New airline routes launched (16 October 2018 – 22 October 2018)


Norwegian Buenos Aires Aeroparque to Cordoba and Mendoza 

Norwegian Argentina

Norwegian commenced domestic operations in Argentina on 16 October, the day in which it inaugurated a twice-daily service to Cordoba along with a daily rotation to Mendoza. Seen pictured at a press conference highlighting the airline’s expansion in the South American country were Norwegian Argentina CEO Ole Christian Melhus (third right), who also captained the first flight, and Argentina’s Secretary of Tourism, Gustavo Santos (centre).

  • Norwegian added another major milestone to its history on 16 October when it commenced domestic operations in Argentina. The carrier began commercial services from its initial base at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) to Cordoba (COR) and Mendoza (MDZ). Flights on the former 650-kilometre city pair will be flown twice-daily, while the latter 978-kilometre sector will see a daily rotation. Both routes, flown using the airline’s fleet of Argentinian AOC registered 737-800s, of which it presently has two, will face head-to-head competition. Flights to Cordoba will compete with Aerolineas Argentinas (58 times weekly), LATAM Airlines (28) and Andes Lineas Aereas (11), while Mendoza services will go up against the same three airlines: Aerolineas Argentinas (40), LATAM Airlines (25) and Andes Lineas Aereas (six). Norwegian expects to add further routes to its Argentinian domestic network in the coming months. Flights to Neuquen and Puerto Iguazu are poised to begin in November, with Bariloche being served from Aeroparque as of December. Finally a route from the capital airport to Salta will be inaugurated in January.

Air India Mumbai to Frankfurt

Air India Mumbai Frankfurt

Air India launched flights between Mumbai and Frankfurt on 16 October, ending the Star Alliance member’s eight-year hiatus of serving the 6,564-kilometre sector. To celebrate the airline’s return to the city pair, the German hub baked this brilliant cake to commemorate the route opening. Pictured cutting the cake are: Divya Singh of Air India; Pratibha Parkar, Consul General India, Frankfurt; Martin Bien SEVP Ground Services, Fraport; Mukesh Bhatia, Executive Director, Commercial, Air India; Simone Schwab, Head of Airline Sales and Customer Services, Fraport; and Gagan Chhabra, GM Germany, Air India. The carrier will offer four weekly flights between Mumbai and Frankfurt using its fleet of 787-8s.

Air India Mumbai

Before Air India’s inaugural flight from Mumbai to Frankfurt left India, another celebratory event took place, with Mumbai Airport presenting this elaborate cake for passengers to enjoy at the gate before departure.

  • Air India ended its eight-year hiatus on the 6,564-kilometre route between Mumbai (BOM) and Frankfurt (FRA) on 16 October, with the Star Alliance member initiating a four times weekly 787-8-operated service. When the carrier last flew between the two cities in October 2010, it was using 777-200s and 300s on the route, offering a daily rotation. Competition on the airport pair comes from fellow Star member Lufthansa, with the German flag carrier serving the route on a daily basis. Along with this connection between Mumbai and Europe, Air India also initiated two new routes to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) this week. The airline launched a three times weekly service to the Thai capital airport from Kolkata (CCU) on 16 October, while a four time weekly rotation from Bengaluru (BLR) was introduced to the schedules the following day. Both flown using the carrier’s fleet of A320s, services on the 1,635-kilometre airport pair from Kolkata to Bangkok will go head-to-head with IndiGo (11 times weekly), SpiceJet (daily), Thai Airways (daily), Bhutan Airlines (daily) and Druk Air (three times weekly), while the 2,488-kilometre sector from Bengaluru will face Thai Airways (daily) and IndiGo (three times weekly; will commence a daily rotation later in the winter season).

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


Brussels Airlines commenced operations to Kiev Boryspil on 17 October. Among those at the launch in Ukraine were: Pavel Ryabikin, CEO, Kiev Boryspil Airport (fifth left); Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine, Volodymyr Omelyan (sixth left); Ambassador of Belgium to Ukraine, Alex Lenaerts (fifth right); and René Köinzák, General Director of Lufthansa Group in Ukraine (fourth right). The Ukrainian airport also market the carrier’s arrival with a traditional cake.

Brussels Airlines Kiev

A small ceremony was also had at Brussels Airport before passengers boarded the inaugural flight to Kiev Boryspil on 17 October, with the Belgian hub handing out chocolates and a commemorative postcard.

  • Brussels Airlines commenced operations between Brussels (BRU) and Kiev Boryspil (KBP) on 17 October, with the Star Alliance member planning to serve the 1,852-kilometre sector four times weekly in W18/19. The Belgian flag carrier will operate the route using its fleet of A319s, however for the inaugural flight, the airline used its ‘Red Devils’ A320 registered OO-SNA. Competition on the airport pair comes from Ukraine International Airlines, with the latter carrier offering nine weekly flights between the two airports according to OAG schedules, with this data also confirmed by Flightradar24.com. Brussels Airlines becomes the eighth Star Alliance member to serve Kiev Boryspil, with the others being Adria Airways, Aegean Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, LOT Polish Airlines, SWISS and Turkish Airlines.

Ernest Kiev

A cake cutting ceremony was held at Kiev Zhulyany on 19 October to celebrate the opening of Ernest’s new connection to Milan Malpensa, with the airline also initiating flights from Rome Fiumicino on the same day. Among those pictured cutting the cake at the Ukrainian capital airport was Davide Strinna, Country Manager Ukraine and Romania, Ernest (centre). With these launches, it means that the carrier now operates five routes from Italy to the Ukrainian capital.

  • Ernest launched its fourth and fifth route to Kiev Zhulyany (IEV) on 19 October, with the carrier linking to the Ukrainian capital airport from Milan Malpensa (MXP) and Rome Fiumicino (FCO). The operator will serve both 1,691- and 1,690-kilometre sectors four times weekly, with the A320s which will serve both routes conducting a Malpensa –  Zhulyany – Fiumicino – Zhulyany – Malpensa routing on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. While flights between Malpensa and the Ukrainian capital airport will face no direct competition, it should be noted that Alitalia offers a daily service from its base in the Italian capital to Zhulyany. Along with Malpensa and Fiumicino, Ernest also offers flights from Bologna, Milan Bergamo and Naples to Zhulyany. The airline confirmed on the day of the Malpensa and Fiumicino launches that it will add a sixth route to Zhulyany from 23 March, the day in which it will initiate a twice-weekly (Tuesdays and Saturdays) service from Genoa. 

Hainan Airlines introduced Vienna to its network on 20 October, launching a twice-weekly (Thursdays and Saturdays) service from Shenzhen. Pictured at the launch in the Austrian capital were: Jiu Jinchun, VP Hainan Airlines; Li Xiaosi, Chinese Ambassador to Austria; and Julian Jäger, COO of Vienna Airport. The Austrian gateway also baked an impressive cake to welcome the arrival of the Chinese carrier. The route will face no direct competition.

Hainan Airlines Chongqing

Hainan Airlines opened flights from Chongqing to Chicago O’Hare and Toronto Pearson this week, with both city pairs operating via the airline’s existing links to the North American airports from Beijing. To celebrate the opening of flights, the airline held a small celebration at Chongqing Airport which included games and giveaways.

  • Hainan Airlines has become the second Chinese carrier, after Air China, to offer flights from its home market to Vienna (VIE), with the carrier inaugurating a twice-weekly (Thursdays and Sundays) service to the Austrian capital from Shenzhen (SZX). Launched 20 October, the airline will operate the 8,661-kilometre route using its fleet of 787-8s, with no other airline linking the two airports with non-stop flights. Along with this service, Air China offers a three times weekly link from Beijing to Vienna, while Austrian Airlines offers a five times weekly service from its home base to both the Chinese capital and Shanghai Pudong. Along with opening of flights to Vienna, Hainan Airlines also expanded its route offering to North America this week, with it linking Chongqing (CKG) with Chicago O’Hare (ORD) three times weekly and Toronto Pearson (YYZ) four times weekly. Both routes have been added as tag-on services to the carrier’s existing flights to the US and Canadian airports from Beijing, with the rotations becoming operational on 16 and 17 October respectively. Neither 12,019- or 12,020-kilometre sectors are served direct by other operators, with both routes flown using Hainan Airlines’ fleet of 787-9s.

SaudiGulf Airlines Pakistan

SaudiGulf Airlines, which launched its first route to Pakistan on 15 October with flights between Dammam and Islamabad, this week initiated a further three routes from the Saudi Arabian city to the country, namely Karachi, Lahore and Sialkot. As a result of the airline’s decision to enter the Pakistan market, it will offer 14 weekly departures from Dammam to the country, with it becoming the second international nation on the airline’s route map after the UAE.

  • SaudiGulf Airlines has made Pakistan its second international country market after the UAE. Having initiated flights between Dammam (DMM) and Islamabad on 15 October, this week the airline has added a further three cities in Pakistan to its route map, namely Karachi (KHI), Lahore (LHE) and Sailkot (SKT). Lahore and Karachi flights were both inaugurated on 16 October, with the airline planning to offer four weekly flights to the former, while the latter city pair will see a three times weekly operation. The 2,451-kilometre sector to Lahore will face direct competition from flynas (five times weekly) and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) which offers a twice-weekly service. The 1,746-kilometre link to Karachi will go head-to-head with just the Pakistan flag carrier, with it offering a twice-weekly service on the latter airport pair. Sialkot services were added to schedules on 22 October, with SaudiGulf planning a three times weekly rotation on the 2,462-kilometre route. Competition on the sector to Sialkot also comes from PIA, with it presently offering a weekly (Tuesdays) rotation. All routes between Dammam and Pakistan by SaudiGulf will be operated by the carrier’s fleet of A320s, of which it presently operates four.

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