New airline routes launched (5 March – 18 March 2019)

Pobeda Moscow Vnukovo to Ostend 

Pobeda Ostend

Pobeda introduced Ostend to its network on 7 March, the day in which it began a three times weekly service from Moscow Vnukovo. Among those at the launch included Andrey Kalmykov, CEO, Pobeda (centre), and Marcel Buelens, CEO, Ostend and Antwerp airports (fifth right). The route will be flown using the carrier’s fleet of 189-seat 737-800s, with this becoming the fourth scheduled service between Belgium and Russia, and the first outside of Brussels.

  • Pobeda launched its first flights to Belgium on 7 March, with the carrier launching a three times weekly service between Moscow Vnukovo (VKO) and Ostend (OST). The airline will operate the 2,305-kilometre airport pair using its fleet of 189-seat 737-800s, with no other carrier presently connecting the two cities. With this route launch, it brings to 20 the number of international destinations that Pobeda operates to from its largest base at Vnukovo. This route inauguration also means that there is four routes operating in the country market between Belgium and Russia, with Brussels Airlines linking its home base of Brussels with Moscow Domodedovo and St. Petersburg, while Aeroflot offers a three times daily operation between Moscow Sheremetyevo and the Belgian capital airport. It should be noted however that from 2 June, Brussels Airlines will switch its Domodedovo service to Sheremetyevo.

Southwest Airlines Oakland to Honolulu 

Southwest Airlines Honolulu

Southwest Airlines launched flights from Oakland to Honolulu on 17 March, with the former airport, recently named overall winner at the Routes Americas marketing awards, baking this incredible cake. Pictured alongside the route launch masterpiece are: Danny Akaka; Bryant Francis, Director of Aviation, Port of Oakland; Andrew Watterson, Chief Revenue Officer, Southwest Airlines; John Albrecht, Marketing Manager, Oakland Airport; and Anna Akaka.

  • Southwest Airlines launched its first-ever route to Hawaii on 17 March, with it commencing a route between Oakland (OAK) and Honolulu (HNL). The carrier, since launch, has operated the 3,870-kilometre airport pair daily using its 737-800s, with OAG Schedules Analyser data showing that the route will go to twice-daily from 24 April, with flights departing Oakland from this date at 09:10 (flight number WN 5700) and at 12:55 (WN 6569). The route is already flown by Hawaiian Airlines daily and Alaska Airlines four times weekly. Along with launching its first service to Hawaii, the carrier over the past two weeks has launched a number of new routes, with these services all seeing just a weekly frequency. More details on these routes, plus the Oakland to Honolulu link, can be seen in the table below. Overall five of the nine routes launched will face direct competition. 
Launched From To Aircraft (WF) Competition
09-Mar Cincinnati (CVG) Orlando (MCO) B73W (1) Delta Air Lines (21), Frontier Airlines (7)
Cleveland (CLE) Tampa (TPA) Spirit Airlines (7), Frontier Airlines (6), United Airlines (1)
Milwaukee (MKE) Cancún (CUN) Delta Air Lines (1)
St. Louis (STL) Montego Bay (MBJ)  
Punta Cana (PUJ) Frontier Airlines (3)
10-Mar Dallas Love Field (DAL) Harlingen (HRL)  
Palm Beach (PBI)  
Houston Hobby (HOU) Lubbock (LBB)  
17-Mar Oakland (OAK) Honolulu (HNL) B73W (7) Hawaiian Airlines (7), Alaska Airlines (4)
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 19 March. WF = Weekly frequencies.

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

Bamboo Airways

Bamboo Airways launched three domestic routes from Hanoi on 10 March, with it adding daily services to Can Tho, De Lat and Pleiku. To mark the route openings, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held at a press event which took place at Hanoi Airport. All three routes will face direct competition from at least two carriers.

  • Bamboo Airways, a recently launched airline in Vietnam which commenced scheduled operations in January, added three new domestic spokes to its Hanoi (HAN) network on 10 March, with it beginning daily services to Can Tho (VCA), De Lat (DLI) and Pleiku (PXU). All three routes are expected to be flown using the carrier’s fleet of A320s, of which it is presently operating five according to various sources. All three routes are expected to face direct competition from at least two carriers. The 1,241-kilometre route to Can Tho will go head-to-head with Vietnam Airlines (three times daily) and VietJet Air (18 times weekly), while the 835-kilometre hop to Pleiku is already flown by the same two airlines, with both offering a daily rotation. The 1,086-kilometre airport pair with De Lat will compete with three operators, with VietJet Air (18 times weekly), Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar Pacific Airlines (latter two both daily) offering a robust schedule between the two destinations. The carrier currently has 11 routes on sale from Hanoi, all of them domestic services.

Ernest Airlines Kharkiv

Ernest Airlines has made Kharkiv its third destination in Ukraine after Kiev Zhulyany and Lviv, with it adding flights from Rome Fiumicino and Milan Malpensa. In celebration, this beautiful cake was made.

  • Enrest Airlines has made Kharkiv (HKR) its third destination in Ukraine after Kiev Zhulyany and Lviv, with the Italian airline linking it with Milan Malpensa (MXP) and Rome Fiumicino (FCO). Routes that were inaugurated on 12 March, the carrier will operate a Milan Malpensa – Kharkiv – Rome Fiumicino – Kharkiv – Milan Maplensa routing three times weekly using its fleet of A320s, with both services dropping to a twice-weekly (Thursdays and Sundays) service from 28 March according to OAG schedules. Neither 2,055-kilometre sector to Rome Fiumicino or 2,100-kilometre hop to Milan Malpensa are expected to face direct competition. With these launches, Ernest now operates 11 routes between Ukraine and Italy based on its booking engine.

flydubai Hofuf

flydubai launched services between its hub and Tashkent on 11 March. Pictured disembarking the inaugural flight in Uzbekistan are Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy, and Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai. The airline will operate the 2,192-kilometre airport pair five times weekly, with it facing direct competition from Uzbekistan Airways, with the latter carrier also operating the route five times weekly using a mixture of 767-300s and A320s.

flydubai Hofuf

flydubai re-introduced Hofuf to its network on 16 March, ending a one-year hiatus for the carrier on the 589-kilometre airport pair between Dubai and the Saudi Arabian city. To celebrate the return, this cake was made.

  • flydubai has initiated two new routes from Dubai (DXB) over the past few weeks, starting on 11 March with the inauguration of services to Tashkent (TAS). The carrier will operate the 2,192-kilometre route five times weekly, with the sector already being flown by Uzbekistan Airways five times weekly, with the latter using a mixture of its 767-300s and A320s on the airport pair. flydubai’s first service was operated using 737 MAX 8s, the aircraft scheduled to fly the route, however due to recent events, this service is temporarily being flown by the airline using its 737-800s, confirmed by data. Along with Tashkent, flydubai also added Hofuf (HOF) in Saudi Arabia to its network this week. On 16 March, the carrier reinstated the 589-kilometre sector from Dubai after a one-year hiatus, with it using its 737-800s on the route. No other airline presently serves the latter airport pair according to OAG Schedules Analyser data.

Royal Brunei Airlines Tokyo Narita

Royal Brunei Airlines introduced flights to Tokyo Narita on 15 March, with it becoming the carrier’s 24th international market. As part of the route launch celebrations, Karam Chand, CEO, Royal Brunei Airlines, presented an A320 model gift to Motohiko Kato, Ambassador of Japan to Brunei. The carrier will initially operate the route three times weekly.

  • Royal Brunei Airlines launched its newest route on 15 March, beginning a three times weekly service between Bandar Seri Begawan (BWN) and Tokyo Narita (NRT). The carrier will operate the 4,302-kilometre sector using its fleet of A320s, with it planning to up the frequency to four times weekly from 3 June, with a Monday rotation joining the existing services on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. “We are delighted to welcome Tokyo as our 24th international destination and provide a capital city to capital city connection with the launch of our non-stop Bandar Seri Begawan-Tokyo Narita service,” commented Karam Chand, CEO, Royal Brunei Airlines. “This service marks a significant milestone for both Brunei and Japan, as this new route will no doubt be an enabler for tourism and trade between our beloved nations and further strengthen the strong bond that already exists. As the national airline of Brunei, we want to play our role by providing the missing link to a key market such as Japan, and be the catalyst to create more opportunities and collaborations between businesses, governments and people.” According to OAG Schedules Analyser data, the route will face no direct competition.

Thai Lion Air Nagoya

Thai Lion Air launched flights between Bangkok Don Mueang and Nagoya on 8 March, with the Japanese airport greeting the inaugural flight with a water arch salute. Flights are scheduled to be flown using 737 MAX 9s, as confirmed by this image of the inaugural flight. However, since the MAXs grounding, the route is being operated by the carrier using its fleet of 737-800s, with the airport pair measuring a span of 4,303 kilometres.

  • Thai Lion Air launched its latest route from Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) on 8 March, with it beginning a five times weekly service to Nagoya (NGO). The airline is scheduled to operate the 4,303-kilometre sector using its 737 MAX 9s, the aircraft type which was used on the first four rotations of this five times weekly service. However, since the grounding of the MAX type, the carrier has been serving the route using its 737-800s. The airport pair is already served by Thai AirAsia X, with it offering a daily rotation between the two airports using its fleet of A330-300s according to OAG Schedules Analyser data, with it having served the route since 29 October 2018.

United Airlines Sonoma County

United Airlines launched services between Denver and Santa Rosa on 8 March, with the Californian airport hosting a small gate celebration to herald the new service. The Star Alliance member will serve the route daily.

  • United Airlines launched its newest route from Denver (DEN) on 8 March, with the carrier initiating a daily service to Santa Rosa (STS) in California. The Star Alliance member will serve the 1,566-kilometre airport pair daily using its fleet of CRJ 200s. No other airline presently operates between the two US airports. This becomes United’s second route to Santa Rosa, with it already serving the airport from San Francisco. In 2018, a reported 440,644 passengers travelled through Santa Rosa Airport, with this representing an 11% increase versus 2017 when 397,787 people used the facility. In total, the airport has non-stop service to 10 destinations by four airlines, with the other three serving operators being Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Sun Country Airlines. An 11th destination will be added in June, with American starting flights from Dallas/Fort Worth.  

Wizz Air Ohrid

Wizz Air launched flights between Ohrid and Malmö on 18 March, with the former airport baking this bright cake to mark the new service. The route launch showstopper also depicted the carrier’s new route to Milan Malpensa which launched the following day. The 1,683-kilometre route to Sweden will be flown twice-weekly using A320s.

  • Wizz Air launched flights from Ohrid (OHD) to Malmö (MMX) on 18 March. The carrier will operate the 1,683-kilometre route twice-weekly (Mondays and Fridays), with no other airline presently serving the airport pair. The sector will be operated by the carrier’s fleet of A320s according to OAG Schedules Analyser data. The next route inauguration from Ohrid for the airline took place the following day, with the 19 March being the date in which it commenced a twice-weekly (Tuesdays and Saturdays) service to Milan Malpensa, a route which too faces no direct competition. With these launches, it brings to five the number of routes that the ULCC operates from Ohrid. A further two routes to Dortmund and Memmingen are expected to launch in July according to the carrier’s booking engine, with neither of these destinations being flown to by other operators at present.


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