The Most Notable New Airline Routes This Week

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JetBlue London
JetBlue is now flying once-daily from JFK to Heathrow using the 138-seat A321LRs. Photo: via JetBlue.

JetBlue’s first Europe service takes off

JetBlue began New York JFK to London Heathrow on August 11th, marking several years since long-haul operations were first mooted. ‘New York’s hometown airline’ uses low-capacity A321LRs on the route with just 138 seats: 90 in Core, 24 in Even More Space, and 24 fully flat Mint seats. It has two A321LRs so far, with N4022J – delivered in April – operating to date.

With seven-weekly flights for the rest of August, JetBlue’s Heathrow service reduces to four-weekly in September before returning to its previous level from October. On September 29th, JFK to London Gatwick will begin, subject to change.

With nearly four million passengers in 2019, JFK-London is the most important long-haul market in the world. For the rest of summer 2021, JetBlue is one of five non-stop airlines in this market. While the carrier expects to grow London to multi-daily, it has a 5.2% capacity share until the end of the summer.

JetBlue London
JetBlue is one of five airlines between JFK and London this summer. Photo: via JetBlue.

Eurowings Discover launches Windhoek

Eurowings Discover began Frankfurt to Windhoek on August 10th. The five-weekly service, which leaves Germany at 21:50 and returns two days later at 05:10, uses 270-seat A330-200s. These have 231 seats in economy, 22 in business, and 17 in premium economy.

While Eurowings Discover has no head-to-head competition to Windhoek, various carriers have operated the route over the years. Air Namibia served it non-stop for a long time until 2020, variously using the B747-400, MD-11, A340-300, and A330-200.

Meanwhile, Condor operated between 2014 and 2019, with Eurowings launching it in 2019. Lufthansa entered the market in June 2021 to replace Eurowings, but it was replaced two months later by Eurowings Discovery.

Eurowings Discover Windhoek1
This 5,020-mile route comes shortly after the airline began Mombasa and Zanzibar in East Africa. Photo: Windhoek Hosea Kutako International Airport.

GullivAir introduces Sofia to Burgas

Bulgaria’s GullivAir began Sofia to the coastal resort of Burgas on August 15th. Some 36 passengers were aboard the 70-seat ATR-72-600, Fraport Bulgaria said, making a seat load factor of 51%. Delivered in late 2020, LZ-DAJ operated the first rotation, a machine previously used by Saudi Arabia’s Nesma Airlines.

GullivAir is operating the 210-mile sector seven-weekly. It leaves Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, at 18:00 and arrives in Burgas at 19:00. Returning, it leaves at 08:00 and arrives back at 09:00. It competes directly with Bulgaria Air’s eight-weekly service.

Commenting on the inaugural flight, Frank Quante, Chief Executive of Fraport Bulgaria, said: “We are very happy to welcome the first aircraft of GullivAir on the Burgas – Sofia – Burgas connection. With the intention to connect Burgas daily to Sofia all year long, GullivAir is a pioneer, and we appreciate and support this project.”

GullivAir hopes to operate year-round. Photo: Fraport Bulgaria.

Air Premia begins operations

Air Premia took to the skies for its first revenue-generating flight on August 11th between Seoul Gimpo and the South Korean island destination of Jeju, some 280 miles apart. This route is the world’s most served, with 16.4 million seats (!) this year.

We love celebratory photos to showcase a new route, a relaunched route, or indeed to mark the first flight of a new entrant. Alas, the South Korean new entrant had no celebration to mark its introduction, but we’re nonetheless including it as it’s a brand-new widebody operator.

Air Premia is currently operating two round-trips to Jeju daily, operated by its sole aircraft, a B787-9 (HL8387). Compete with 309 seats, including 56 in premium economy, this aircraft shows the carrier’s long-haul ambition, which it expects to realize in 2022.

Air Premia HL-8387
Air Premia’s first route to Jeju began on August 11th. Photo: via WorldAviationHD.

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Blue Islands starts Bastia and Ibiza

Blue Islands has launched two brand-new summer services from the Channel Islands airport of Jersey. Beginning on August 13th was Bastia, Corsica (where this photo was taken), followed two days later by Ibiza. It is reported that Ibiza’s first flight was almost sold out.

Bastia and Ibiza operate once-weekly using ATR-72-500s, despite both routes being over 700 miles, pushing block times past three hours. Bastia has two round-trips this summer, while it’s five for Ibiza.

The last time Jersey was served from Spain was in 2018, when Germania used A319s from Tenerife South. Meanwhile, the only destination in Southern France was Nice, served by Flybe between 2008 and 2011.

Blue Islands 1
Blue Islands’ new routes mean that Jersey is again connected to France and Spain. Photo: Blue Islands.

Green Africa inaugurates Lagos to Abuja

Africa’s newest airline, Green Africa Airways, inaugurated operations on August 12th with its first flight between Lagos and Abuja, the Nigerian capital. It has 14 weekly flights on the airport-pair and competes head-to-head with six other airlines. Its fleet thus far consists of three 70-seat ATR-72-700s, of which two are active.

Green Africa’s service to Abuja operates between 06:00 and 09:55 and 19:00 and 22:55. This means much scope for additional routes throughout the day, along with the available capacity from its other aircraft. Indeed, looking at the week starting August 25th, it will, by then, also be operating seven-weekly from Lagos to each of Akure, Enugu, Ilorin, Owerri, and Port Harcourt.

Green Africa
Green Africa’s Chief Executive, Babawande Afolabi, seen third-right, said: “We are on a mission to connect more people in Nigeria and Africa to their dreams and opportunities”. Photo: via Green Africa.

Super Air Jet takes to the sky

Designed for millennials, Super Air Jet’s first scheduled flights departed from Jakarta’s main airport, Soekarno Hatta, on August 9th to Medan (859 miles) and Batam (528 miles), the Indonesian island near Singapore.

In the current week, both routes have seven-weekly flights, which is very little productivity-wise for the length of haul, and two active A320s (each has 180 seats). But this will change. Indeed, four other routes from Jakarta – Padang, Pekanbaru, Palembang, Pontianak – are listed in the airline’s booking engine for this week, each at seven-weekly, but all are zeroed out. They’ll be coming soon.

Super Air Jet
Indonesia’s newest airline has taken off. Photo: Super Air Jet.

Scoot resumes Berlin

August 10th marked Scoot’s return to Berlin from Singapore, a route the carrier, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, began in 2018. Then, Scoot served Tegel; now it is Brandenburg. B787-8s, with 329 seats, are used on the three-weekly flights. These 787s have 18 seats in ScootPlus, 33 in ScootInSilence, and 278 in economy. 

While the 6,174-mile service to Germany used to be operated non-stop, it is now via Athens, on which Scoot has fifth-freedom traffic rights. Singapore Airlines itself served Athens for many years until 2015, showing part of Scoot’s role: to operate lower-yielding routes with a lower-cost platform than its parent, hopefully enabling stronger results.

Scoot BER
Scoot operates Singapore-Athens-Berlin three-weekly. Photo: Berlin Brandenburg Airport.

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