New airline routes launched (11 December – 17 December 2018)

Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa to Manchester (via Brussels)

Ethiopian Airlines Manchester

Pictured on the Ethiopian Airlines 787-8 parked at Manchester on 11 December are: Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO, Ethiopian Airlines; Tricia Williams, COO, Manchester Airport; and Jeremy Lefroy, British MP and Trade Envoy. To mark the first flight from Addis Ababa, the UK airport baked this Africa and airline-themed cake to welcome its newest carrier.

  • Ethiopian Airlines launched flights from Addis Ababa (ADD) to Manchester (MAN) and Moscow Domodedovo (DME) this week, with the Russian capital returning to the airline’s network after a 27-year hiatus. Flights on the 6,140-kilometre sector to the UK city, launched 11 December, will operate via the airline’s existing Brussels service, while the 5,161-kilometre route to Domodedovo Airport, commenced 17 December, will operate non-stop, with both airports being served by the airline’s fleet of 787-8s based on OAG schedules. Neither airport pair will face direct competition, while it should be noted that the carrier does not have traffic rights to carry passengers between Brussels and Manchester. Along with these two new European services, the Star Alliance carrier this week also commenced operations from Lome (LFW) in Togo to Los Angeles (LAX), with the African city replacing Dublin as the stop-off point between Addis Ababa and the Californian city. Flights on the latter 12,266-kilometre sector launched 17 December, with the airline having traffic rights to sell tickets between Lome and Los Angeles based on its booking engine. There will be three weekly flights on the latter sector, and there is no direct competition.

Spirit Airlines Philadelphia to Tampa 

Tampa Philadelphia

Tampa Airport once again showed its marketing prowess when it commissioned this fabulous cake to celebrate Spirit Airlines inaugural service to Philadelphia. The airport also hosted a prize wheel game and giveaways for the first flight passengers. The ULCC will offer four weekly flights on the 1,482-kilometre sector using A320s.

  • Spirit Airlines increased its route offering from Philadelphia (PHL) this week, launching flights to Southwest Florida (RSW) and Tampa (TPA). The former 1,600-kilometre sector was the first to be inaugurated, beginning on 13 December, while the 1,482-kilometre domestic link to Tampa launched the following day. Southwest Florida will be served by the ULCC from Philadelphia three times weekly using A320s, with it poised to face direct competition from American Airlines (operates the route twice-daily) and Frontier Airlines (daily). Tampa will be served by four weekly rotations, again on A320s, with the route already flown by American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines, with the trio combined presently serving the city pair with 69 weekly flights.

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

Air Arabia Prague

Air Arabia’s inaugural flight to Prague taxied onto stand with both United Arab of Emirates and Czech Republic flags flying from the cockpit windows on 11 December, with the flag waving symbolising the newest connection between the two nations. The LCC will operate the 4,466-kilometre sector five times weekly using A320s.

  • Air Arabia launched its latest European connection from Sharjah (SHJ) on 11 December, the day in which the carrier inaugurated a five times weekly service to Prague (PRG). The airline will serve the 4,466-kilometre sector using its fleet of A320s, with no other operator currently linking the UAE and Czech Republic cities. Sharjah becomes the second destination in the UAE to be connected with Prague, with Emirates, flydubai and Smartwings all offering a daily rotation between the European capital and Dubai, with the latter two airlines using 737 MAX 8s, while Emirates operates its route to Prague using A380s. From 31 May 2019, capacity between the Czech Republic and the UAE will further increase, as Emirates plans to add a second daily rotation on its Dubai – Prague service from this date, with the second daily rotation scheduled to be flown using 777-300s. 

There was a celebratory send off at Milan Malpensa on 13 December for Air Italy’s inaugural flight to Delhi. This was the carrier’s second route launch to India from Milan in the space of a week, after it began flights to Delhi on 6 December. Cutting the cake to officially launch the Mumbai connection were Andrea Tucci, VP Aviation Business Development, Milan Airports SEA and Rossen Dimitrov, COO, Air Italy.

  • Air Italy launched flights between Milan Malpensa (MXP) and Mumbai (BOM) on 13 December. This becomes the airline’s second service to India, with the carrier only adding the country to its network on 6 December with the introduction of a link from Malpensa to Delhi. The 6,505-kilometre Mumbai service will operate three times weekly using A330-200s. Rossen Dimitrov, COO, Air Italy, said: “With the opening of this fifth new international route to Mumbai, Air Italy is proud to now be providing six direct weekly flights to India. Mumbai is, together with Delhi, one of the richest and most dynamic cities of India, a truly modern and cosmopolitan city and home to the largest film industry in the world – Bollywood. Following Delhi, which we inaugurated last week on 6 December, Mumbai completes our planned five new intercontinental destinations as announced back at the start of 2018.” Andrea Tucci, VP Aviation Business Development, Milan Airports SEA, said: “The opening of the fifth long-haul flight of Air Italy confirms the growing interest of the intercontinental sector for Milan Malpensa and at the same time contributes to the enhancement of the destination portfolio we offer. With the return of flights to Mumbai after more than ten years, we further develop, thanks to Air Italy, the commercial offer and the travel opportunities to and from our catchment area.” OAG schedules show that Neos Air also serves this airport pair on certain Fridays throughout W18/19, although the frequency is irregular on occasions. These flights are not for sale on the Neos website, suggesting that they may be a series of charter operations.

Blue Air Krakow

Krakow Airport had a traditional route launch cake to celebrate the arrival of its newest airline partner Blue Air. Marking the carrier’s first ever route to Poland, the airline will offer three weekly flights on the 1,056-kilometre sector, with the carrier using a mixture of its 737-500s and 737-800s on the route, based on OAG schedules.

  • Blue Air introduced its first services to Poland on 16 December, the day in which it launched a three times weekly service from its Turin (TRN) base to Krakow (KRK). The airline will operate flights on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, with it being the only operator to serve the 1,056-kilometre sector based on OAG schedules. “We are delighted to be able to inaugurate the first flight from Turin to Krakow. By offering three flights a week, we will provide passengers travelling for business and tourism from Italy to Krakow, an attractive, year-round connection. At the same time, we cannot wait for passengers flying from Krakow to Italy to also take advantage of further connections, such as Bucharest, Paris, Lisbon, London and other attractive destinations,” said Tudor Constantinescu, CCO of Blue Air on the new connection to Poland. 

China Eastern Airlines Madrid

China Eastern Airlines launched flights between Xi’an and Madrid on 11 December, a route it will operate twice-weekly (Tuesdays and Saturdays). Pictured at the launch celebration in Madrid are: Caroline Tensi, Connectivity Manager. Madrid Destino, Madrid City Council; Antonio de la Morena, Head of Operational Planning, Strategy and Services to Tourism Sector, Tourespaña; Elena Mayoral, Director General, Madrid Airport; Dongming Qi, Director General, China Eastern Airlines in Madrid; and Wang Yingqi, Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Spain.

  • China Eastern Airlines launched its latest route between China and Europe on 11 December, with the carrier beginning flights from Xi’an (XIY) to Madrid (MAD). The airline will operate the 9,178-kilometre route twice-weekly (Tuesdays and Saturdays) using its fleet of A330-200s according to OAG schedules, with no other airline currently connecting the two cities. Xi’an becomes the second city in China to be linked to Madrid by China Eastern, with the SkyTeam carrier already offering a twice-weekly operation from Shanghai Pudong. Along with China Eastern, Air China (from Beijing), Hainan Airlines (Shenzhen) and Beijing Capital Airlines (Chengdu) are the other three Chinese airlines which serve Madrid this winter, while Iberia also links the Spanish capital with Shanghai Pudong. The European airport is also served by Cathay Pacific Airways from Hong Kong. 

Copa Airlines Salta

Copa Airlines commenced flights between Panama City and Salta in Argentina on 12 December. Among those celebrating the new route as it arrived at the airline’s newest gateway were: Carlos Eckhardt, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Salta; Christophe Didier, VP Sales, Copa Airlines; Juan Manuel Urtubey, Governor of Salta; Juan Manuel Lavallén, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sports, Salta; and Gustavo Esusy, Regional Manager Mercosur, Copa Airines.

  • Copa Airlines launched two new routes from Panama City (PTY) this week, starting on 12 December with a twice-weekly (Wednesdays and Saturdays) service to Salta (SLA) in Argentina, the Star Alliance member’s fifth gateway to the latter nation. The airline will operate the 4,059-kilometre connection using its fleet of 737-800s, with no other airline currently connecting the two cities. Along with Salta, Copa Airlines inaugurated services to Puerto Vallarta (PVR) in Mexico on 16 December. The 3,056-kilometre route to the Pacific Coast city will operate twice-weekly (Thursdays and Sundays) using the carrier’s fleet of 124-seat 737-700s. Puerto Vallarta becomes the airline’s fifth destination in Mexico to be served non-stop from Panama City according to OAG schedules. With these launches, it brings to 80 the number of routes that the airline operates from Panama City.

LATAM Airlines Tel Aviv

LATAM Airlines launched operations to Tel Aviv on 12 December. Taking part in the ribbon cutting ceremony at Sao Paulo Guarulhos Airport to open the new route to Israel were: Dori Goren, Consul General of Israel to Brazil; Yossi Shelley,  Ambassador of Israel to Brazil; Juan Ignacio Jofré, Captain, LATAM Airlines; Claudia Sender, President of LATAM Airlines Brazil & SVP Clients, LATAM Airlines; and João Pita, Head of Airlines Business, Sao Paulo Guarulhos Airport. The service, which originates in Santiago, will operate three times weekly using 787-8s based on OAG data.

LATAM Tel Aviv

A second ribbon cutting ceremony took place on arrival in Tel Aviv. Conducting the honour at the destination-end of the route were Claudia Sender, President of LATAM Airlines Brazil & SVP Clients, LATAM Airlines, and Yariv Levin, Israeli Minister of Tourism. No other airline links Tel Aviv with Sao Paulo or Santiago with non-stop services.

  • LATAM Airlines launched flights to Tel Aviv (TLV) on 12 December, commencing a three times weekly Santiago (SCL) – Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) – Tel Aviv service. No other carrier currently offers non-stop flights from the Israeli city to either Chilean or Brazilian city, with LATAM poised to use its 787-8 on the tri-city connection. Flights will leave South America on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, while return services will depart from Israel on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. This routes becomes the first non-stop connection between Tel Aviv and South America. “After years of separation and as a result of the unprecedented momentum in tourism traffic into Israel, we inaugurate the first direct flight from South America,” commented Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. “The arrival in Israel of LATAM – one of the largest carriers in South America – is a breakthrough in flight connections between Israel and Brazil, and an expression of confidence in Israel’s tourism potential. And this in light of the huge increase in incoming tourism from Latin America.” This launch also marks the carrier’s only service into the Middle East based on OAG data.

Qatar Airways Gothenburg

Among those taking part in the ribbon cutting ceremony, officially opening Qatar Airways’ new five times weekly service between Doha and Gothenburg, along with the crew were: Johanna Nord, Swedavia; Christian Deresjö, Country Manager Scandinavia, Finland & Baltic States, Qatar Airways; Simon Newton-Smith, SVP, Commercial Strategy, Qatar Airways; Charlotte Ljunggren, Director, Gothenburg Airport; Anders Söderberg, Acting CEO, Gothenburg & Co (the Gothenburg Tourist Board); and Stefan Gustavsson, Head of Public Affairs at the West Swedish Chamber of Commerce.

  • Qatar Airways introduced services from Doha (DOH) to Gothenburg (GOT) on 12 December. The 4,746-kilometre connection will be flown five times weekly on the carrier’s 787-8s, with the carrier becoming the first MEB3 member to serve Gothenburg. Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways’ Group CEO, said: “We are tremendously excited to launch direct services to the beautiful city of Gothenburg, a key new addition to our European network. This important new Nordic gateway will provide enhanced connectivity to both business and leisure travellers, and will help connect the Swedish people to our extensive global network of more than 160 destinations worldwide.” Jonaas Abrahamsson, CEO, Swedavia said: “Sweden is Scandinavia’s biggest economy and one of Europe’s strongest economies. New direct routes are an important contributing factor, as improved market connectivity is crucial for Sweden’s tourism industry, business community, and for attracting investment and know-how to the region. We are very pleased that we at Swedavia, together with our regional partners, have been able to present to Qatar Airways the large market potential in the West of Sweden, resulting in the new direct route between Gothenburg and Doha.” Gothenburg becomes the carrier’s second Swedish destination, with it already linking Doha to Stockholm Arlanda with a twice-daily service.

Sichuan Airlines, RGN

Yangon welcomed the introduction of its second new route from Sichaun Airlines in as many months on 17 December, with the Chinese carrier operating its inaugural service from Hangzhou. The latest addition will be flown three times weekly. This is the carrier’s second link to Yangon, after it introduced a connection from Xi’an in November.

  • Sichuan Airlines launched a new route from Hangzhou (HGH) to Yangon (RGN) on 17 December. It will operate the 2,873-kilometre connection three times weekly using its fleet of A320s. There is no direct competition on the airport pair. This is the Chinese carrier’s second route to Yangon, following the introduction of a new service from Xi’an in November. OAG schedules show that six airlines will offer services to seven Chinese destinations from Yangon during W18/19. Yangon claims that it is now served by 31 international airlines.

Swoop Montego Bay

Pictured at the launch of Swoop’s first flight to Montego Bay from Hamilton are: Homer Davis, Mayor of Montego Bay; Donovan White, Director of Tourism, Jamaica Tourist Board; Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism; Karen McIsaac, Senior Advisor, Communications, Swoop; Laurie Peters, Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica; and Omar Robinson; President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association. The 2,746-kilometre route will operate twice-weekly.

  • Swoop commenced its latest route from Hamilton (YHM) on 16 December, launching a twice-weekly (Wednesdays and Sundays) service to Montego Bay (MBJ). The carrier will operate the 2,746-kilometre route using its fleet of 737-800s. The airline becomes the second to offer direct flights between the two airports, with it joining Sunwing Airlines which offers a weekly seasonal service based on OAG Schedules Analyser data. Montego Bay becomes the airline’s first route from Hamilton that does not fly to either a domestic or US destination. The carrier will add two more routes from Hamilton in January, namely to Cancún and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. With these launches, it will mean that the airline will be operating 11 routes from Hamilton on either a seasonal or year-round basis.

Lviv celebrated the launch of Wizz Air’s new twice-weekly service to Frankfurt Hahn on 14 December. Tetyana Romanovska, Director General of Lviv Airport (centre) was among the dignitaries attending the launch ceremony. A Wizz Air-themed cake was also baked for the occasion. The new route will operate on Mondays and Fridays.

Wizz Air, Grenoble

On 15 December, Grenoble welcomed the arrival of Wizz Air’s first flight from London Luton. The ULCC will serve the airport pair twice-weekly (Tuesdays and Saturdays). It faces direct competition from easyJet, which also serves the route twice-weekly. The French airport baked an impressive cake to mark the launch, complete with an edible Airbus!

  • Wizz Air introduced 16 new services to its route network over the past week, including five new routes from Chisinau (KIV), four from Debrecen (DEB) and three from London Luton (LTN). All of the routes will be operated by the ULCC’s A320s. The majority will be served twice-weekly, with links from Debrecen and Pristina (PRN) to Dortmund (DTM) being the only two to be flown three times weekly. Sector lengths across Wizz Air’s latest airport pairs range from 835 kilometres on the Luton – Grenoble (GNB) link, to 2216 kilometres from Luton – Tromsø (TOS) in Norway. The average sector length across the 16 is 1,511 kilometres. Only two of the routes will face direct competition.
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition (WF)
14-Dec-18 Chisinau (KIV) Paris Beauvais (BVA) A320 (2) Air Moldova (4)
London Luton (LTN) Tromsø¸ (TOS) A320 (2)  
Lviv (LWO) Frankfurt Hahn (HHN) A320 (2)  
15-Dec-18 Chisinau (KIV) Copenhagen (CPH) A320 (2)  
Memmingen (FMM) A320 (2)  
Craiova (CRA) Brussels Charleroi (CRL) A320 (2)  
Debrecen (DEB) Dortmund (DTM) A320 (3)  
London Luton (LTN) Grenoble (GNB) A320 (2) easyJet (2)
Verona (VRN) A320 (2)  
Pristina (PRN) Dortmund (DTM) A320 (3)  
16-Dec-18 Chisinau (KIV) Brussels Charleroi (CRL) A320 (2)  
Dortmund (DTM) A320 (2)  
Cluj-Napoca (CLJ) Birmingham (BHX) A320 (2)  
Debrecen (DEB) Basel (BSL) A320 (2)  
Doncaster Sheffield (DSA) A320 (2)  
17-Dec-18 Debrecen (DEB) Barcelona (BCN) A320 (2)  
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 18 December 2018. WF = Weekly frequencies.

Xiamen Airlines Paris

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held in Paris on 11 December, marking the opening of Xiamen Airlines new three times weekly service between Fuzhou and Paris CDG. The route will face no direct competition. Paris becomes the airline’s second destination in Europe after Amsterdam, a city which it started serving back in July 2015.

  • Xiamen Airlines launched a three times weekly service between Fuzhou (FOC) and Paris CDG (CDG) on 11 December, with the French capital becoming the airline’s second destination in Europe after Amsterdam, a city which it started flying to in July 2015. The airline will operate the 9,613-kilometre route using its 787-8s, with the route currently not flown by another carrier.


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