Route Review: January 2018

My first pick of the most important new routes for 2018; from Ryanair to Singapore Airlines, here are the newly developing markets in the aviation industry.


Ryanair – At the end of January, the Irish Low Cost Carrier announced $300 million investment in Manchester airport, with 10 new routes and increased capacity on existing connections. New routes from Manchester include Agadir, Almeria, Barcelona Reus, Cagliari, Palermo, Rhodes (all 2 weekly), Porto, Venice Treviso (both 3 weekly), Ponta Delgada (once weekly) and Belfast International (daily). Throughout the summer season, they will offer more flights on routes to Bologna, Chania, Alicante, Faro, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Malaga, Lisbon, Majorca, Naples, Tenerife and Fuerteventura. The boost for Manchester capacity represents 300,000 extra seats, an extra 9 million customers p.a. and 3,675 new ‘on-site’ jobs.

Ryanair will boost it’s Manchester operations.

Hainan Airlines – Hainan Airlines will be launching direct services from China to the industrial Northern German city – Hamburg. They will move two weekly of the present frequencies between Beijing and Berlin Tegel to Hamburg, from August 2nd. The only direct connection between China and Hamburg will be operated by a mix of Airbus A330 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner equipment.

It is feasible that a combination of 787 and A330 equipment will operate the new route to Hamburg.

Alaska Airlines – As Alaska Airlines pushes Seattle-Tacoma Airport to capacity, they have announced new routes from Everett Paine Field, to begin in autumn 2018. Alaska will operate 13 daily flights to 8 cities from the two gates at the newly constructed passengers terminal. Specifically, Alaska Airlines will fly to San Jose, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego & San Francisco. Alaska’s Chief Commercial Officer said “We’re proud to become the anchor tenant of the new terminal at Paine Field. With so many new possibilities for business and leisure travel, we believe this will bring increased opportunities to our communities.”

Alaska initially plans to operate Embraer 175 aircraft from Everett.

Southwest – Similarly to Alaska & United (who will operate services to Denver and San Francisco), Southwest will also begin to fly to Everett. it will operate five flights daily after the new terminal opens in September. It will fly Boeing 737s, larger than the Embraer E175 regional jets that Alaska Airlines and United plan to operate initially. The Dallas-based low cost airline will be the third to announce flights from the new airport, which will have just two gates. Furthermore, the announcement of these flights pushes Everett’s passenger capacity to the limit, with 24 daily departures (50% above the levels airport officials predicted last year).

Singapore Airlines – The ‘Capital Express’ – a route between Singapore, Canberra & Wellington launched with much fanfare not too long ago, with the concept of connecting the capital cities of Australia and New Zealand. Now, Singapore Airlines will change the routings for these flights, but continue to serve both capital cities. The new routings begin on the 3rd May 2018, operating as SQ247 (with a Boeing 777-200) between Singapore-Melbourne-Wellington and SQ288 in a triangular routing between Singapore-Sydney-Canberra-Singapore – increasing the frequency to daily and operating with a newly refurbished four-class Boeing 777-300ER.

The 777-300ER and daily frequency represents a capacity increase for Canberra.

Cobalt Air – From 27th March 2018, the newly emerging national airline of Cyprus, Cobalt Air, will launch services from their Larnaca hub to a third London airport. Adding to Gatwick & Stansted, Heathrow will become their fourth UK destination and will operate with the new Business Class product Cobalt offer. I will be flying the CAPA Start-Up Airline of the Year in February, from Manchester to Larnaca so stay tuned for my review.

Cobalt already flies from Larnaca to Manchester, Stansted & Gatwick in the UK.

That’s it for this month. Next month we’ll see many more new route opportunities for the upcoming summer season!

October 2017: Route Review

October is the height of the route development season. Here is my monthly pick of this month’s best routing news.

Route Launches:

JAL – On October 29th JAL furthered relations between Japan and Britain even further when they added a morning Haneda – London flight. JL41 leaves Tokyo at 2.45am and lands at Heathrow at 6.30. The aircraft then turns around and operates back as JL42. Raj was onboard the inaugural JL42 and will be writing more about in the coming weeks. JAL operate the route with a B787-8 variant with three cabins – business, premium and economy.

Stobart Air – On Sunday, 29th October, Stobart Air launched its trio of operations from London Southend Airport. Flights will operate with Embraer 195 equipment to Dublin & Glasgow, with ATR-72 equipment operating their new Manchester sector. Read my review on Stobart’s Aer Lingus Regional offering here; I can’t wait to review their new Embraer aircraft following LondonSpotter’s positive experience on the Embraer 190. This new service is a significant step for London Southend airport, allowing customers easy access to 11 US destinations via Dublin’s US Pre-Clearance facility.

“With up to three daily services to Dublin, this route offers frequency, optimum schedules and an efficient, convenient and effortless connection to US destinations for our business and leisure passengers.’

-London Southend CEO, Glyn Jones

Air Arabia Maroc – The Moroccan division of Air Arabia launched its new Agadir base in early October. Flights were launched with the airline’s A320 aircraft to Manchester, Copenhagen, Cologne/Bonn, Dublin, Munich, Stockholm and Toulouse.

KLM – At the start of the winter season, KLM’s new flights to Mumbai and San Jose (Costa Rica) were launched. Both services operate with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner equipment. It represents KLM’s second Indian destination, and solidifies the Dutch airline’s position as a market leader in Latin America.

Route Announcements:

Primera Air – The new airline on the low-cost Transatlantic scene gained the necessary permissions from the Canadian authorities to operate Toronto-European Union routes. Soon after, they announced services from Stansted and Birmingham to Toronto Pearson, operating with newly delivered A321Neo equipment. Both services will depart from the UK on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Primera hope to expand their Transatlantic operations further, with the delivery of new Boeing 737 MAX-9 aircraft. Image: Primera Air

LATAM – LATAM’s Brazilian branch announced major expansion in mid-October, with new routes from Brazil’s economic centre – Sao Paulo – to Boston, Rome and Lisbon. All routes will operate with Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. More details of the new flights will be confirmed in the coming months, but these are important additions to LATAM’s European network from Brazil, which currently includes Barcelona, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Milan and Paris.

Qatar Airways – Qatar will launch thrice-weekly flights from their Middle Eastern hub in Doha to Penang. Services will operate with the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and boast convenient connections to Europe and the US, promoting tourism in the region.

Qatar 777-300ER landing at London Heathrow. Image: @LondonSpotter

Iberia – Spain’s national carrier is ignoring the current diplomatic and constitutional crisis in the region, and ploughing ahead with further expansion out of its Madrid hub. Recently launched non-stop services to Tokyo will increase from three to five-weekly and two new destinations will be inaugurated; San Francisco and Managua. Both flights will operate with Airbus A330 aircraft, featuring lie-flat beds, but its important to note that although Managua flights will be direct, they will not be non-stop. These new services will be a tag-on to current Guatemala City flights.

Aer Lingus – The Irish national carrier will launch four-weekly flights from Dublin to Philadelphia next summer, with Boeing 757-200 aircraft leased from ASL Airlines. Aer Lingus says it will offer a total of 2.75 million seats to and from North America in summer 2018, with an additional 575 transatlantic flights compared with this summer, as part of its largest ever programme.

Aer Lingus will offer 11 destinations via its Dublin hub next summer.

British Airways – In a further move to bolster its domestic network, British Airways will expand services to Inverness from daily to ten-weekly. Its important news for the Highland communities, as the connections offered through London Heathrow are unprecedented. The airline also announced a new service to Southern Spain’s Almeria to operate on a summer-seasonal basis – with Airbus A320 aircraft.

British Airways has previously announced new long-haul destinations, including Nashville and the Seychelles. Image: @LondonSpotter

Air Transat – Birmingham has had a bad month in terms of route development. Air Transat pulled their loyal Toronto service for next year’s summer season, minutes after Primera’s new flight had been announced. With both United and Air Transat out of the Birmingham market, the airport’s managers are clearly taking a gamble on the Nordic newcomer. Whether that gamble will be worth it, remains to be seen.

TUI Airlines UK – In December 2018, TUI will expand its winter offering from the UK’s regional airports. They’ll offer a series of charters to Muscat, Dubai, Newark, Krabi & Cochi to connect holidaymakers to cruise itineraries, but will launch regular fortnightly services from Manchester and Birmingham to Malaysia’s Langkawi and the Thai capital, Bangkok operating with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The airline will also expand its Manchester-Phuket flights, to a weekly operational basis.

TUI will also operate a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from Manchester next summer, in addition to London Gatwick. Image: Fernandez Manuel

SAS Scandinavian – SAS will launch a twice-weekly service from Stockholm Arlanda to Birmingham. After the city pair was left unserved by the void Monarch left on October 1st, SAS has stepped in offering flights on Fridays and Sundays. The airline’s Regional Manager said the new flight would cater for increased demand of those travelling for both ‘pleasure and business’.

That’s all for this month! If you want to receive our monthly newsletter and know when new articles are published then sign up below!

September 2017: Route Review

As we glide into Autumn, airlines are well and truly giving us some great excitement with route planning for next summer. Here’s my monthly pick at the most important news.

Route Launches: 

Norwegian – Yet again, Norwegian dominates the route review – with new services from London Gatwick to Denver and Seattle both launching this month. Both services are to be operated by Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, and compete fiercely with BA’s current London Heathrow-Denver service and the plethora of carriers serving London Heathrow-Seattle. With Thomas Cook starting Manchester-Seattle services next May, one may ask, is the UK-Seattle market becoming oversaturated? The proof will be in the figures.

In addition, on 28th September 2017, Norwegian launched their new Gatwick-Singapore connection – the first long haul flight to be operated under the Norwegian UK subsidiary. This flight will also operate with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner equipment, and marks the entry of Norwegian into the Singaporean market.

Norwegian operates their Boeing 787-9, equipped with Premium Economy on both new routes. Image: @londonspotter

Loganair – Loganair broke free from it’s Flybe alliance – starting it’s own services on September 1st. With the new services, comes the increase of Manchester-Glasgow flights to 6 a day, and a beautiful Tartan livery. What’s more, they’ve done all that without IndyRef 2

Route Announcements: 

United – After pulling back on the UK market, United has reinstated faith with the announcement of new services from:

  • Washington D.C. to Edinburgh (marketed cleverly by Edinburgh Airport as ‘Capitol to Capital’)
  • New York Newark to Reykjavik  & Porto
  • San Francisco to Zurich

All services will be operated by Boeing 757-200 aircraft, with the exception of Boeing 787-8 operated SFO-ZRH. The new European connections will begin next summer.

Air Canada – A transatlantic revolution is taking place, and for that we can thank the Boeing 737 MAX. The MAX opens up long thin markets for airlines to operate profitably; it’s why we are seeing routes such as Belfast to Providence, and Edinburgh to Stewart. Air Canada clearly didn’t want to miss out, and has announced services between Toronto & Shannon and Montréal & Dublin. This marks a massive vote of confidence in the Irish market for the Canadian flag carrier – as they will now serve three destinations from Dublin (Vancouver, Toronto, Montréal) and are the only foreign airline to offer a transatlantic destination other than New York, from Ireland’s second airport – Shannon.

Air Canada’s 737MAX render. Image: Air Canada

Delta – For Delta this month, it’s a very mixed story.

Firstly, let’s get the bad news out of the way. Next summer, Delta will cut two destinations all together – Moscow (SVO) and Stockholm (ARN). In addition, it will end service from Philadelphia to Heathrow (already announced) and Paris, suspending service from Newark to Amsterdam.

Now, on to the exciting route development news. Among the aviation community, it is widely seen that Delta is employing a rather different strategy than the other US airlines. Instead of expanding out of hubs, they are adding flights from smaller US markets to their main hubs of Paris and Amsterdam in Europe. Whilst in August, Delta announced a new Orlando-Amsterdam service, this month they went further. Delta will start a new 767-300ER service between Indianapolis and Paris in summer 2018, which will go on sale on the 23rd September. This will be the first transatlantic connection for Indianapolis – so, unsurprisingly, the route has been supported by subsides of $5 million, Indiana Business reports. They will also launch two new routes between Los Angeles and Paris/Amsterdam with Boeing 777-200LR equipment, adding to their joint venture partner’s (Air France and KLM respectively) frequencies. Finally, and perhaps the most surprising, is between New York JFK and Ponta Delgada (Azores). This makes Delta the only US airline to serve the Azores, and gives Delta two destinations in Portugal.

Of course, there is other less significant news and frequency changes but their is not enough room to report everything here.

Virgin Atlantic –  Virgin Atlantic will be increasing it’s operation at Manchester next year. They will be adding 40,000 seats to the market, with an additional 747 base. The new 747-400 will operate four-weekly services to New York JFK and three-weekly services to Atlanta. However, both routes are served daily, with the remainder being operated by the current A330-300 aircraft.

Next year, in peak summer, Virgin will offer 35 weekly transatlantic departures from Manchester, every week.

Icelandair – Iceland’s airlines just can’t stop growing. In fact, I may have to dedicate a whole blog post to them every month! This month, they announced services from their hub to Dallas/Fort Worth. Icelandair’s first venture into Texas will come in the form of a four-weekly, Boeing 757-200 service.

There is debate as to whether such rapid growth of tourism generated by the aviation industry in Iceland is sustainable.

In other news, they also filed the schedule for their 737 MAX services, which will operate to only Birmingham in the UK.

WOW Air – Yes, you guessed it. WOW Air also announced flights to Dallas/Fort Worth. This connection will operate thrice-weekly, but with a widebody aircraft – the Airbus A330-300. Both airlines are clearly trying to upstage eachother, but I fear it could end badly for both airlines involved. On a lighter note, more competition can only be good for the passengers!

British Airways – British Airways announced in mid-September that it’s London Heathrow to Austin route would be upgraded to a Boeing 747-400, from a Boeing 787-9. That’s a massive capacity jump – particularly for the high-yielding cabins – and shows how the 787 really can open up new markets, that can then be grown into a great success.

In arguably more exciting news, British Airways is launching service to the Seychelles in March 2018. The service will operate with Boeing 787-9 aircraft, on a two weekly basis. The interesting development here is that BA will operate this flight from Heathrow, rather from primarily Leisure-based Gatwick. This is clearly to optimise connection opportunities, around Europe and Transatlantic.

British Airways is another airline dominating the route development discussion at the moment. Image: @londonspotter

Cathay Pacific – After starting the route in 2015, Cathay Pacific has now confirmed it is axing it’s Hong Kong to Dusseldorf route from March 2018.

On the contrary, it will increase its services on the Barcelona and Tel Aviv  to Hong Kong connections – both of which operate with Airbus A350 equipment.

KLM – KLM will launch new service from Amsterdam to Fortaleza in Summer 2018, on a twice-weekly basis, with Airbus A330-200 aircraft. This will mark KLM’s third gateway into Brazil, and secures KLM’s position in the Latin American market.

Emirates – Emirates announced plans this month to launch a fourth-daily Dubai-Sydney service, operating with Airbus A380-800 aircraft. It will add more and convenient connections for customers, and an additional 6.846 seats per week in capacity. This, and expansion to the Brisbane service, means the UAE national carrier will serve Australia 91 times every week.

Emirates A380 leaving London Gatwick. Photo by @londonspotter

Qatar Airways – Qatar Airways stunned everyone back in May, when they announced the intention to launch Doha to Cardiff flights. This month, they opened bookings for the new route. It will be operated on a daily basis, with Boeing 787-8 equipment. Great news for Wales & Cardiff!

Garuda Indonesia – Garuda Indonesia transferred from London Gatwick to London Heathrow some time ago. Previously, due to the strength of the runway at Jakarta, they had to make a refuelling stop in Singapore. Now, it appears that has been resolved, as Garuda Indonesia will offer non-stop Jakarta to London services from October 31st. Frequency will remain the same, but with an amended schedule, as Garuda wants   “to boost connections from the UK to Australia (Melbourne, Sydney and Perth), the Far East (Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul) and China (Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Shanghai)”.

Royal Air Maroc – Before March 2017, Casablanca had never been served from Manchester before, but Royal Air Maroc came bursting onto the scene, offering a wealth of connections to Africa through their Moroccan hub. Now, they are increasing flights to 4-weekly from next summer; from a standing start, this route can widely be acknowledged as a great success.

Air France – Air France will be launching new service to Seattle and Taipei, after a hiatus from both markets. It will join KLM in the Taiwanese market and joint venture partner Delta in the Seattle market. Both services will operate with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, and from Paris Charles de Gaulle.