Unserved Route of the Week success rate continues to climb; over one in four routes featured are now served

Our continued cooperation with Skyscanner, the leading flight comparison site, has now seen 27 of the 99 Unserved Route of the Week city pairs featured being picked up by 26 different airlines, and ranging from flag carriers to ULCCs. As a result, our success rate has risen from 16% in April 2017, to 22% in August, and now 27%. What other piece of route development data analysis can boast such a fantastic ROI?

For those of you still bizarrely unaware of this ground-breaking feature, Unserved Route of the Week (UROTW) draws on the aspirational data captured from Skyscanner’s leading flight comparison site which has more than 70 million unique visitors every month. Based on Skyscanner’s cutting edge Travel Insight big data solution, the feature identifies market route demand for routes currently unserved by the industry, but for which there lies a substantial commercial opportunity. 

Last year we twice looked at which of the unserved route opportunities we had featured had been gladly swept up by the world’s airlines to become part of their respective networks. In April our success rate was a credible 16%, by August last year the number of potential routes which we have covered and subsequently adopted by carriers has risen to 15, from the 67 potential city pairs featured so far – a 22% success rate. Taking the opportunity to review this feature again as we close in on 100 UROTWs reveals that our success rate has improved again, with 27% of all routes covered either served or to be served. We firmly believe that out of any data sources which are available to airport business development managers in the market, none of them have a hit rate as impressive as that!

Going to prove that these new route opportunities have been widely received, 26 different airlines are now flying or are planning to operate these fledgling city pairs. SAS leads the way, having put its name next to four of the UROTWs. In addition, LOT Polish Airlines and Ryanair have commenced operations on two city pairs each. N.B. The recently launched routes below are listed in terms of when they were revealed by our data elves in this feature as having market potential, and not their actual start date.

Launched – Copenhagen to Hong Kong by Cathay Pacific Airways on 2 May 2018

Skyscanner unserved route is Copenhagen to Hong Kong

When we last did this feature in August 2017, the Copenhagen to Hong Kong route had not been announced – so we couldn’t include it in our impressive success rate statistics. This was frustrating as just a couple of weeks later Cathay Pacific Airways clarified its intentions to serve the city pair on a seasonal basis three times weekly from the following May. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! This coming winter will also see SAS take flight on the airport pairing.

Launched – Beijing to Brisbane by Air China on 11 December 2017

Unserved Route Of The Week - Beijing to Brisbane

Air China started this route last December with a four times weekly operation. This was the sixth-ever Unserved Route of the Week unearthed by the anna.aero data elves way back in March 2016. Five of the first six unserved opportunities now have regular scheduled flights, with the last of the first half dozen, namely from Amsterdam to Las Vegas, attracting three flights in January this year and five in January 2019 (to be operated by Delta Air Lines and KLM), to facilitate travellers wishing to get from the Netherlands to Nevada for a big annual convention. The demand is clearly there, surely it needs to be served year-round??

Launched  Tenerife North to Lisbon by BinterCanarias on 29 October 2017

Lisbon-Tenerife is Skyscanner “Unserved Route of the Week”

Flown by a 100-seat CRJ 1000 twice-weekly (Thursdays and Sundays), Spanish regional carrier BinterCanarias was the first airline to make a move on this 1,323-kilometre sector. It is interesting to note that earlier this month on 2 July this route was joined by an Evelop Airlines service, which began a seasonal weekly operation on the different airport pair of Tenerife South to Lisbon.

Launched – Bergen to Hamburg by SAS on 25 June 

Bergen-Hamburg is "Skyscanner Unserved Route of the Week” with 30,000 annual searches; Eurowings' next Norwegian city?

I bet that SAS was hoping that once it had announced its intention of starting a Bergen to Hamburg link in October 2017 for launch in the following June that it would have this tempting market to itself. Little did it know that two months later in December that its competitor in the Norwegian market Widerøe announced its own service between the two cities, starting in August 2018. Ho-hum, we knew it had potential!!

Launched – Warsaw Chopin to Nuremberg by LOT Polish Airlines on 7 May

Albrecht Dürer’s house in Nuremberg. The Renaissance painter (1471-1528) lived in a picturesque house which not totally unlike some of the UNESCO World Heritage sites more recently frequented by Warsaw’s favourite son (and Poland's greatest composer) Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) who could often by seen on Krakowskie Przedmieście or Miodowa streets.

Part of the recent and ongoing network expansion by LOT Polish Airlines included a route opportunity which was identified by anna.aero in January 2017, from its hub at Warsaw Chopin to the German regional airport of Nuremberg. The Star Alliance carrier added its seventh German destination to its portfolio in May, flying an intensive 12 times weekly operation with its E170 fleet.

More routes to be launched soon

In addition to the Unserved Route of the Week sectors which have now commenced operations like those above, there are some routes which have been announced and are waiting for launch later this year.

To be launched – Helsinki to Lyon by Finnair on 11 December 2018

Lyon-Helsinki is Skyscanner “Unserved Route of the Week”

This was the 22nd Unserved Route of Week which we featured just over two years ago in July 2016. Finnair is one of 23 full-service carriers which has absorbed the Skyscanner aspirational traveller data on a potential connection and has turned that data into a meaningful route launch. The oneworld stalwart will fly to the French second city twice-weekly on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

To be launched – Los Angeles to Buenos Aires on 19 December 2018

Los Angeles-Buenos Aires is Skyscanner “Unserved Route of the Week”

Its not like us to miss an opportunity to blow our own trumpet, but we clearly did with this one, as it was our friendly reader Tommy who noticed that we had missed the Los Angeles to Buenos Aires Ezeiza route from this roll call (now hastily added). American Airlines will be starting a three times weekly 787-9-operated service from La La Land to South America from this December.

To be launched – Manchester to Mumbai by Jet Airways on 5 November 2018

Jet Airways has announced it will begin flying to Manchester from Mumbai on 5 November. The four times weekly service will be flown by the airline’s 254-seat A330-200 fleet. Manchester Airport CEO Andrew Cowan, pictured here (right) with Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal said: “Securing a direct service to one of India’s major cities is the product of a lot of hard work over a long period of time to forge closer ties between Manchester and this globally significant economy. We have worked, along with a range of partners, to create a compelling case for why our city – and the wider North – is a great place to visit, invest in and do business with.” No mention of anna.aero covering this as an Unserved Route of the Week opportunity back in April last year then.

To be launched – Zurich to Colombo by Edelweiss Air on 3 November 2018

We certainly thought that this opportunity was a sweet deal, and clearly so did Edelweiss Air, as it intends to launch a twice-weekly A340-300-operated service in November. The Swiss leisure carrier will fly the city pair on Thursdays and Saturdays. It already flies to Male, Phuket and Ho Chi Minh City in Asia.

To be launched – Edinburgh to Dubai by Emirates on 1 October 2018

One thing that we will never know about the MEB3 carrier’s decision to launch this service later this year is whether it was linked to fact that Etihad Airways will be cancelling its service to Scottish capital city from Abu Dhabi just 16 days earlier in September. While network planners scratch their heads on that one, we are happy to take the credit for Emirates coming to its senses and starting this service once they had received the Skyscanner data on the city pair.

To be launched – Tampere to Malaga by SAS on 13 October 2018

When looking at OAG schedules data, apparently Primera Air Nordic flew this 3,372-kilometre sector as a one-off service in October 2017. This was clearly just warming the route up for SAS, which will use a mixture of its 737-800 and A320 fleets on the service. We thought that Finnair or Ryanair would be the most likely carriers to take on this route, so we don’t get everything right!!

Another point to make is the fact that Aeromexico announced its intention to start flying between Mexico City and Barcelona – an UROTW we featured in December 2017 – in May this year, only for the planned three times weekly service to be cancelled before it was due to launch in November this year. And you can bet your bottom dollar…we are still claiming that one!! There were also two potential sectors, Gold Coast to Seoul and Bologna to Tel Aviv, which have had some flying action. The former route received two Jin Air flights in April this year, while the Italy-Israel pairing witnessed two flights by Neos in March 2018. Analysis of OAG schedules also indicates that Iraqi Airways offers services between Malmö and London Gatwick, another UROTW, however according to the airline’s website passengers cannot book this sector.

Some former Unserved Routes of the Week now served by two carriers!

On the Copenhagen-Hong Kong route, on which Cathay Pacific Airways started a three times weekly operation on 2 May, will be joined by SAS on 28 October this year with a five times weekly A340-300 service. Similarly while Korean Air started its Barcelona-Seoul Incheon three times weekly operation in April 2017, Asiana Airlines will begin the same city pair on 30 August, on a four times weekly basis. These are in addition to the Tenerife North to Lisbon and Bergen to Hamburg sectors which were identified above as now having more than one serving carrier, having previously both been an UROTW.

Still some unserved whoppers out there…

While many of our Unserved Route of the Week services may have been snapped up already, there is still ample opportunity to capitalise on some of the routes Skyscanner data has exposed that currently remain unserved. Here are a few of the biggest ones still crying out to be served:

  • London – Kochi: with over 1.4 million searches from the UK capital to this Indian city in the past 12 months, this route is a great opportunity for whichever airline grabs it;

  • Barcelona – Bangkok: Spain’s city of culture to the Thai capital is a tempting offer with over 1.1 million searches annually – according to Skyscanner data;

  • Amsterdam – Ho Chi Minh City: when we did this UROTW a year ago, it identified that over 530,000 travellers wanted this link. Despite all this undeniable demand the potential city pair is still free to serve;

  • Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen – Manchester: While Turkish Airlines might be offering close to 2,900 weekly one-way seats on its double-daily operation into Manchester from Istanbul Atatürk, we still think there is some substantial unserved demand on the other side of the Bosporus (440,000 searches);

  • Delhi – Auckland: Unsurprisingly we tipped that either or Air New Zealand or Air India should contemplate operating this route, which was searched for by 420,000 travellers in 12 months. Still no dice however!!

You can check out the latest opportunities by visiting our weekly feature. Want to find out more about the cutting edge product behind the stories, Travel Insight?


  1. Tommy says:

    You forgot about LAX-Buenos Aires, which was profiled in July 2016. https://www.anna.aero/2016/07/20/los-angeles-buenos-aires-skyscanner-unserved-route-of-the-week/

    American Airlines will begin service between both cities in December 2018, with three weekly flights. https://liveandletsfly.boardingarea.com/2018/03/28/american-airlines-los-angeles-buenos-aires/

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