Routes In Brief: Rolling Daily Updates (W/C Jan. 3)

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Welcome to our rolling daily coverage of new routes alongside services that are scheduled to resume.

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Jan. 7

Air Astana, the flag carrier of Kazakhstan, is resuming services from Nur-Sultan (NQZ) today, offering international flights to Dubai and Moscow and domestic services to Atyrau, Shymkent and Turkestan. Additional international flights to Frankfurt and Kutaisi in Georgia will resume on Jan. 8, and to Istanbul on Jan. 9. However, Almaty Airport (ALA) remains closed in the wake of recent events, but all Air Astana staff and passengers from the city remain safe, the airline said in a statement. Flights to and from Kazakhstan have been disrupted since Jan. 5 after protestors seized Almaty airport. Demonstrations have erupted across Kazakhstan after a cap on energy prices was removed.

Canada’s Air Transat is cutting about 30% of its flights over the next two months, blaming the impact of the Omicron variant as well as “restrictive measures” put in place by government. The reduced flight schedule will remain in place through Feb. 25. Meanwhile, Air Canada said in a flight advisory that it is suspending service to at least 14 Caribbean destinations "in light of the current pandemic context," effective Jan. 24 through April 30.

Jan. 6

SunExpress, the joint venture between Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa Group, plans to launch nonstop scheduled service between Antalya (AYT) and Vilnius (VNO), the capital of Lithuania. The carrier intends to offer up to 7X-weekly flights from April 1. Aurimas Stikliūnas, head of aviation services at Lithuanian Airports, said the launch of new direct flights would further enhance connectivity and bring even more opportunities to reach the Turkish leisure destination, popular among Lithuanian holidaymakers. Until now, SunExpress had operated chartered flights between Lithuania and Turkey on behalf of several tour operators.

US carrier Avelo Airlines has announced plans to more than double its nationwide network of destinations from 19 to at least 40 markets after raising $42 million in Series B funding. The airline initiated service in April 2021 from its first base at Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR) and launched a second base at Tweed-New Haven (HVN) last November. “This additional capital significantly bolsters our already strong balance sheet and enables the acceleration of Avelo's growth trajectory in 2022 and beyond,” Avelo CEO and chairman Andrew Levy said. Avelo currently has a fleet of three Boeing 737-700s and three 737-800s and intends to add a further nine aircraft this year.

Air Malta intends to consolidate its flight schedule in January and February by reducing frequencies on certain routes—but has vowed not to cancel any of the 16 routes it is operating this winter. The airline blamed a “dramatic downturn in demand” for the reduction, caused by the introduction of new travel restrictions across Europe following the spread of the Omicron variant. “We are taking such decisions to match customer demand and avoid flying near empty aircraft,” executive chairman David G Curmi said.

Indian LCC IndiGo is reinstating 4X-weekly flights between Delhi (DEL) and Port Blair (IXZ) effective Jan. 9. OAG data shows the airline last operated the route in March 2021. Port Blair is the capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, an Indian territory in the Bay of Bengal. “These flights will enhance connectivity and promote tourism, trade, and commerce on the island,” IndiGo chief strategy and revenue officer Sanjay Kumar said. Flights will operate on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

Jan. 5

AirAsia Philippines has announced plans to expand its domestic network and explore new international opportunities. The LCC said it intends to increase the number of domestic points served from 14 in 2021 to 18 in 2022 alongside evaluating new routes to destinations in the Middle East, the US and Australia. “AirAsia Philippines joins the entire aviation community in hoping and planning for a stronger 2022 as it believes that domestic tourism will be one of the major pillars of economic recovery post-pandemic,” the carrier said in a statement.

Vietjet has resumed flights between Hanoi (HAN) and Tokyo Narita (NRT). The route will initially be operated once a week using Airbus A321s. “We believe that the aviation industry will take the lead in restoring the economy and trade between Vietnam and other countries, ensuring safety, pandemic prevention, meeting the travel needs of people and tourists,” MD Dinh Viet Phuong said. OAG data shows Vietjet’s international flights from Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) to Singapore (SIN) will also restart on Jan. 9.

LATAM Airlines Group has inaugurated a new domestic route in Colombia between Bogota (BOG) and Neiva (NVA). Service will be daily using A320s. LATAM’s entry to the Bogota-Neiva market will add competition for Avianca and Easyfly. Meanwhile, LATAM Airlines Ecuador has also started a new route, linking Quito (UIO) and Catamayo (LOH). Flights started Jan. 4 and are offered 3X-weekly.

LOT Polish Airlines has confirmed plans to relaunch nonstop flights between Budapest (BUD) and New York John F Kennedy (JFK) in June. The route first started in May 2018 and operated until the onset of the pandemic. Service will resume with three round trips per week using 787 aircraft. “The demand for new routes and the propensity to travel in the Hungarian and international markets are growing in parallel with the demand for direct flights,” BUD head of airline development Balázs Bogáts said. “New and re-launched flights thus play a key role in Budapest Airport’s traffic recovery, following the coronavirus outbreak.”

Jan. 4

Argentinian LCC Flybondi has resumed international flights to Brazil and Uruguay. From Buenos Aires Ministro Pistarini (EZE), the airline plans to serve Florianopolis (FLN) in Brazil six times per week, increasing to 8X-weekly by the end of the month. Rio de Janeiro Galeao (GIG) will initially receive two flights per week, rising to four by the end of January, while Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) will be 2X-weekly. The carrier will also fly to Punta del Este (PDP) in southeastern Uruguay three times per week. “After more than a year and a half without flying internationally, we return with very good occupancy levels, which shows the recovery that the sector is going through,” Flybondi CEO Mauricio Sana said.

Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) has announced the resumption of two long-haul routes from June. Flights from Kyiv (KBP) to Toronto (YYZ) will return on June 1, operating twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Service from Ukraine’s capital to New York John F Kennedy (JFK) will also recommence on June 2 with four flights per week on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. UIA intends to deploy Boeing 777-200ER aircraft on the routes.

Norwegian startup Norse Atlantic Airways aims to launch its maiden transatlantic flights in spring after receiving its air operator’s certificate (AOC). As previously reported by Routes, the carrier hopes to begin flights from Oslo Gardermoen (OSL) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL), New York Stewart (SWF) and Ontario (ONT) outside Los Angeles.

Romania’s Blue Air is reducing operations in January and February due to low demand expected throughout Europe because of the omicron variant. The airline said service would be cut to “a minimum” over the next two months. However, it expects a more stable travel environment from April onwards, enabling for the expansion of capacity and routes during the summer 2022 season. “We remain cautiously optimistic that, as of April, demand will not only go back to pre-COVID period but exceed the 2019 levels,” CCO Krassimir Tanev said.

Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings is adding a Hamburg (HAM)-Gothenburg Landvetter (GOT) route from May 1. Four flights per week are planned and the service will become the LCC’s second from Gothenburg in addition to a route from Dusseldorf (DUS). HAM-GOT was previously served by Czech Airlines, but the route was suspended at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.