The Most Notable New Airline Routes This Week

Welcome to our 12th routes newsletter, full of celebratory photos of new and relaunched routes. Why not sign up and receive it in your email inbox every week? Have any celebratory photos from the current week? Please send them to James Pearson (, so we can all join in the celebration.

KLM Barbados and Port of Spain
KLM is seen here in Barbados, having just arrived from Amsterdam, a brand-new service for the Dutch carrier. Photo: Mark Wagtendonk via KLM.

KLM takes off to Barbados and Port of Spain

Amsterdam is now connected to both Barbados and the Trinidad and Tobago capital of Port of Spain, thanks to KLM initiating both on October 16th. Routing non-stop to Barbados, flight KL781 then continues to Port of Spain before returning non-stop to Amsterdam.

There are currently two weekly flights, but three will operate from late November onwards until the route ends on March 24th. The 264-seat A330-200 will mainly be used; these have 18 seats in business, 36 in premium economy, and 214 in economy. However, the larger A330-300 is scheduled at times and operated the first service. Barbados was last served from Amsterdam by Martinair in 2006 and 2007 using the B767-300ER.

KLM Barbados and Port of Spain1
Barbados and Port of Spain will be three-weekly for most of the winter. Photo: Mark Wagtendonk via KLM.

Brussels is now connected with Mauritius

On October 15th, Air Belgium launched Brussels to Mauritius, a long trip of 5,106 nautical miles. Running on Tuesdays and Fridays, KF2301 leaves Belgium at 21:40 and arrives in Mauritius the next day at 11:30 local time. Returning, KF2302 leaves at 21:00 and arrives at 07:20 on day three.

The route uses the A330-900, with OO-ABG – thus far Air Belgium’s sole A330neo – delivered a week before the first scheduled flight. It has been over 17 years since Brussels was last connected with the Indian Ocean destination of Mauritius. It was operated by Air Mauritius until April 2004, with the A340-300 and B767-200ER both used.

Air Belgium is offering a twice-weekly service to Mauritius. Photo: via Brussels Airport.

Milwaukee welcomes Contour Airlines

Wisconsin’s largest city, Milwaukee, is again connected non-stop to both Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. Contour Airlines is responsible, with the regional jet carrier utilizing 30-seat Embraer 135s – its only type – on both routes. In 2019, Pittsburgh was a market of 37,000 round-trip passengers and Indianapolis about 15,000.

Contour has seven weekly flights from Indianapolis – timed to allow a day trip to Milwaukee – and Pittsburgh 13: six non-stop and seven via Indianapolis. Teddy bears, decorated cookies, first flight certificates, and Clark Bars were all to hand to celebrate Contour’s arrival in Milwaukee.

Contour has reconnected Milwaukee to Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. (Photo: via Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport.

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Bamboo Airways launches Điện Biên Phủ

On October 14th, Vietnam’s Điện Biên Phủ Airport welcomed its first-ever commercial jet service in the form of Bamboo Airways’ Embraer 190s. Located in the far northwest of the country, Điện Biên Phủ is located near the Laos border and around 435 kilometers by road from Hanoi. The remote airport is situated in the mountains with high elevation and a relatively short runway.

With three weekly flights to Hanoi, Bamboo Airways’ E190s have a block time of one hour and 10 minutes. Strangely, this is five minutes longer than Vietnam Airways’ ATR-72s, which ply the route 14-weekly. Nonetheless, Bamboo’s aircraft provide a higher payload and arguably superior passenger comfort.

Bamboo Airways
The jet carrier is operating three-weekly to Hanoi. Photo: via Bamboo Airways.

Virgin Atlantic touches down in St Vincent

The Caribbean has another new service to Europe, helped by the buoyant demand from higher-end leisure travelers. On October 13th, Virgin Atlantic introduced London Heathrow to St Vincent and the Grenadines – becoming the first European airline to serve the country. Operating twice weekly, it routes via Barbados in both directions and uses 264-seat A330-300s; these have 31 in Upper Class, 48 in premium economy, and 185 in economy.

VS197 leaves Heathrow at 09:10, arrives in Barbados at 13:10 local, departs at 14:40, and arrives at St Vincent – 97 nautical miles away – one hour later. Returning, VS198 leaves at 18:30, arrives in Barbados one hour later, leaves at 20:45, and reaches the UK at 10:10 the following day.

The Most Notable New Airline Routes This Week
Virgin Atlantic is the first European airline to serve St Vincent. Photo: via Virgin Atlantic.

RwandAir begins its third route to the DRC

RwandAir introduced its next route on October 15th as Kigali to Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), took to the sky. This is the carrier’s third route to DRC, joining Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. At just 57 nautical miles, Goma is very much its shortest to the country. Operating twice weekly, it uses 67-seat Dash-8-400s (seven seats in business) and has a block time of 40 minutes.

Yvonne Manzi Makolo, RwandAir CEO, said: “RwandAir’s new twice-weekly services to Goma and Lubumbashi [introduced in late September] will add more choice and flexibility for customers. We are always looking for new markets to propel the airline’s network and enhance the choice of destinations and routes.”

Kigali to Goma has a block time of just 40 minutes. Photo: via RwandAir.

Cayman Airways resumes Tampa

October 16th marked the return of Cayman Airways from Grand Cayman to Tampa, the first flight on the airport pair since the Cayman Islands shut its borders in March 2020. Its return was celebrated in style with a grand water salute.

Initially operating twice-weekly, the 523 nautical mile route will rise to five weekly in November. The first round-trip used VP-CIX, a 160-seat B737 MAX 8 delivered in March 2019. KX200 leaves Grand Cayman and arrives at 14:25 local time; returning, KX201 departs at 15:25 and arrives back at 16:10.

Cayman Airways to Tampa
Grand Cayman will shortly rise to five-weekly. Photo: via Cayman Airways.

British Airways returns San Diego & Austin

British Airways has resumed London Heathrow to both San Diego and Austin, a significant development given the carrier is the primary long-haul operator from these US airports. This brings to 16 the number of US destinations BA has this month. It comes ahead of the US reopening to most fully vaccinated Europeans from early November and more routes resuming.

BA has four weekly services to Austin by the B787-9 and three to San Diego by the B777-200ER. In November, San Diego will be replaced by the B787-9, while both routes will be seven weekly from mid-December onwards.

BA to San Diego and Austin
BA resumed San Diego in 2011, and the route operated until it was temporarily stopped because of the pandemic. Photo: San Diego Airport.

That’s it for the 12th edition of our routes newsletter. To get something like this in your inbox every week, please sign up for our weekly routes newsletter.