New airline routes launched (4 December – 10 December 2018)


WOW air Reykjavik/Keflavik to Delhi

WOW air Reykjavik/Keflavik to Delhi

WOW air launched flights to Delhi on 6 December, with Reykjavik/Keflavik Airport baking this outstanding Taj Mahal-themed cake to mark the inaugural service. Pictured with the first flight crew alongside the showstopper before departure are T. Armstrong Changsan, Ambassador of India to Iceland, and Skúli Mogensen, CEO, WOW air.

  • WOW air initiated the first-ever scheduled non-stop connection between Iceland and Asia on 6 December, the day in which it began a three times weekly service from Reykjavik/Keflavik (KEF) to Delhi (DEL). Operated using the airline’s A330-300s, the 7,625-kilometre route becomes the airline’s longest sector based on OAG data. “To date, Keflavik Airport has only had direct flights to Europe and North America. With 27% of international visitors to Iceland coming from destinations outside of these regions, and with this market having grown by 11% during the first nine months of 2018, it is great to see WOW air expanding Keflavik’s global reach with non-stop flights to Delhi,” commented Hlynur Sigurdsson, Commercial Director, Isavia, on the route opening. Adding further information, Sigurdsson stated: “We also understand that these flights not only bring a direct connection to Asia, but we know too of the important cultural and strong relations between India and North America. With this being the only low-cost option for passengers between these two global regions, we are happy to support WOW air in offering a new travel option to the six million passengers that fly between the two regions each year.”

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


Air India Mumbai

Air India restored non-stop flights between Mumbai and New York JFK on 7 December, a route that it last operated in October 2010. Among those cutting the cake in Mumbai, baked to celebrate the inaugural departure to the Big Apple, was Mukesh Bhatia, Regional Director, Air India (second left). Flights will operate three times weekly.

  • Air India has returned to the Mumbai (BOM) to New York JFK (JFK) route after an eight-year hiatus. On 7 December it commenced a three times weekly service on the 12,525-kilometre sector, a route it last flew in October 2010 when it offered a daily rotation. Facing no direct competition, although it should be noted that United Airlines links the Indian city with New York Newark, Air India will serve the airport pair of Mumbai and JFK using its fleet of 342-seat 777-300s. Flights to JFK will leave Mumbai at 01:00 on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, while return services will leave JFK at 11:05, landing back in Mumbai at 00:10 the following morning. OAG Traffic Analyser data shows that around 62,000 passengers travelled directly between Mumbai and New York Newark in 2017. However, the total size of the market between the two cities was 131,700 people, with over 69,000 still choosing to travel between the two airports via another point.

Air Italy Delhi

Air Italy inaugurated flights between Milan Malpensa and Delhi on 6 December. Seen cutting the route launch cake at the Italian airport are Aldo Schmid, Aviation Marketing and Traffic Rights Manager, SEA Aeroporti Milan, and Rossen Dimitrov, COO, Air Italy. Based on OAG schedules, the route will initially be operated three times weekly.

Air Italy Delhi

On arrival in India, a second cake cutting ceremony was conducted. Pictured conducting the honour in Delhi are  Rossen Dimitrov, COO, Air Italy, and Jitendra Singh, VP & Head of Airline Marketing & Route Development, Delhi Airport. The carrier will operate flights between Milan and Delhi using its A330-200s based on OAG data.

  • Air Italy introduced India to its network on 6 December, the day which saw the carrier inaugurate flights between Milan Malpensa (MXP) and Delhi (DEL). The carrier will operate the 6,156-kilometre route three times weekly using A330-200s, with services leaving Milan on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, while return sectors will depart Delhi on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Delhi-originating passengers will also be able to connect onto eight destinations via Milan, including Catania, Lamezia Terme, Miami, Naples, New York JFK, Olbia, Palermo and Rome Fiumicino, based on the carrier’s booking engine. While these connections are live, the airline is reportedly looking at partnering with an Indian carrier to further strength its reach in Asia. “We are in the final stages of discussions with Vistara for a code-share agreement on their flights, which will provide us connectivity to other cities in the country,” stated Rossen Dimitrov, COO of Air Italy, at a press conference discussing the new route. Competition on the route between Milan and Delhi comes from Air India, with the latter airline already offering a four times weekly service using 787-8s.

AirAsia X, Melbourne Avalon

Melbourne Avalon celebrated the arrival of its first international flight on 5 December, with AirAsia X transferring its Kuala Lumpur service across from Melbourne’s main (Tullamarine) airport. Welcoming the first arrival on the tarmac, flanked by the inaugural crew, were: Andrew Goledzinowski, Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia; Nadda Buranasiri, Group CEO AirAsia X; Benyamin Ismail, CEO AirAsia X Malaysia; David Fox, Executive Chairman Linfox Airports; and Justin Giddings, CEO Avalon Airport. Flights on the sector will be flown twice-daily using A330-300s.

  • AirAsia X commenced double-daily services between Kuala Lumpur (KUL) and Melbourne Avalon (AVV) on 4 December. It will operate the 6,307-kilometre route using its A330-300s facing no direct competition. This airport pair replaces the low-cost, long-haul operator’s previous service to Melbourne’s main airport, otherwise know as Tullamarine. Indirect competition will come from Malaysia Airlines and Malindo Air which offer 14 and seven weekly flights respectively between Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne. The AirAsia X service becomes Melbourne Avalon’s first international connection, with the airport officially opening its new international terminal in the week leading up to the route launch. Nadda Buranasiri, CEO AirAsia X Group, said of the launch: “The arrival of AirAsia X Flight D7 218 at the state-of-the-art new low-cost carrier terminal at Melbourne Avalon signifies a new era for travellers and for the AirAsia Group in Australia. This purpose-built, no-frills facility has today become one of the most important international hubs AirAsia flies to outside of Southeast Asia.” Benyamin Ismail, CEO, AirAsia X Malaysia, added: “After more than a decade of flying operations and millions of passengers to/from Melbourne Tullamarine, our move to Melbourne’s Avalon Airport will provide Australian guests with the opportunity to travel at great value fares to more than 130 destinations in our network throughout Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the US (Hawaii). This includes Australian favourites such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, India and Japan.”

Cebu Pacific Air, Cebu

There were celebrations in Cebu on 7 December as Cebu Pacific Air launched its new four times weekly service to Macau. Cutting the ceremonial launch cake to mark the occasion were: Shalimar Tamano, Regional Director, Dept of Tourism Region 7; Steve Dicdican, GM Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority; Blessie Cruz, Marketing Director, Cebu Pacific; and Aines Librodo, Head of Airline Marketing, GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation.

  • Cebu Pacific Air introduced scheduled services between Cebu (CEB) and Macau (MFM) on 7 December. The Philippines-based LCC will operate the 1,717-kilometre sector four times weekly using its A320 aircraft. There is no direct competition on the sector. Cebu Pacific now operates three routes to Macau, with the carrier already offering links from Manila and Clark. OAG Schedules Analyser data shows that the LCC will offer 16 destinations from Cebu during W18/19, with five of these being international links.

China Eastern Airlines Gatwick

China Eastern Airlines added London Gatwick to its network on 7 December, launching a three times weekly service from Shanghai Pudong, with the airline becoming the UK airport’s sixth Asian and Middle Eastern operator. Pictured at the launch celebration at Gatwick are Guy Stephenson, CCO, London Gatwick Airport, and Kevin Li, GM UK & Ireland, China Eastern Airlines. With this launch there will be 27 weekly flights between London and Shanghai in W18/19.

  • China Eastern Airlines launched flights to London Gatwick (LGW) from Shanghai Pudong (PVG) on 7 December, the airline’s second route from China’s financial centre to the UK capital, with it already serving London Heathrow daily. The airline will operate to Gatwick three times weekly on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays using A330-200s, with the SkyTeam carrier poised to face no direct competition on the 9,249-kilometre sector. “With China being one of the UK’s main trading partners, this is a vital business route connecting two of the world’s most important cities – but Shanghai is equally an exciting and much sought-after tourist destination. We’re pleased to welcome China Eastern to Gatwick for the first time and are delighted that our passengers now have direct access to everything that China’s largest city has to offer,” commented Guy Stephenson, CCO of London Gatwick on the arrival of its newest long-haul airline. Along with China Eastern, both British Airways (10 times weekly) and Virgin Atlantic (daily) link Heathrow with Shanghai, meaning that with this latest route, there will be 27 weekly flights between London and Shanghai. For Gatwick, Shanghai becomes its second route to mainline China after Chengdu which is served by Air China. The airport is also served by China Airlines from Taipei Taoyuan, while the airport is linked to Hong Kong courtesy of Cathay Pacific Airways. Along with these airlines, Gatwick is also served by Emirates and Qatar Airways from their respective hubs of Dubai and Doha, meaning that in total Gatwick is served by six Asian and Middle Eastern operators.

easyJet Gibraltar

Among those posing with the crew to celebrate the inaugural flight between London Luton and Gibraltar on 4 December are Nicholas Guerrero, CEO, Gibraltar Tourist Board and Terence Lopez, Air Terminal Director, Gibraltar International Airport. easyJet will operate the 1,790-kilometre route twice-weekly (Tuesdays and Saturdays).

  • easyJet launched five new routes from four bases between 4 and 10 December, with one of the more significant services being between London Luton (LTN) and Gibraltar (GIB), a route which has not been flown since the demise of Monarch Airlines over 14 months ago. “We’re delighted to have operated the first flight of this new service and to be increasing our services from Gibraltar. This is a fourth UK service to our network from the airport and we continue to see an increased number of travellers looking to fly with easyJet on our Gibraltar routes,” commented Ali Gayward, UK Country Manager, easyJet on the new service. The airline also operates to the airport from Bristol, London Gatwick and Manchester. As well as this service, the airline has also added two routes from Bristol (BRS), and one each from Manchester (MAN) and Berlin Tegel (TXL) to Innsbruck (INN). On a side note, it should be reported that easyJet’s inaugural service between Bristol and Åre Östersund (OSD) was diverted to Stockholm Arlanda due to bad weather. While only one of the routes currently faces direct competition during the first week of operation, the link between Bristol and Sofia (SOF) will see LCC rival Ryanair start services from 22 December. 
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition (WF)
04-Dec London Luton (LTN) Gibraltar (GIB) A319 (2)  
08-Dec Bristol (BRS) Sofia (SOF) A32S (2)  
09-Dec Åre Östersund (OSD) A320 (1)  
Manchester (MAN) Innsbruck (INN) A319 (1) Flybe (1), TUI Airways (1), Thomas Cook Airlines (1)
10-Dec Berlin Tegel (TXL) A320 (4)  
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 11 December 2018. WF = Weekly frequencies.

Frontier Airlines Cleveland

Cleveland commissioned this fantastic beach-themed cake to celebrate the launch of Frontier Airlines’s new service to Sarasota in Florida. The ULCC will operate the route twice-weekly (Mondays and Fridays).

  • Frontier Airlines commenced four new routes between 6-10 December, with the quartet of new city pairs all involving an airport in Florida, with three connecting with Sarasota (SRQ), while the other is a new service from Orlando (MCO). Only one of the four services is poised to face direct competition, with that being the route between Atlanta (ATL) and Sarasota which is already flown by Delta Air Lines, with the SkyTeam member offering 34 weekly flights on the 716-kilometre connection. The average sector length of the four routes is 1,424 kilometres.
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition (WF)
06-Dec Orlando (MCO) Portsmouth (PSM) A320 (3)  
10-Dec Atlanta (ATL) Sarasota (SRQ) Delta Air Lines (34)
Philadelphia (PHL) A320 (2)  
Sarasota (SRQ) Cleveland (CLE) A321 (2)  
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 11 December 2018. WF = Weekly frequencies.

Vijayawada welcomed its first international route in four years on 4 December, when IndiGo began services to Singapore. Among the dignitaries taking part in the ceremonial cake cutting were Virender Singh, CEO, Andhra Pradesh Airports Development Corporation Ltd (first left) and Ajay Jain, IAS Principal Secretary, Energy, I&I (third left). There was also a traditional lamp-lighting ceremony.

  • IndiGo launched its first international link form Vijayawada (VGA) on 4 December, when it began a new service to Singapore (SIN). The LCC will operate the 3,046-kilometre connection twice-weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays using its A320s. There is no direct competition on the route. William Boulter, CCO IndiGo said: “We feel absolutely privileged to be the first domestic airline to launch international services from Vijayawada in association with the Government of Andhra Pradesh. These twice-weekly, non-stop services between Vijayawada and Singapore will further augment our regional connectivity.” IndiGo already operates five daily non-stop flights between India and Singapore, with twice-daily services from Chennai, and daily links from each of Bengaluru, Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram. The LCC will also operate four domestic connections from Vijayawada during W18/19.

Laudamotion, Düsseldorf

Düsseldorf welcomed the arrival of Laudamotion’s first service from Innsbruck on 8 December. Joining the inaugural flight crew to mark the occasion was Florian Bongard, Manager Airline Marketing, Düsseldorf Airport. Flights will operate twice-weekly on Saturdays and Sundays until 30 March, coinciding with the peak ski season.

  • Laudamotion launched three new services from Innsbruck (INN) in the past week to tie-in with the start of the peak ski season, with the carrier commencing flights from the Austrian airport to Dublin (DUB), and Düsseldorf (DUS) on 8 December, plus a link to London Stansted (STN) on 9 December. The 1,418-kilometre connection to Ireland and the 950-kilometre link to London will both be operated weekly, with Dublin flown on Saturdays and Stansted Sundays. The 557-kilometre route to Düsseldorf will operate twice-weekly on Saturdays and Sundays. All three routes will be operated by A320s, although some of the Düsseldorf sectors may be flown using 737-800s. None of the three routes currently face direct competition, although TUI Airways will begin flying between Stansted and Innsbruck weekly from 22 December. All three of Laudamotion’s new routes are seasonal and will operate into late March. These are the only three routes the LCC will operate from Innsbruck in W18/19, according to OAG schedules.

Philippine Airlines Manila Sapporo

Philippine Airlines launched flights between Manila and Sapporo Chitose on 7 December, with the latter becoming the airline’s sixth route to Japan from the Philippines capital. Pictured posing with the inaugural flight crew and the classic route launch cake, highlighting that the sector will be flown using A321neos, are Koji Haneda, Ambassador of Japan to the Philippines, and Jaime Bautista, President & COO, Philippine Airlines. No other operator serves the route.

  • Philippine Airlines launched its sixth route to Japan from Manila (MNL) on 7 December, inaugurating a three times weekly link to Sapporo Chitose (CTS). The carrier will operate the 3,710-kilometre sector on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with the route poised to be flown using the airline’s A321neos based on Flightradar24.com data. No other carrier presently links the Philippines capital with Sapporo Chitose. Along with this new route, the airline also links Manila to Fukuoka, Nagoya, Osaka Kansai, plus Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita airports. According to OAG Traffic Analyser data, just over 21,000 passengers travelled indirectly between Manila and Sapporo Chitose in 2017, a rise of 6.2% versus the 19,700 passengers that flew between the two airports in 2016.

Qatar Airways Mombasa

Qatar Airways launched flights to Mombasa on 9 December, with it becoming the airline’s second destination in Kenya after Nairobi, and its 21st to the continent. Cutting the ribbon at the launch were: Jimmy Kibati, GM Marketing & Business Development, Kenya Airports Authority (fourth left); William Kingi, County Government of Mombasa Deputy Governor (fifth left); and Captain Jassim Al-Haroun, Chief Flight Operations Officer, Qatar Airways (sixth left).

  • Qatar Airways has made Mombasa (MBA) its 21st African destination, with the carrier beginning a four times weekly service to the Indian Ocean city from Doha (DOH). Launched 9 December, the airline will operate the 3,502-kilometre link using its fleet of A320s, with no other airline presently operating between the two airports. “Today’s inaugural flight to the beautiful coastal city of Mombasa marks further growth and strengthening bonds between the State of Qatar and Kenya. We are thrilled to be the first Middle East airline to offer direct flights to Mombasa, our second gateway into Kenya,” commented Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways. Along with Mombasa, the carrier already serves Nairobi in Kenya, while its other African destinations include Addis Ababa, Algiers, Casablanca, Cape Town, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti City, Durban, Entebbe, Johannesburg, Khartoum, Kigali, Kilimanjaro, Lagos, Maputo, Marrakech, Seychelles, Tunis, Windhoek and Zanzibar.    

Sichuan Airlines commenced operations between Chengdu and Copenhagen on 10 December. Cutting the ribbon to officially open the route were: Li Guang, GM, Sichuan Airlines; Thomas Woldbye, Group CEO, Copenhagen Airports; and Deng Ying, Chinese Ambassador to Denmark. Flights will operate twice-weekly (Mondays and Fridays).

  • Sichuan Airlines launched its latest route to Europe on 10 December, the day which saw it begin a twice-weekly (Mondays and Fridays) service between Chengdu (CTU) and Copenhagen (CPH). The airline will operate the 7,321-kilometre sector using its fleet of A330-300s, with no other carrier presently linking the Danish and Chinese cities. “Every time Denmark is better connected with new markets, our trade increases. Aviation’s contribution to the Danish economy is steadily increasing, and the new route from Chengdu will in future increase Danish GDP by approximately NOK 175 million annually,” commented Thomas Woldbye, Group CEO, Copenhagen Airports on the arrival of its newest Chinese airline. Along with Sichuan Airlines, Copenhagen Airport also welcomed a new Chinese carrier back in May, when Air China commenced operations from Beijing. Along with Copenhagen, the carrier also serves Moscow Sheremetyevo, Prague and St. Petersburg in Europe this winter from Chengdu, based on OAG schedules. 

WestJet Saskatoon

WestJet launched operations between Saskatoon and Orlando on 7 December, with the Canadian airport celebrating the launch of flights to the home of Disneyland Resort with cupcakes decorated in some of Disney’s most recognisable characters. The carrier will operate the 3,368-kilometre route weekly throughout the winter season.

  • WestJet launched its latest transboarder connection on 7 December, with the carrier beginning a weekly (Fridays) service between Saskatoon (YXE) and Orlando (MCO). The carrier will operate the route as a w-pattern from the Floridian airport according to Flightradar24.com data, with the airline poised to use 737-700s on the 3,368-kilometre sector. Services will depart Orlando at 09:00, arriving in Saskatoon at 11:59, while return services will leave the Canadian airport at 14:30, touching down back in Orlando at 19:50 local time. No other carrier connects the two airports with non-stop flights. WestJet will operate the weekly service until 26 April, while the route is expected to return for W19/20, with OAG Schedules Analyser data already showing the route returning on 6 December next year. Situated in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon Airport handled over 1.46 million passengers in 2017. Along with Orlando in the US, Saskatoon supports flights to Las Vegas and Phoenix with WestJet, while Delta Air Lines offers regular rotations to its hub at Minneapolis-St. Paul. 

New route? New airline? Email us! Let's all celebrate your new routes. Please send photos and route details to James Davis, anna.aero's Assistant Editor. Contact James.

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