Welcome to our tenth 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can all join in the celebration.
JetBlue takes off from JFK to London Gatwick
JetBlue now has two routes from New York JFK to Europe. This follows the launch of London Gatwick on September 29th, adding to JetBlue’s Heathrow service that began on August 11th.
Some 3,015 nautical miles from JFK, Gatwick currently operates four-weekly using the 138-seat A321LR. However, it’ll rise to seven-weekly from the end of October. JetBlue is the only carrier now connecting Gatwick and JFK non-stop. Its service typically leaves JFK at 19:48, arrives the next day at 07:55, departs at noon, and arrives back at 15:33.
Speaking at the launch, Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s CEO, said: “I’m delighted and excited to welcome JetBlue to Gatwick. Travel restrictions between the UK and the US start falling away in just days, so fully vaccinated customers can now book this exciting new route confidently. London to New York is historically the world’s most popular international route and – given JetBlue’s extremely competitive pricing and high-quality service – I expect this new route to be in high demand.”
Gulf Air links Bahrain with Tel Aviv
Gulf Air made history on September 30th by introducing a non-stop link between Bahrain and Tel Aviv. This follows the Bahrain-Israel peace agreement in 2020, the fourth such pact with Israel after Egypt, Jordan, and the UAE.
Operating on Mondays and Thursdays, the 895 nautical mile route to Tel Aviv uses 136-seat A320neos with 16 in business and 120 in economy. At a celebration on arrival at Tel Aviv, Captain Waleed Al Alawi, Gulf Air’s Acting CEO, said: “We are making history by connecting the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Israel with scheduled commercial flights.
“We welcome our friends in Israel to fly on Gulf Air and visit Bahrain and fly beyond to our extended network. The double weekly flights are just the start, and we will periodically assess the commercial performance to upgrade frequencies whenever feasible and required.”
flydubai starts three new routes
Narrowbody operator flydubai has started three non-stop routes: from Dubai to Budapest, Warsaw, and Ankara. These come very soon after the carrier inaugurated Ljubljana and resumed service to both Zagreb and Prague.
Looking at Budapest (where this photo was taken), the 2,166 nautical mile route is operated four-weekly and has a block time to Hungary of five hours and 55 minutes. The route uses 166-seat B737 MAX 8s with ten seats in business (fully lie-flat) and 156 in economy. The route is head-to-head with Wizz Air (five-weekly), and it coexists with Emirates (four-weekly).
Generally speaking, Emirates and flydubai operate on separate days, ensuring all seven days of the week are served. This partnership is crucial, with Balázs Bogáts, Budapest Airport’s Head of Airline Development, saying that “the arrival of flydubai will boost our capacity to a hugely important international hub. Codesharing with Emirates opens up more than 190 destinations to our passengers, including Asia, Africa, and Australia.”
More routes for restarted South African
After restarting operations on September 24th, South African Airways has added back various routes. In the past few days, these have included Lusaka (September 27th), Harare (27th; where the following photo was taken), Accra (28th), and Kinshasa (October 1st), all from Johannesburg.
South African serves the 646 nautical mile link to Lusaka, the Zambian capital, four-weekly. It now uses the 120-seat A319, with a significant 25-seat business class. It has much direct competition in the current week, especially from Airlink, SAA’s former partner (19 weekly) but also Cemair (nine-weekly), Proflight Zambia (nine-weekly), Royal Zambian Airlines (twice-weekly), and RwandAir (fifth freedom; continuing to Kigali).
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EgyptAir makes history from Cairo to Tel Aviv
A second historic milestone was reached this week involving Tel Aviv when EgyptAir launched its first properly scheduled service from Cairo. Following the 1979 peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, Air Sinai, a subsidiary of EgyptAir, was created in 1982 to operate between Cairo to Tel Aviv. It used aircraft devoid of the Egyptian flag.
While EgyptAir has occasionally operated the route at peak times, it officially launched the 212 nautical mile route on a proper basis on October 3rd. This brought to an end the need for Air Sinai. Initially operating twice-weekly, it’ll double to four-weekly in November and once-daily from the summer 2022 season. All flights are by the 137-seat and all-economy A220-300s.
Mauritius welcomes Eurowings Discover
Mauritius was calling Eurowings Discover, which began Frankfurt to the island country on October 1st. The service, which operates on Tuesdays and Fridays, leaves Germany at 17:35 and arrives the next day at 06:45. It then returns on Wednesdays and Fridays at 08:30, arriving back at 18:05.
The long, 4,955 nautical mile service mainly uses 270-seat A330-200s. These have 231 seats in economy, 22 in business, and 17 in premium economy. However, the larger A330-300 is scheduled to operate soon too. Discover competes head-to-head with Condor, which operates to Mauritius on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays using B767-300ERs.
airBaltic commences Riga to Dubai
Dubai is once again connected non-stop to Riga following the introduction of airBaltic’s four-weekly offering. It uses 145-seat A220-300s, the carrier’s only aircraft type. With a block time to the Latvian capital of nearly seven hours, the 2,332 nautical mile route is now the world’s second-longest by the A220, after only Riga to Tenerife South.
This is the first time in nine years that airBaltic has connected Riga and Dubai, a market driven by tourism. Dubai replaced airBaltic’s Abu Dhabi service, which was served between 2013 and 2020 and had a codeshare agreement with Etihad.
Wizz Air resumes Kutaisi to Krakow
In the past few days, Wizz Air has reinstated its route between Kutaisi, in Georgia, and Kraków. The 1,054 nautical mile route, which first began in April 2019, now runs twice-weekly using a mixture of A321neo, A321ceo, and A320ceo. Kraków is one of five routes from Kutaisi to Poland.
Kutaisi is the LCC airport for the whole of Georgia. It is the country’s second-largest city and is located some 250km from the capital, Tbilisi, with frequent buses available. While Tbilisi has minimal LCC penetration to Europe, Kutaisi has been used to drive development. A brand-new route to Barcelona starts on October 31st.
Austrian again connects Vienna and Montreal
After an 18-month absence, Montréal again has a non-stop service to Vienna following Austrian’s resumption on October 1st. With a block time to Canada of eight hours and 55 minutes, the route sees three-weekly flights. The 211-seat B767-300ER is used, with 26 in business, 18 in premium economy, and 167 in economy.
In 2019, around 40,000 passengers connected over Vienna to/from Montréal, booking data shows. Tehran, Tel Aviv, Chișinău, Cairo, and Bucharest saw the most transit passengers.
British Airways is back in the Maldives
The long-haul route from London to Malé, the capital of the Maldives, resumed on October 1st with British Airways. In the current week, the carrier is deploying four-class, 254-seat B777-300ERs on the 4,610 nautical mile link to the Indian Ocean. However, it’ll rise to once-daily – also by first-class-equipped B777-300ERs – later this month.
BA has served the Maldives since 2009, but it was always from Gatwick. Then COVID happened, and long-haul services, including the island nation, shifted to Heathrow in 2020. However, Malé has previously been linked non-stop from Heathrow – with SriLankan Airlines. Routing Heathrow-Malé-Colombo, and returning to Heathrow via Sri Lanka, it ended in 2012 but resumed briefly in 2017 and 2020.
That’s it for the tenth edition of our routes newsletter. To get something like this in your inbox every week, please sign up for our weekly routes newsletter.