May 2018: Route Review + Route Development of the Month

As summer is ushered in, most airlines are already in full swing, with their summer schedule finalised. Now, the focus turns to new routes for the winter season, with some carriers already planning ahead to May 2019. Here’s my pick of this month’s route development news:

ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES: MANCHESTER ON THE HORIZON

The route was officially announced on May 14th, and celebrated at Manchester Airport.

Ethiopian Airlines will be expanding its network to serve a second UK destination from December – Manchester. The new service will operate four-weekly with Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner equipment, via Brussels. Reservations opened for the new route this week, with two travel classes available: Business and Economy. It is hoped the Manchester-Addis Ababa connection will encourage more tourism to Africa, with the wealth of onward connections available to the south of the continent.

You can book the new Manchester-Brussels-Addis Ababa flight here to try out Ethiopian Airlines!

VIRGIN ATLANTIC: MANCHESTER EXPANSION WITH NEW ROUTE TO LAX AND A NEW HEATHROW-LAS VEGAS FLIGHT

Virgin Atlantic will further expand its base in Manchester next summer, with the launch of a brand new non-stop connection to Los Angeles. The airline will offer three-weekly flights to LAX, from May 25th 2019, allowing customer’s to connect to Delta’s onward flight network. Virgin Atlantic will find themselves in direct competition with Thomas Cook on the sector, but Virgin will have the monopoly when it comes to business flyers and high-yielding passengers. Additionally, frequencies on the Manchester-Las Vegas and Manchester-Boston routes will increase by up to 50% and the airline will hike capacity from the North of England to Atlanta and New York operating the Boeing 747-400 throughout the summer. The new Manchester-Los Angeles route will be bookable on the 25th June 2018 – cheap Business class fares can be found here.

JET AIRWAYS: MUMBAI IS NOW CONNECTED TO MANCHESTER

Manchester will be connected to India from November 5th, with a non-stop four weekly route to Mumbai. Jet Airways will operate the route, with Airbus A330-200 equipment, offering Business Class (in a 1-1-1 configuration) and Economy Class. The route will be the only nonstop flight between the North of England and India and will bring an unprecedented economic boost to the Manchester region.

Jet Airways’ new route will offer an economic boost to the North of England and will stimulate new Business and Leisure travel demand.

WIDEROE: FIRST E-2 TO UK WILL FLY FROM LIVERPOOL TO BERGEN

The Scandinavian carrier Wideroe has announced the launch of a new nonstop route between Western Norway and Northern England, choosing Liverpool John Lennon Airport as its gateway. The new services will mark the first time the Embraer E190 E-2 (of which Wideroe is the launch customer) has visited the UK, flying twice weekly on the LJLA-Bergen route from the 17th August 2018.

Wideroe’s Embraer E-2, with a refreshed livery.

ETIHAD: ABU DHABI-NEW YORK FREQUENCY HALVED, BUT ADDS NEW ROUTE TO BARCELONA

Etihad Airways is cutting route and frequencies left, right and centre. Flights to Edinburgh were one of the most recent casualties, leaving Scotland without a direct flight to Abu Dhabi. However, this most recent development represents the largest cut yet. Etihad will end one of its two daily frequencies to New York JFK (both of which are currently operated by the Airbus A380), leaving the airline with 6-weekly A380 flights and 1-weekly B777 flight. This is an extreme cut in capacity and is the most prominent indicator yet that the Middle Eastern airline is experiencing financial difficulties.

Despite this, Etihad is trying to expand in other markets. A five-weekly flight to Barcelona will launch in November from its Abu Dhabi hub, operating with Airbus A330-200 aircraft. It will be interesting to see how Etihad competes on this route with its Gulf rivals both already present; Emirates and Qatar Airways.

You can book the new Barcelona service and find other cheap Etihad flights on Etihad’s website here. 

BRITISH AIRWAYS: ANGOLA SERVICE SUSPENDED, BUT NEW FLIGHT TO DURBAN ANNOUNCED

British Airways has been more adventurous recently with long haul route development- with new flights to New Orleans, Santiago de Chile and Austin in recent years.

British Airways has announced a new non-stop connection to its third South African gateway; Durban. BA previously served Durban with a one-stop flight via Johannesburg, between 1981 and 1999. The new flight, however, will currently be the only non-stop connection between Europe and Durban, operating with Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner equipment thrice-weekly.

Simultaneously, however, BA is cutting one African route, with the suspension of services from London Heathrow to Luanda, in Angola.

ROYAL BRUNEI AIRLINES: LONDON GOES NON-STOP

Royal Brunei Airlines is also revamping its short haul fleet, with the delivery of its first Airbus A320Neo. Photo Credit Dn280 (Airliners.net)

The national carrier of Brunei will de-link London from its Dubai flight, instead offering nonstop services to the UK capital, whilst maintaining flights to the UAE. The new nonstop service to London will then continue to Melbourne, offering a convenient connection to Australia and tapping into the vast yet highly competitive UK-Aus market. The airline’s UK General Manager, Adiel Mambara, predicted that the new one-stop flight between London and Melbourne will see the carrier “become a major player in the UK-Australia market”. This new development comes at an exciting time for Royal Brunei Airlines, as they have recently recieved their first A320Neo.  

WOW AIR: ICELAND TO INDIA NON-STOP

Following rapid expansion in North America, WOW Air will add to its network with a new flight from Reykjavik to Delhi. The flight is estimated to take 10hrs 30mins and will operate with the low cost carrier’s Airbus A330 equipment. It is intended that the airline will attract customers in search of inexpensive fares from its plethora of US destinations to connect onto the new flight in Iceland.

WOW Air will expand to the Indian subcontinent with its Airbus A330 equipment.

EMIRATES: EDINBURGH SERVICE WILL LAUNCH IN OCTOBER

Edinburgh – the only major UK airport without regular direct services to Dubai – will be served by Emirates from October 1st 2018. The new service will complement the carrier’s existing services from Glasgow and Newcastle and comes as Etihad Airways withdraws its Edinburgh-Abu Dhabi service.

Emirates will now serve Manchester, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh in the UK.

The daily route will launch on October 1st, departing Dubai at 0955 and arriving into Edinburgh at 1450, with the return leg leaving the Scottish capital at 2015 and landing back into Dubai at 0640 the following day. Flights will be operated with Boeing 777-300ER equipment, configured with 8 first class suites, 42 seats in business class and 304 in economy.


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