The Air Service One weekly news round-up: Friday 1 March 2024

Air Service One weekly news round-up

It was another pretty quiet week for new route launches in Europe and North America. Air Service One identified just seven new routes across the two regions. These were [date of first flight, weekly frequency]:

  • airBaltic starting service between its main base in Riga and Alicante [27/2, 2-weekly]
  • American making Ocho Rios (IATA code OCJ) in Jamaica the newest airport it serves (from Miami) [24/2, 2-weekly]
  • Breeze launching its first route to Evansville (IATA code EVV) in Indiana (from Orlando) [23/2, 2-weekly]
  • SAS adding a weekly service from Stockholm ARN to Kalamata in Greece [24/2, weekly]
  • Sun Country now serving Houston HOU from Minneapolis/St. Paul [23/2, weekly]
  • Transavia adding Oslo to its network from Eindhoven [29/2, 3-weekly]

Another significant new route was started by American between Dallas/Fort Worth and Barcelona on 23 February. The route operates daily only until 2 March, but will then resume daily from 4 April for the rest of the summer season. The two airports do not appear to have been connected before with non-stop flights. The nine flights in February and March appear to be related to the Mobile World Congress trade show that took place in Barcelona from 26-29 February


Air Serbia cancels contract with Marathon Airlines

Following the incident at Belgrade Airport on 18 February, when an Embraer E195 operated by Marathon Airlines (IATA code O8) on behalf of Air Serbia sustained significant damage after coming into contact with the airport’s ILS array during take-off, the Serbian carrier has cancelled its contract with the Greek airline. Marathon Airlines had four E190/E195s based at Belgrade this winter, three painted in Air Serbia colours. According to the damaged aircraft (OY-GDC) is still in Belgrade while two other aircraft (E190 reg SX-PTM and E195 reg SX-RMA) returned to Athens on 20 February and 21 February respectively. The ‘spare’ aircraft (E195 reg OY-GDA, painted in Great Dane colours) still appears to be in Belgrade.

According to Cirium data for a week in January, Marathon Airlines was operating 65 departures per week from Belgrade involving 21 routes. The busiest days were Mondays (13 departures) and Fridays (12 departures) and the routes ranged from sub 300-kilometres routes to Podgorica and Tivat in Montenegro, to the 1,400-kilometres route to Amsterdam. For that week in January, Marathon’s operations accounted for 18% of Air Serbia’s flights, 17% of seats and 10% of ASKs. For more about what changes Air Serbia has made to its summer schedules as a result, click here.

Shannon AIrport

Airport traffic statistics for January 2024

Air Service One has now collected January passenger data for well over 280 airports across Europe. Since last week we now have complete airport data for the following countries (versus January 2023 / versus January 2019): Denmark (+4%, -17%), Germany (+12%, -22%), Ireland (+4%, +6%), Netherlands (+14%, -7%) and Switzerland (+10%, -8%). Shockingly, the German domestic market has still not even recovered to 50% of its pre-pandemic demand level.

In addition, we now have January data for all of the top 12 airports in France (see graph below) and from the following individual airports; Aberdeen (-21%, -43%), Basel (+13%, -11%), Cologne Bonn (+5%, -33%), Dortmund (+10%, +22%), Düsseldorf (+14%, -33%), Gibraltar (-8%, -22%), Glasgow GLA (+7%, -18%), Hamburg (+13%, -23%), Knock (+13%, +4%), Nürnberg (+7%, -21%), Prague (+29%, -13%), Pristina (+22%, +70%), Riga (+1%, -10%), Rotterdam (+8%, +43%), Shannon (+6%, +14%), Skopje (+59%, +60%), Southampton (+8%, -58%) and Stuttgart (+15%, -36%).

Top 12 French airports in January 2024

Only two of France’s top 12 airports have fully recovered their traffic in January compared with 2019. While Ryanair has helped grow Paris BVA traffic by more than 40% versus 2019, Toulouse traffic is still down more than 20%. Air France/HOP! have cut capacity by 53% (and are now operating just three domestic routes compared with eight in 2019), while easyJet has cut available seats by 41% during the last five years. This includes having dropped routes to Berlin, Liverpool, London LTN, Milan MXP, Paris CDG, Rome FCO, Seville, Tenerife TFS and Venice VCE. Curiously, easyJet operates far fewer flights from Toulouse in the normally ‘peak’ summer months of July and August than it does during the other summer months. Presumably the aircraft can be used more profitably elsewhere in its pan-European network. Passenger traffic data for Toulouse confirms that the airport’s peak months for demand in 2023 were June and September.

SWISS cancels planned Rotterdam route

One of the new routes that was supposed to have launched this week was between Zurich and Rotterdam which was going to have been operated 3-weekly (Mondays, Fridays and Sundays) by SWISS using A220-300s. However, the 580-kilometre route has now been cancelled indefinitely, supposedly because of slot issues during the summer season at the Dutch airport. Rotterdam operates under an environmental noise limit procedure and it seems this new planned service would have contributed to exceeding that limit.

Notable new route announcements

We have identified the following recent new route announcements involving airports in Europe and North America:

  • Allegiant: Announced 10 new routes starting in June.
  • Breeze: Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (IATA code MHT) to Charleston (2-weekly from 14 June), Fort Myers (2-weekly from 2 October), and Orlando (2-weekly from 14 June).
  • Cyprus Airways: Has added two new routes to Greece starting in early July; Corfu and Kos will both be served 2-weekly until early September.
  • easyJet: Will add Salerno Amalfi Coast Airport in Italy to its network with the launch of five routes from 11 July from its bases in Basel, Berlin, Geneva, London LGW and Milan MXP. It becomes the second airline after Volotea to confirm flights from the re-opened airport.
  • easyJet: The airline’s base in Nice will welcome new routes to Agadir (2-weekly from 3 September), Athens (2-weekly from 28 May), Malta (2-weekly from 27 May) and Prague (2-weekly from 10 October). A new service between Basel and Malta will also be launched on 18 May, operating 2-weekly. After an almost 10-year absence, easyJet will resume service between Newcastle and Amsterdam with 2-weekly flights from 5 September.
  • Eurowings: Will serve Sfax in Tunisia weekly from both Cologne Bonn (8 July to 26 August) and Stuttgart (24 July to 4 September).
  • Frontier: Announced 17 new routes starting in May across multiple airports spanning the US and Caribbean.
  • SAS: Announced it will connect Copenhagen with Oslo TRF  from 28 April. Initially flights will be 4-weekly increasing to 6-weekly. This follows the decision by KLM to terminate its Amsterdam to Oslo TRF services from the end of March. SAS will service the route using ATR 72-600s operated by Xfly of Estonia.
  • Smartwings: Will operate weekly flights from Prague to La Palma from 4 June until 1 October.
  • Vueling: From 31 March the LCC will connect Barcelona and Milan LIN with 2-weekly flights.
  • Wizz Air: Budapest to Brasov (3-weekly), Brussels BRU (5-weekly), Bucharest (daily, previously served S18), Stuttgart (5-weekly), Valencia (3-weekly) and Yerevan (2-weekly). All routes will launch between 17 and 19 June using A321neos. Stuttgart will become a new airport in the ULCC’s network.

London Southend Airport