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!

November 2017: Route Review

route launches

Thai Airways – Thai Airways added another destination to their European portfolio: Vienna. The service will operate not with Thai’s new Airbus A350 or Boeing 787 aircraft, but with the trusty B777-300ER instead. Thai now flies from Bangkok to Copenhagen, Oslo, Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, Stockholm, London, Rome, Milan and Moscow.

Thai Airways launched daily flights from Bangkok to Vienna, making their debut in Austria, working with fellow Star Alliance carrier Austrian. Image: Anna.Aero

El Al – El Al – the national airline of Israel – returned to Miami this month, after a hiatus since 2008, offering flights to Tel Aviv, with Boeing 777-200ER equipment. Miami is the airlines fifth route in the US.

KLM – In Late October, after launching flights to Mauritius and Mumbai, KLM inaugurated flights to its third Central American destination – San Jose, Costa Rica. The flight will be served twice-weekly, onboard Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. Boet Kreiken, EVP of KLM Customer Experience commented on the launch,

“In recent years, Costa Rica has developed as a very attractive tourist destination for many Dutch and European tourists. We are happy to start operations to Costa Rica and of course, we also welcome Costa Ricans to travel with KLM to Amsterdam or one of our many destinations in Europe.”

Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner ‘Jasmine’ did the honours of the inaugural service to San Jose. Image: Anna.Aero

Thomas Cook – Thomas Cook and Fred Olsen worked together to launch a new bi-weekly Manchester-Mauritius service, operated by the airline’s Airbus A330-200 aircraft. It faces no direct competition, after TUI left the route last April, and over 250 passengers were given a tropical farewell as they embarked on their journey.

Beijing Capital Airlines – BCA has become the fourth Chinese airline to serve London Heathrow airport, offering twice-weekly services to Qingdao, aboard 212 seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft. It adds to Heathrow’s current flights to Guangzhou, Shanghai & Beijing in China. As a result of this expansion, Hainan Group now offer three destinations in the UK: Qingdao-Heathrow with Beijing Capital Airlines, Tianjin-Chongqing-Gatwick with Tianjin Airlines and Beijing-Manchester with Hainan Airlines.

Heathrow celebrated the launch of flights to Qingdao – the only flights from Qingdao to the UK. Image: Anna.Aero
route announcements this november

Etihad Airways – One of the Middle Eastern ‘Big Three’ continued to cut back this month, with the announcement it was to drop its Dallas-Abu Dhabi route. Whilst Etihad currently codeshare with American Airlines (who operates a hub in Dallas-Fort Worth), this will terminate on the 25th March 2018, at which point Etihad will render the route ‘will become commercially unsustainable’.

Middle Eastern airlines’ growth has been slowing recently. Have they started to plateau?

WOW Air – The low-cost, vibrant Icelandic airline continue their expansion plans into the winter, with the announcement of adding flights to a second New York gateway: JFK. Daily flights will launch on 26th April, when flights also launch to a second London gateway of Stansted.

Alitalia – Despite the Italian airline’s ubiquitous financial woes, it continues to expand, this month launching its African adventure. Beginning in Spring 2018, Alitalia will add flights from Rome to Nairobi and Johannesburg, with Airbus A330-200 aircraft. Both flights will be offered four times each week, with Alitalia offering three classes of service.

British Airways Cityflyer – In Late November, British Airways continued to raise furore among those based in the regions, with the announcement of expanding its summer flying programme from Manchester, Birmingham & Bristol. New routes include a once-weekly Embraer 190 services from Manchester to Florence, Tuscany. The announcement comes as they prepare to inaugurate new ski flights from Manchester to Salzburg and Innsbruck.

British Airways continues expanding in the regions – but only in the form of ‘Cityflyer’.

Air India – Air India offers two UK gateways: Birmingham & London Heathrow. Both have been expanded recently, with the addition of a daily Birmingham-Delhi service and a new Ahmedabad-Heathrow-Newark service (both operated by Boeing 787 Dreamliner equipment).

Over 135,000 Sikhs live in the West Midlands, making Birmingham the perfect destination for the UK’s only non-stop link to Amritsar – home of the Golden Temple. After intervention from politicians such as Andy Street (Mayor of West Midlands) and inner-city MPs, Air India announced this new Amritsar-Birmingham link, to operate non-stop twice-weekly. Air India’s plan is not yet clear, on whether they are to continue their current daily Delhi-Birmingham flights.

Aer Lingus – In an effort to continue their steady but consistent expansion to the US, the Irish flag carrier will add the first ever direct link between Dublin and Seattle, operating four-times a week from 18th May 2018. This means Aer Lingus now serve 13 US destinations (New York JFK, Hartford, Newark, Boston, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orlando, Miami, Toronto, Philadelphia & Seattle) and connections will be available from 12 UK cities – including the newly inaugurated Southend route, and other regional cities such as Leeds. 

Aer Lingus partners with Stobart Air to allow connections to UK cities such as Leeds or Newquay, conveniently allowed to make use of Dublin’s US Border Pre-Clearance system.

LOT Polish Airlines – Poland’s national carrier – LOT – will be introducing Warsaw’s first ever link to Singapore. The carrier’s first scheduled and regular service to Southeast Asia will commence in May 2018, initially operating thrice-weekly, with the airline’s long-haul backbone: the 787 Dreamliner. Following LOT’s successful expansion of flights to Los Angeles, and plans to start transatlantic services from Budapest – it seems the airline has a clear focus on intercontinental expansion and connecting the Polish capital to major Business centres around the world.

That’s a wrap, but I’ll be back next month, writing about all of December’s highlights in the aviation industry.