kuntapeng, Head of Guest Service for Thai AirAsia. “The route is great for tourists as well as locals who need to travel back and forth to the province while also supporting the government’s policy of promoting secondary cities toward economic growth. AirAsia anticipates the route will be very well received.”

United Airlines Denver London

United Airlines commenced flights between Denver and London Heathrow on 24 March, a route that the Star Alliance member last operated back in October 2010. Seen at the inaugural flight event in Denver are: Michael Hancock, Denver Mayor; Steve Jaquith, VP Denver Hub, United Airlines; Kim Day, CEO Denver Airport; and Marcel Fuchs, VP Atlantic & Pacific Sales, United Airlines. The carrier will operate the airport pair daily using its 787-8s.

  • United Airlines commenced flights between Denver (DEN) and London Heathrow (LHR) on 24 March, marking a return to the route for the Star Alliance member which has not served the airport pair since October 2010. “This flight not only provides Denver and Colorado residents and businesses with more options to access London, but it also strengthens Denver’s position as a hub for transatlantic connecting passengers,” said Kim Day, CEO Denver Airport. “The UK currently ranks as Denver’s largest overseas international market, and we look forward to further market stimulation as a result of United’s new service.” As stated by Kay, this is another option for people wanting to fly between Denver and London. The 7,493-kilometre link to Heathrow is already served by British Airways daily, while Norwegian offers a low-cost option between Denver and London Gatwick, a service it currently operates three times weekly based on OAG schedules. United will utilise its 787-8s on its latest transatlantic service, a route it will operate daily. This is currently the carrier’s only direct link to Europe from its Colorado hub. 

Cutting the cake to welcome Ural Airlines as Moscow Sheremetyevo’s latest airline partner were Vladimir Khizhnyak, Director Aviation Commerce for the Russian hub and Sergey Rybanov, General Representative in Moscow for the airline. The carrier has started its operations from Russia’s busiest airport with services to Ekaterinburg, Sochi and Simferopol. A traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony was also held in the airport’s Terminal D, along with spotting by journalists and bloggers on the ramp.

  • Ural Airlines has added six new services to its network this week, but perhaps most significantly was its opening of its flight programme from Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO) to Ekaterinburg (SVX), Simferopol (AIP) and Sochi/Adler (AER) from 25 March. The longest sector is the 3,961-kilometre route from Beijing (PEK) to Krabi (KBV), whereas the shortest city pair is Sheremetyevo to Simferopol, at 1,236 kilometres. The average sector length of all six services is 3,018 kilometres, while the average frequency is 5.3 flights per week. Four of the six airport pairs will witness direct competition. Vote for Moscow Sheremetyevo’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
25-Mar Ekaterinburg (SVX) Krabi (KBV) A320 (3)  
Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO) Ekaterinburg (SVX) A320 (7) Aeroflot (56)
Simferopol (SIP) Aeroflot (42) Nordwind Airlines (14)
Sochi/Adler (AER) Aeroflot (70) Nordwind Airlines (12)
26-Mar Beijing (PEK) Krabi (KBV) A320 (3)  
St. Petersburg (LED) Frankfurt (FRA) A320 (5) Lufthansa (21)
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 27 March. WF = Weekly frequencies.

VLM Airlines Birmingham

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at Antwerp Airport to officially open VLM Airlines’ new weekday service between the Belgian city and Birmingham. Taking change of the cutting is Konstantijn Huys, Commercial Director of VLM Airlines (centre). Birmingham becomes the carrier’s second destination in the UK after London City.

VLM Airlines Birmingham

VLM Airlines returned to flying between Antwerp and Birmingham on 26 March, a route that the airline last flew in 2016. Among those at the re-launch were: Arno Visser, Marketing Manager, VLM Airlines (second left); Andrew Daines, ‎Director UK and Ireland, Visit Flanders (second right); and Tom Screen, Acting Aviation Director, Birmingham Airport (right).

  • VLM Airlines commenced flights to Birmingham (BHX) on 26 March, beginning weekday services from Antwerp (ANR). This marks a return to Birmingham for the recently-reborn airline which previously flew to the UK city from Antwerp in 2016. The 446-kilometre link will face no direct competition and will be flown on the carrier’s fleet of Fokker 50s. Birmingham is the airline’s second UK destination, with it already serving London City from Antwerp.

This week, Volotea opened its newest base at Bilbao. Already served by the airline with flights from Venice Marco Polo and Seville, the LCC introduced operations to Malaga and Malta from the Spanish airport this week. A twice-weekly sector to Vienna is planned to commence on 29 March.

The celebrations continued in Malta, where the new city pair became the first service offered by Volotea to the Mediterranean island. A fabulous three-tiered cake accompanied the launch on 24 March.

  • Volotea has opened a base at Bilbao (BIO), with the addition of two routes, one domestic and one international, to its existing two city pairs. Started 23 March, the four times weekly operation to Malaga (AGP) will face competition from Vueling (double-daily) and Air Europa (weekly). Commencing the following day, Volotea introduced a weekly (Saturdays) service to Malta (MLA). The 1,696-kilometre city pair will face no incumbent carriers. Both sectors will be flown by the LCC’s 717 fleet. Volotea already serves Bilbao from Venice Marco Polo and Seville airports. Vote for Malta Airport’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote

Wizz Air Luton

Wizz Air opened two routes from London Luton this week, namely Bari and Bratislava, with the former marking the carrier’s first route between two Western European airports. The airline will fly between Luton and Bari twice-weekly (Wednesdays and Sundays) until 20 April when the frequency increases to four times weekly. The ULCC will link Luton to Bratislava daily, with it competing indirectly against Ryanair’s 12 times weekly operation from London Stansted.

Wizz Air Athens

Having inaugurated flights between Katowice and Athens on 9 March, Wizz Air opened a further five routes to the Greek capital this week, including Bucharest, Budapest, Chisinau, Cluj-Napoca and Sofia. Flights to Kutaisi, London Luton and Vilnius will begin in the coming weeks. Seen cutting the cake in Athens, with the calorific creation symbolising the nine routes that the carrier will operate from Athens this summer, are Denis Filip, Regional Marketing Manager, Wizz Air, and Ioanna Papadopoulou, Communications and Marketing Director, Athens Airport.

Wizz Air Dortmund

Wizz Air started two routes from Dortmund this week – Lviv and Poznan. Seen greeting the airline’s crew in Dortmund to pose for a picture to promote the new routes is Guido Miletic, Head of Marketing & Sales for the German airport. Wizz Air is planning to open a further three routes from Dortmund before the end of S18, namely Iasi, Kharkiv and Olsztyn-Mazury. For W18/19, the carrier has already confirmed that it will link Dortmund to Vienna.

Wizz Air Riga

Wizz Air launched its latest route from Riga on 25 March, Kutaisi in Georgia. Posing with the route launch cake alongside Wizz Air ambassadors Niks Bērziņš and Samanta Balode is Riga Airport’s Route Development Manager Laura Audariņa. Flights will operate twice-weekly (Wednesdays and Sundays) between the two airports.

  • Wizz Air inaugurated 13 routes during the first week of the 2018 summer season, with the most notable launches being to the Greek capital – Athens (ATH). Having launched its first flight to Athens from Katowice on 9 March, this week the ULCC started flying to the historic city from Bucharest (OTP), Budapest (BUD), Chisinau (KIV), Cluj-Napoca (CLJ) and Sofia (SOF). Flights to Kutaisi, London Luton and Vilnius will launch in the coming weeks. Along with accelerating expansion from Athens, Wizz Air has also introduced two routes from its biggest airport operation – London Luton (LTN) – with the airline connecting its UK base to Bari (BRI) and Bratislava (BTS), with the former being the airline’s first route between two Western European airports based on country classification by OAG. Of the 13 routes launched by Wizz Air this week, the average weekly frequency is 3.4, while the mean sector length is 1,109 kilometres. Only four of the routes started this week will face direct competition, with all of these being sectors from Athens. Vote for either Athens or Riga’s cake in this week’s Cake of the Week Public Vote.
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
25-Mar Bucharest (OTP) Athens (ATH) A320 (7) Aegean Airlines (10), Ryanair (7), TAROM (5)
Budapest (BUD) A320 (4) Ryanair (4), Aegean Airlines (3)
Chisinau (KIV) A320 (2) Air Moldova (1)
Cluj-Napoca (CLJ)  
Sofia (SOF) A320 (7) Ryanair (7), Aegean Airlines (6), Bulgaria Air (2)
Dortmund (DTM) Lviv (LWO) A320 (2)  
London Luton (LTN) Bari (BRI)  
Bratislava (BTS) A320 (7)  
Poznan (POZ) Dortmund (DTM) A320 (4)  
Riga (RIX) Kutaisi (KUT) A320 (2)  
26-Mar Gdansk (GDN) Lviv (LWO)  
Katowice (KTW)  
Sofia (SOF) Nice (NCE)  
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 27 March. WF = Weekly frequencies.


  1. Chris says:

    You missed Air France’s return to SEA. 3x weekly (5x in high season). SEA-CDG operated with 777-300s. Compliments Delta’s daily service on the route.

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