News From Asia 亚洲新闻


Firefly, the regional low-cost subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, has announced the opening of a new base at Senai Airport in Johor Bahru, in the southern state of Johor in June from where it will offer twice weekly flights to Kuching from May 19 and Kota Kinabalu from June 16. The airline plans to base two Boeing 737-400s at the airport to launch international routes later this year, taking advantage of the plans to turn parts of the Johor state into economic zones. Asiana Airlines offers the only international winter flights from Senai Airport with a twice weekly 767 connection to Seoul Incheon. Firefly will also base one of its recently-acquired 737-800s at Kota Kinabalu in the east of the country to double its schedules to Kuala Lumpur from three to six a week.


Goma Air has taken delivery of the first of two Cessna Caravans, which it will use to inaugurate domestic flights to some remote western districts of Nepal. The 14-seat aircraft will be based at Surkhet and will fly to five destinations in the hilly locality, comprising Jumla, Mugu, Humla, Bajhang, and Bajura. The first aircraft, formerly operated by Kenmore Air, completed trial flights last week ahead of the airline’s launch and will be joined by the second example later in the year. The airline will compete with other regional Nepalese operators Kasthamandap Air, Tara Air and Makalu Air in the domestic market, with Akash Bhairav and Highlander Aviation also both understood to be sourcing new aircraft to expand their networks.


Taiwanese carrier EVA Air is to inaugurate a twice-weekly Taipei Taoyuan – Chengdu service on March 28. The carrier will compete directly with its local rival China Airlines and Air China and Sichuan Airlines on the route together operating ten weekly frequencies. Approximately 123,000 O&D passengers travelled between the two destinations in the year ending December 2010 with China Airlines the market leader with a 39 per cent share.


Cathay Pacific Airways has applied for Government approval to almost double its capacity on the Hong Kong – Milan Malpensa route. The airline plans to boost frequencies from four flights per week to a daily rotation from July 2 to match its schedule to its only other Italian destination, Rome Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci International. The airline has witnessed a rise in demand for its flights from Italy and is attempting to boost its own network ahead of any competition entering the market. Approximately 223,000 O&D passengers travelled between Italy and Hong Kong in 2010 with 24 per cent of these using Cathay Pacific’s flights from Rome and 18 per cent its flights from Milan. Cathay Pacific will also add four weekly flights into Indonesia during the Northern Summer schedules. From March 27 its Hong Kong – Surabaya routes will increase from six flights per week to a daily frequency, while also adding a further three rotations on the Hong Kong – Jakarta route, bringing its weekly schedule to 21 flights. The additional links will initially be operated via Singapore but from August 11 will fly direct.


Thai carrier Business Air is planning to launch a daily Bangkok – Tokyo Narita charter service, adding to its existing daily Bangkok – Seoul Incheon route. Subject to Government approval, the new link will be operated between March 15 and May 8. The airline has acquired a former Arkefly Boeing 767-300 which is currently parked at Shannon in the Republic of Ireland undergoing pre-delivery checks ahead of its delivery. According to local reports the aircraft will be configured with 12 Business Class and 256 Economy seats. Meanwhile, the airline is also planning to expand its network to include flights from Phuket to Seoul Incheon and Pusan.


Australian carrier Virgin Blue Airlines has confirmed that it has selected the ATR 72 turboprop to support its regional network strategy as part of its recently announced strategic alliance with Skywest Airlines. The carrier will receive 18 ATR 72s comprising a mix of -500 and the new modernised -600 variant from the middle of this year. The first four aircraft will enter service in 2011, with a further four following in 2012. “The ATR is the best aircraft to operate on regional routes throughout Australia,” said John Borghetti, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Virgin Blue Group. “The ATR will form the foundation of our regional network plans, with the first six ATRs replacing our current Embraer 170 fleet and the additional aircraft flying to new regional destinations.” The ten-year partnership with Skywest will come into effect in the middle of 2011 and will cover existing and new destinations in the country, with Skywest and Virgin Blue offering codeshare connections across their domestic networks. Skywest is also planning to use a new fleet of the same aircraft type on coastal networks in Western Australia, having been recently preferred by the Western Australian Government for a five-year exclusive licence on flights from certain coastal ports to Perth.


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NOTE: Schedule data extracted from Flightbase for week commencing February 14, 2011; Traffic data extracted from IATA BSP system for the year ending December 2010.

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…