The Most Notable New Airline Routes This Week

Welcome to our fifth routes newsletter. As you’ll see, the photos we use are celebratory in nature. As most new routes or relaunches go uncelebrated (a big shame!), we can’t cover all developments in the past week. But if you see or have any celebratory photos, please send them to James Pearson (james@simpleflying.com) so we can all join in. We hope you like the content. If you do, why not sign up to receive it in your email inbox every week?

Southwest Eugene
Southwest’s entry at Eugene, Oregon, has helped that airport to strongly exceed pre-pandemic capacity. Photo: Eugene Airport.

Southwest launches Eugene services

Southwest introduced its first flights to Eugene on August 29th. It has 14-weekly departures to Oakland, 445 miles away, and a seven-weekly operation to Las Vegas. Both routes will enable system-wide connectivity to/from the Oregon airport.

On both routes, Southwest is head-to-head with a twice-weekly service from ultra-low-cost carrier Allegiant, which has served Eugene since 2007. The entry of Southwest, along with Avelo from Burbank, has helped to exceed Eugene’s pre-pandemic capacity level by 20%. Southwest is now the third-largest airline at the airport.

Southwest Eugene
Southwest is now flying to Eugene from Oakland and Las Vegas. Photo: Eugene Airport.

Sun Country begins Milwaukee to Las Vegas

August 26th marked Sun Country’s first flight from Milwaukee to Las Vegas, with N826SY, a 15.3-year B737-800, having the honor. The 1,524-mile service is operated just once-weekly and is bookable, for now, until November 25th. It competes directly with Southwest (up to 25-weekly), Spirit (seven-weekly), and Frontier (seven-weekly). In 2019, over 378,000 flew from Milwaukee’s metro to Las Vegas, including passengers leaked to Chicago.

Sun Country last served Milwaukee on an extremely limited-time basis to Bullhead City, Arizona, until 2009. The airline is back in 2021, with routes to Fort Myers, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Cancun – and Las Vegas.

Sun Country Milwaukee
Sun Country will have five routes from Milwaukee this year. Photo: General Mitchell International Airport.

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Air Peace starts Nigeria to Douala

Nigeria’s Air Peace has introduced Douala, Cameroon, from both Lagos and the country’s oil capital, Port Harcourt. Neither route is long, at just 203 miles from Port Harcourt and 475 miles from Africa’s largest city. Port Harcourt is once-weekly, continuing onto Lagos, while Lagos is twice-weekly non-stop plus the one-stop service. Air Peace competes with a once-weekly ASKY service to Lagos, originating in Lomé.

Port Harcourt-Douala was last operated in 2006 when three airlines served it: Air Nigeria, Bellview Airlines, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Hewa Bora Airways. Aircraft used included the DC-9-30, B727-200, and B737-200.

Air Peace to Cameroon_1
It has been a long time since Port Harcourt and Douala were connected non-stop. Photo: Douala International Airport.

Spirit celebrates a decade at Oakland

Spirit has celebrated 10 years of serving Oakland. Its first flight arrived in August 2011 with two daily flights from Las Vegas using 145-seat A319s. Dallas began in 2013, Chicago in 2014, Houston and Los Angeles in 2015, and Detroit and Baltimore in 2017.

The ultra-low-cost carrier had more seat capacity in 2018 than any other year, with just 5,996 fewer than one million. It was Oakland’s second-largest airline that year, although only with a 5.7% capacity share (Southwest had 70.6%). It has retained Oakland’s second spot in 2021 with five routes: Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Orange County; Detroit; and Chicago. Unlike in 2011, the A320neo is now all-important from the airport.

Spirit at Oakland
Spirit’s first route to Oakland was from Las Vegas in 2011. Photo: Oakland International Airport.

Star Air introduces three new routes

On August 26th, India’s regional carrier Star Air started three new routes and served Hyderabad and Jamnagar for the first time. It launched Bangalore and Hyderabad to Jamnagar, Gujarat’s fifth-largest city, together with service between Bangalore and Hyderabad. Each is served three-weekly non-stop. It is the first time that Jamnagar has been connected to the two major Indian cities.

Because of how Jamnagar is scheduled, VT-GSS, a 50-seat Embraer 145 that entered Star Air’s fleet in early 2021, flew the first flights on all three routes. The aircraft routed Bangalore-Jamnagar-Hyderabad-Bangalore-Jamnagar-Bangalore.

Star Air
It is the first time that Jamnagar has been connected to Bangalore and Hyderabad. Photo: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport.

British Airways resumes Heathrow to Budapest

August 25th marked the resumption of British Airways from London Heathrow to Budapest. In September, it is operating four-weekly on the 928-mile route, rising up to 16-weekly in October. BA has been the sole player on the airport-pair since Malev exited in 2006.

While BA has no direct competition, indirect competition is heavy. In September, there’s Ryanair from Stansted (21-weekly), Wizz Air from Luton (up to 19-weekly), and easyJet from Gatwick (four-weekly).

In 2019, BA had an approximate seat load factor of 81% to/from Budapest. Around 135,000 round-trip passengers transited over Heathrow, overwhelmingly to the US, distantly followed by Ireland, the rest of the UK, China, and Spain. The top-five markets were Budapest to JFK, Miami, Dublin, Los Angeles, and Boston.

BUD-LHR
British Airways has been the only operator between Heathrow and Budapest since 2006. Photo: Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport.

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SriLankan to double Kenya Flights

SriLankan has revealed that it will double the frequency between Colombo and Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. The 3,022-mile route first took off in April 2021 using the 297-seat A330-300, with 28 seats in business. The reason for the route wasn’t passenger demand –  the point-to-point market is small –  but rather for freight reasons.

Starting on November 1st, it’ll now run twice-weekly, with freight demand presumably still the main driver. However, as things increasingly open up, SriLankan is likely to attract passengers traveling between Nairobi and parts of India, Southeast Asia, China, and beyond for which Colombo is in a favorable location. This is a sizeable market of over 400,000 passengers in 2019.

SriLankan Airlines to Nairobi
SriLankan mainly began Nairobi for cargo reasons. Photo: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Uganda Airlines celebrates two years

Uganda Airlines has celebrated its second anniversary, at least in the form the operator now takes. After ceasing in 2015, it relaunched in 2019 with routes from Entebbe to Nairobi, Juba, Dar Es Salaam, Mogadishu, Mombasa, Bujumbura, and Kilimanjaro using 76-seat CRJ-900s.

Between August and December 2021, the carrier’s network includes the abovementioned seven destinations, along with Johannesburg, Lusaka, Kinshasa, and Zanzibar. Its fleet comprises six machines: four CRJ-900s and two 258-seat A330-800s. Its widebodies, both delivered in the past eight months, are active. Since August 27th, A330-800 5X-NIL has been used from Entebbe to Nairobi, Juba, Johannesburg, and Dar Es Salaam, while 5X-CRN has been used only to the Kenyan capital.

Uganda Airlines two years
Uganda Airlines has six aircraft. Photo: Uganda Airlines.
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