Route Review: February 2018 – Ryanair Slashes Glasgow Base

The summer season is starting in just under a month. This inevitably means an influx of new routes and services for the summer season. Whilst some airlines are rounding up their announcements for the summer programme, others are gearing up for launches in the upcoming winter season. In this article, I round up my favourite route development stories of the month.

Ryanair – Ryanair will increase their new route from Manchester-Belfast International from once to twice daily. Following its initial launch in March, the route will increase to twice daily at the start of the winter season in October.

However, in more significant news, Ryanair will be closing its 1-aircraft base in Glasgow (GLA). It will reduce its presence from 23 routes to just three and up to 300 jobs could be lost in the city because of the move, with a potential fall in around 500,000 passengers. Ryanair’s COO blames the “weaker Glasgow market” and the effects of Brexit on Scottish tourism. However, Ryanair will transfer five routes to Edinburgh – hosting 45 routes from the capital in Winter 2018. To me, it seems like a convenient excuse to blame Brexit – then transfer your operations across the Scottish Lowlands to a city still affected – both by APD and by Brexit. It is more likely to be as a result of dissatisfaction on behalf of Ryanair with the fees or service of Glasgow – especially as they remain committed to their nearby Prestwick base.

AeroMexico – The Mexican national carrier is expected to increase its London Heathrow-Mexico City operation in April. From April 2nd, AeroMexico has scheduled its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to operate the route on Mondays and Thursdays; perhaps giving Heathrow spotters the chance to see the intricate Quetzalcoatl livery, which adorns one of the -9 aircraft.

Cobalt Air – The start-up Cypriot national carrier is expanding at a rapid rate. In January, the new route to London Heathrow was announced – meaning the airline now flies to three London airports (Heathrow, Gatwick & Stansted). Additionally, it looks like the airline will also be adding a second destination in Germany – launching a Larnaca-Dusseldorf operation from May 3rd, complementing their present Frankfurt flights.

Emirates – From June 2018, Emirates will launch a new flight to Auckland – this time routing via Denpasar (Bali). The new service will also have fifth freedom rights for the Bali-New Zealand sector.

Air Malta – The Maltese flag carrier has launched a new partnership with London Southend. As I wrote about on Tuesday, the new service will operate to three destinations – Catania in Sicily, Cagliari in Sardinia and to the carriers Maltese base in Valetta. In total, this will mean Southend Airport gains 7-weekly flights and a new airline, from May 4th 2018.

A new partnership will allow Southend to grow even more.

Air Italy – In 2017, Meridiana launched its new transatlantic services from Milan Malpensa- to operate using A330 aircraft. This month, as the airline was rebranded to Air Italy by Qatar Airways – they announced an additional new route to Bangkok. The airline is turning its focus away from its previous bases of Palermo and Naples, and instead trying to take some of the market Alitalia previously dominated for business flights to and from Milan.

Meridiana uses Boeing 737 aircraft to operate its extensive network of internal Italian flights – their business model will soon be changing.

El Al – El Al Israel are also expected to launch flights to Manchester, from their base in Tel Aviv Ben Gurion. The flights will operate on Thursdays and Sundays with Boeing 737-800 equipment. It is currently unclear whether the flights will be operated by El Al, their UP subsidiary or another chartered airline. Although not formally announced by the airline, the flights are bookable on Tel Aviv Airport’s website, beginning on the 1st July.

Up by El Al at Berlin (Credit to @ber.spotter on Instagram)

Rossiya Airlines – Rossiya Airlines to operate the Saint Petersburg-London Gatwick service under Aeroflot flight numbers from the 25th March 2018, once daily, with A319 equipment.

Air Europa – The second largest Spanish legacy carrier will operate some short haul flights with its newest widebody equipment. Air Europa will operate the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner from Madrid to London Gatwick & Amsterdam (12th & 19th May and 28th April respectively)

That’s all from me this month. I’ll be back next month with more route development updates for you all.

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