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Other Articles Last modified on November 27, 2016

Route One

Joe Bates reviews the 2016 route development success of a handful of the region’s airports.

A good route network is the life’s blood of any airport and the successful addition and development of new airlines, services and destinations can be transformational for a gateway in terms of its stature, economic impact and public perception.

It is probably not an understatement to say that every airport across the Asia-Pacific region would welcome a new, non-stop service to Europe or North America, which for some of the smaller gateways might finally put them on the map.

While the bigger airports are always looking to expand their passenger appeal and subsequently boost revenues by adding new routes or increasing capacity on existing ones.

What is a new route worth? Well you maybe surprised, as in reply to the question two years ago, the then commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation, Rosemarie Andolino, told me: “When we talk about airports as economic engines, depending on the size of the aircraft and the destination, a new route could add anything from $20 million to $200 million of investment per annum into your city.”

Figures such as these just cannot be ignored and perhaps help explain why airports will go to great lengths to attract new airlines, often offering them a package of incentives ranging from joint marketing campaigns to promote the new service to reduced landing fees or initially waiving them altogether.

The following airports have been busy developing their route networks over the last 12 months.

Christchurch Airport

Airport chief executive, Malcolm Johns, says it has been a good 12 months for the New Zealand gateway in terms of passenger growth and expects the upturn to continue its 2017 financial year (FY17), with trans-Tasman airline capacity forecast to increase by around 15% and international long-haul capacity by around 20%.

“We have also seen domestic airline capacity reach record levels, with Air New Zealand adding additional services between Auckland and Christchurch and also to the regions. This city has never been more connected to Auckland and Wellington, and the regions, than it is right now. Nor has it ever been more connected to the big airport hubs in Australia and Asia as it is right now.

“On the Tasman, Qantas is offering new services from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, to tap into the South Island market growth and feed visitors and residents between the South Island, Asia and Europe through their Australian east coast air service networks. This means Qantas’s international capacity will double at Christchurch over the coming year.

“Long-haul we have worked with China Southern Airlines to establish direct services with Mainland China, with Air New Zealand to introduce the B787 on Perth, and Asiana Airlines to test the market with a new direct service to Korea this summer.

“Our focus over the past two years has been to build strategic partnerships that increase our connectivity to the big airport hubs of Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Auckland, Singapore, Guangzhou, Taipei, Seoul and Dubai, which collectively handle more than 200 million passengers a year.”

The gateway has been further boosted by the announcement that Emirates will soon fly the world’s largest passenger aircraft into Christchurch on a daily basis.

Cambodia connections

Cambodia Airports is celebrating the launch of daily ANA B787-8 Dreamliner flights between Phnom Penh and Tokyo’s Narita International Airport.

ANA, Japan’s biggest airline, has timed the first ever non-stop service between the two countries to allow easy onward connections to North America via Narita.

The inaugural flight was welcomed with an official water cannon salute, and passengers were greeted by ANA flight attendants dressed in Japanese traditional Kimonos specially designed with symbols of Cambodia. 

Éric Delobel, CEO of Cambodia Airports, says: “After the inauguration of the new passenger terminal of Phnom Penh International Airport in March, this is another key milestone for Cambodia airports and its grantor the Royal Government of Cambodia.

“This new direct and scheduled air service between Japan and Cambodia is a great opportunity to increase the traffic between those two countries and a concrete way to both develop tourism and business.”

He added that Cambodia airports looked forward to further co-operating with ANA and other airlines to unlock the full potential of this new route, especially by building onto the airports in Osaka (Japan), managed by parent company VINCI Airports and its partner Orix.

Other route development successes for Cambodia Airports in 2016 include the launch of services to Siem Reap from Danang, Vietnam (Cambodia Angkor Air); Haikou, China (Capital Airlines); Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Thailand (Thai Smile Airways); and commencement of three weekly Hong Kong Airlines services to Hong Kong from Phnom Penh.

New arrivals in Amman

Jordan’s Queen Alia International Airport continues to add new routes and airlines, welcoming Tarco Airlines (Khartoum) in August and low-cost carriers Pegasus Airlines (Ankara) and Fly Jordan (Antalya, Bodrum, Bursa, Istanbul, Sharm El Sheikh, Samsun) earlier in the year.

Queen Alia operator, Airports International Group (AIG), claims that the new arrivals reaffirm its “ongoing efforts to provide new options to international destinations that expand QAIA’s airline network, and stimulate traffic growth at the Kingdom’s prime gateway to the world”.

Talking about the new twice-weekly Tarco Airlines service between Amman and Khartoum, Sudan, AIG CEO, Kjeld Binger, says: “We are very pleased to welcome yet another airline to QAIA’s growing network, underlining our ongoing collaboration with the government of Jordan to market the airport and the country’s tourism industry to airlines, as well as to introduce incentives for newly-established routes.

“We look forward to providing passengers with more flight options by attracting additional regional and international airlines, which subsequently help position Jordan as a dynamic destination for business, leisure and investment within the region.”

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