New airline routes launched (24 September – 01 October)
FlyBosnia Sarajevo to London Luton
- On 24 September, FlyBosnia launched three-weekly flights between Sarajevo (SJJ) and London Luton (LTN). No other carrier currently serves the route – which will be operated by a 138-seat A319 on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays – leaving Sarajevo at 07:15 and arriving in Luton at 08:45. Tarik Bilalbegovic, CEO FlyBosnia said at the launch: “It is a great pleasure for me to be here today on the occasion of our inaugural flight from London to Sarajevo. FlyBosnia has ambitious plans for expansion and London is a key destination for us, as our first European destination – other European cities will be following closely behind”.
The rest of this week’s new routes (A – Z by airline)
- Air Albania has added an additional aircraft to its Tirana (TIA) base, and launched flights to Rome Fiumicino (FCO), Bologna (BLQ) and Milan Malpensa (MXP) on 30 September. The start-up, launched in 2018, currently uses an A319 and 737-800, wet-leased from Turkish Airlines, as it has not yet obtained an EASA operating certificate. According to OAG Schedules Analyser, Alitalia, Blue Panorama and Ernest Airlines currently operate to Rome; whilst Blue Panorama and Ernest Airlines serve Bologna and Milan Malpensa.
Virgin Atlantic on 25th September commenced daily operations between London Heathrow (LHR) and Tel Aviv Ben Gurion (TLV). According to OAG Schedules Analyser, the route will be operated using the carrier’s 266-seat A330-300s, in a three-class configuration.
Taking a closer look at Heathrow to Tel Aviv, British Airways has consistently had a higher per passenger revenue, and average fare, on the route than El Al.
As such, despite El Al having 47% higher annual traffic volumes (350,000 passengers vs 237,000 in 2018), total passenger revenue is only 32% higher (USD$115,000,000 vs $87,000,000). This reflects BA’s higher proportion of premium seats on the route.
It will be interesting to see how Virgin Atlantic positions itself between these traditional flag carriers – especially as in the coming months both incumbents will be deploying next generation aircraft. British Airways will add 331-seat A350-1000s from December, and El Al has recently started deploying 282-seat 787-9s to Heathrow. Low-cost rivals are also gaining market share rapidly, with all operators between London and Tel Aviv shown below:
|Carrier||Departure airport||Weekly flights (W19)||Equipment|
|British Airways||London Heathrow||19||A321/B77W/A35K* (*from 01 Dec)|
|easyJet||London Gatwick*||3 (*from 27 Oct)||A320|
|London Stansted*||2 (*from 05 Nov)||A320|
|El Al||London Luton||9||B738/9|
|Virgin Atlantic||London Heathrow||7||A333|
|Wizz Air UK||London Luton||7||A320|
Wizz Air this week launched its first flights between London Luton (LTN) and Russia. Daily services are offered to Moscow Vnukovo (VKO) and St Petersburg Pulkovo (LED). Both are operated by the carrier’s A321 aircraft, with no other carriers connecting the airports from Luton. However, the city pairs themselves have seen significant evolution in recent years.
Demand between St Petersburg and London has grown sharply in the past three years, from 117,000 seats in 2017 to 237,000 in 2019 despite BA exiting the market this year. This can be explained by Rossiya’s reentry at Gatwick and Wizz Air’s new connection from Luton.
The London-Moscow market has been more volatile in recent years. easyJet offered a double daily service between Gatwick and Moscow/Domodedovo from 2013 until 2016. In 2018/19, both BA and Aeroflot reduced capacity between the two capitals, partially offset by Wizz Air’s launch. Click here to see our recent interview with Wizz Air UK’s MD, Owain Jones.