The Most Notable New Airline Routes This Week

Welcome to our eighth routes newsletter, full of the latest colorful photos of new routes and route relaunches. Like what you see? 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.

Avelo Las Vegas
Avelo wins the water salute award for its new Las Vegas route. Photo: McCarran International Airport.

Avelo takes off from Santa Rosa to Las Vegas

New entrant Avelo started its next route on September 16th, with Santa Rosa to Las Vegas taking to the sky using the 189-seat B737-800. The 454-mile link, unserved since 2019, is now four-weekly on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays; great get-away days.

Avelo is the fourth airline to connect Santa Rosa to Sin City in recent years. Alaska operated it between 2008 and 2012 (with an average seat load factor of 79%, the DOT indicates), then Allegiant from 2016-2017 (66%), Sun Country 2018-2019 (78%), and now Avelo.

Avelo Santa Rosa and Las Vegas
Avelo operates four-weekly between Santa Rosa and Las Vegas and comes after Sun Country ended it in 2019. Photo: McCarran International Airport.

Wizz Air begins 11 new routes

Ultra-low-cost carrier Wizz Air has started 11 new routes in the past week. Ten of these were from Naples, a new base: Casablanca, Fuerteventura, Keflavik (where the photo was taken), London Luton, Prague, Sharm El Sheikh, Tallinn, Tenerife South, Turin, and Verona. It also began Rzeszów, a Polish city near the Ukrainian border, to Oslo Torp on September 15th.

Thinking about Keflavik, this is the first time that Naples has been connected non-stop to Iceland. The pair now have a twice-weekly service using the 239-seat A321neo, with a block time of around five hours on the long 2,175-mile sector.

Rzeszów, meanwhile, is a brand-new airport in Wizz Air’s network and its 10th airport in Poland. As neither Rzeszów nor Oslo Torp are Wizz Air bases, aircraft (normally the A321ceo) operate on a ‘W’ basis: Warsaw-Torp-Rzeszów-Torp-Warsaw. Torp has two-weekly flights, the same as Luton (beginning September 24th) and Eindhoven (October 31st) will have.

Wizz Air Keflavik
Naples-Keflavik and Rzeszów-Oslo Torp are two of 11 new routes. Photo: Keflavik International Airport.

The Queensland city of Townsville has welcomed its first new interstate route in about a decade, with the celebration involving a truly amazing cake. Adelaide, in South Australia, is now connected three-weekly by QantasLink using Alliance Airlines’ 94-seat Embraer 190s. The new route joins Virgin Australia’s recently started services from Adelaide to Cairns, Darwin, and Launceston.

With around 30,000 round-trip passengers in 2019, the 1,192-mile leisure-driven route between Adelaide and Townsville makes sense. It was the Queensland airport’s third-largest unserved market after Perth and Canberra, and Adelaide’s second-largest unserved. Adelaide joins Townsville’s long-standing interstate routes to Sydney, Melbourne, and Darwin.

QantasLink Townsville to Adelaide
Cricky, what an outstanding cake! Photo: Townsville Airport.

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It’s 10 years for Qatar Airways at Sofia

Qatar Airways has celebrated the 10th anniversary of serving Sofia from its Doha hub. The Middle East Big Three airline has operated to the Bulgarian capital since September 2011, when Dubai wasn’t linked with the European country.

Doha-Sofia has operated in various ways: a non-stop terminating service (Doha-Sofia-Doha), linked with Belgrade (Doha-Sofia-Belgrade and back), and via Bucharest. The A320 has overwhelmingly been the most-used type.

The carrier has a seven-weekly service to Sofia in the current week with all flights via the Romanian capital. Both the 132-seat and 144-seat A320 are deployed, although the larger-capacity aircraft is more typical.

Sofia Qatar Airways
The route reduces to four-weekly from December 16th, but all flights will be non-stop. Photo: Sofia Airport.

Austria welcomes Eurowings routes

Eurowings has introduced two routes from Germany to Austria. Düsseldorf to Linz began, with the 392-mile link operating five-weekly (Monday to Friday). It was joined by Stuttgart to Graz, just 312 miles distant, operating four-weekly (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday). Both routes primarily use A319s.

These airport-pairs have seen non-stop service for years. While Düsseldorf-Linz has been in the hands of Austrian Airlines since 2004, Stuttgart-Graz is more complicated. Styrian Airways operated it until March 2006, followed by Lufthansa the following month. Robin Hood joined in November 2008. Come 2009, three (!) airlines served it, with Austrian joining the fray and becoming the sole operator from 2011.

Eurowings is effectively being a caretaker, with fellow Lufthansa Group member Austrian to resume both routes. From October 31st Düsseldorf to Linz will be served 12-weekly, followed the next day by seven-weekly Stuttgart-Graz. Both routes will mainly have a double-daily weekday service timed for business travelers and, intriguingly, will use A320s

Stuttgart Graz Eurowings
While Eurowings has launched these routes, they’ll be ‘returned’ to Austrian Airlines soon. Photo: Graz Airport.

South Africa’s Airlink took to the sky on September 19th between Johannesburg and Entebbe. The regional carrier, which became independent in 2020 following its separation from South African Airways, has a twice-weekly service to Uganda.

It uses its largest aircraft, the 98-seat Embraer 190, on what is a long distance of 1,821 miles, with a flight time of around three hours and 45 minutes in each direction. It competes with a four-weekly offering by Uganda Airlines, which uses the CRJ-900, although the A330-800 has made an appearance. Johannesburg-Entebbe was previously dominated by South African.

Airlink Johannesburg to EntebbeAirlink Johannesburg to Entebbe
Airlink and Uganda Airlines both use regional jets between Johannesburg and Entebbe. Photo: via Airlink.

Cairns says g’day to two new Skytrans routes

Skytrans has introduced Cairns, in Tropical Queensland, to the renowned Whitsundays and onto Rockhampton, Australia’s ‘beef capital’. Operating five-weekly, the 309-mile intra-Queensland route to Proserpine – the main airport for the Whitsundays – uses 36-seat Dash-8-100s. It continues to Rockhampton, 234 miles further away.

Garry Porter, Chief Operating Officer of Cairns Airport, said: “Intrastate connectivity is our number-one priority as we continue to navigate the impact of border closures, and Skytrans is an incredibly innovative airline.  Their nimble approach to the current travel environment is a great testament to the airline and its commitment to connect Queenslanders.”

Skytrans Cairns to the Whitsundays
Australia is excellent at look-at-me celebratory cakes! Photo: Cairns Airport.

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Swoop resumes Edmonton to Phoenix-Mesa

Canadian low-cost carrier Swoop restarted Edmonton to Phoenix-Mesa on September 17th, with the route last served months ago. The definition of a ‘snowbird’ service, the 1,384-mile link to Arizona is once-weekly but will double from November. 189-seat B737-800s are used.

Swoop began the Edmonton to Mesa – almost perfectly due south – in October 2018, after being served by its higher-cost parent, WestJet. Swoop’s lower-cost platform will enable it to compete more effectively with Flair, which will add a three-weekly service from Edmonton beginning on December 17th. It last operated between December 2018 and March 2019.

Swoop Edmonton to Phoenix-Mesa
Seen in the photo at Mesa is Jesse Vanderlaan, a Regional Manager at Swoop. Photo: via Swoop.

Air Astana restarts Nur-Sultan to Heathrow

The Kazakhstan capital of Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) is once again connected non-stop to London Heathrow. This follows the Kazakh flag carrier, Air Astana, resuming the 2,990-mile route on September 18th. Operating twice-weekly, the 179-seat A321neo is now used, with 28 seats in business and 151 in economy. It has replaced the previous mainstay: the B757-200ER.

Currently, KC945 leaves Nur-Sultan on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 05:15 and arrives at Heathrow at 07:30 local. Returning, KC946 departs at 12:45 and arrives back at 00:15 the following morning. Timings to Heathrow go back 45 minutes in October and forward one hour from November.

Air Astana Nur-Sultan to Heathrow
It has been 18 months since Air Astana operated Nur-Sultan to Heathrow. Photo: Heathrow Airport.

Munich welcomes back Air Dolomiti to Turin

Munich has welcomed back its non-stop service to the northern Italian city of Turin. Operated by Lufthansa’s wholly-owned regional subsidiary Air Dolomiti, the short service of just 293 miles – about one hour flying time – currently runs seven-weekly using 120-seat Embraer 195s. It’ll rise to 31-weekly later this year.

In 2019, over 170,000 round-trip passengers connected to/from Turin over Munich, booking data shows. Wider Germany was the largest country market, followed by Poland, the UK, the US, Sweden, and Ireland. On an airport-pair basis, Turin-Düsseldorf was the most significant transit market, trailed by Dublin, Hannover, Berlin Tegel (as it then was), and Kraków.

Air Dolomiti Munich to Turin
Munich-Turin will rise to 31-weekly later this year. Photo: Munich International Airport.

Air Transat is back from Toronto to Gatwick

Canadian leisure airline Air Transat recommenced Toronto to London Gatwick on September 15th. Operated by the carrier for many years, the 3,576-mile route is presently three-weekly. However, it’ll rise to four-weekly from October and gradually to 14-weekly in peak summer 2022.

Toronto-Gatwick is now solely scheduled to see Air Transat’s 199-seat A321LRs, with 12 seats in Club Class and 187 in economy. The airline competes head-to-head with WestJet, which began the route in 2016 and will have up to seven-weekly flights by 320-seat B787-9s.

Air Transat Toronto to Gatwick
Air Transat is now exclusively A321neo between Toronto and Gatwick. Photo: Gatwick Airport.

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