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APA1 2024 NEWS

Routes and destinations

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We take a look at some of the milestone route launches to have taken place across the Asia-Pacific and Middle East region this year.

The heat really is on airports when it comes to route development as their airline customers, and the routes and destinations they serve, will play a major factor in their future growth and development.

With so much at stake it is a very competitive business, and with the airlines only having so many aircraft at their disposal, it invariably means that airports compete against each other to try and convince carriers to launch new services or expand their existing networks.

In fact, the market is so tough, it can take an airport many years to win over an airline when it comes to launching a new route, which is why you can be assured that the groundwork for most of the new routes mentioned below probably started prior to the COVID pandemic.

DELTA AIR LINES COMING TO BRISBANE

In another big win for Queensland, Delta Air Lines is set to spread its wings by commencing services to Brisbane from December this year.

The announcement heralds another leap forward in connectivity and, according to Brisbane Airport (BNE), is poised to further invigorate Queensland’s tourism and export sector.

Delta Air Lines will launch with three weekly seasonal flights from Los Angeles to Brisbane, marking a further boost in trans-Pacific capacity. The news means that by Christmas 2024, BNE will be home to four giants of North American aviation: Delta, American Airlines, United and Air Canada. The airport is also quick to note that including Qantas flights, from December, the number of seats between Brisbane and mainland North America will leap to 144% of pre-COVID capacity.

“We are very proud Brisbane Airport will become Delta’s second destination in Australia,” enthused Brisbane Airport CEO, Gert-Jan de Graaff. “Brisbane is charting unprecedented territory, witnessing an unparalleled level of interest from North American visitors. This strategic move by Delta Air Lines not only fortifies the ties between the United States and Queensland but also signifies a boost for the local visitor economy.

“American tourists love visiting Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Noosa, travelling north to savour the wonders of The Great Barrier Reef and west to experience the Outback. I’m not sure if it is the upcoming Olympics or the insatiable appetite for Bluey, but right now Brisbane is the ‘must add’ destination for North American carriers, and this opens a world of opportunity.”

Delta Air Lines operates over 4,000 daily flights to nearly 280 destinations on six continents and will operate 306 passenger capacity A350-900s on the new Brisbane route.

BUSY START TO YEAR FOR PERTH

New routes and returning services continue to boost the route network at Perth Airport, with South African Airways becoming the latest airline to add the gateway to its timetable.

Talking about the return of non-stop flights to Johannesburg operated by A340-300 aircraft, Western Australia’s deputy premier and minster for tourism, Rita Saffioti, said: “This inaugural non-stop service operated by South African Airways represents a significant milestone in our state’s aviation recovery, providing direct connections for the substantial South African community residing in Western Australia.

“We’re really excited this service between Johannesburg and Perth has been reinstated, which brings massive advantages for our state’s tourism industry and, of course, marks the 19th international destination we have secured direct links to since the pandemic.”

While Perth Airport CEO, Jason Waters, admitted that it was great to see South African Airways back after a four-year break.

He said: “Our remarkable partnership with SAA has spanned 67 years, so we are incredibly pleased to have them flying to and from our port again.

“The service will initially operate three times per week, delivering 78,936 seats to the Perth market, and we look forward to working closely with South African Airways to return this to a daily service.”

BONZA DAY IN NEWCASTLE AIRPORT

Newcastle Airport recently celebrated the first anniversary of its successful partnership with Australia’s newest airline, Bonza, which it reveals has significantly boosted regional aviation and connectivity.

Indeed, the airport admits that Bonza has been a game changer for the travel experience to Newcastle, connecting the people of the Hunter region to two popular destinations, the Sunshine Coast and the Whitsundays.

Newcastle Airport CEO, Dr Peter Cock, says: “We are thrilled to celebrate one year of Bonza flights from Newcastle Airport. This partnership has been an amazing addition to our route network and for our region.

“The introduction of Bonza has not only expanded our network but has also played a pivotal role in boosting our passenger numbers, with our February record, exceeding our numbers vs pre-COVID-19 for the first time. We’ve always known our region loved to travel, we’re blown away by the overwhelming support by the wider region.

“We’re excited to continue to add to our route network with Bonza and provide more options for our region to travel at a low cost.”

JAPAN AIRLINES RETURNS TO DOHA

Hamad International Airport (DOH) has welcomed the first-ever flight to the Middle East by a Japanese airline following the launch of Japan Airlines’ (JAL) daily B787-9 flights between Tokyo Haneda and Doha, Qatar. bSujata Suri, DOH’s senior vice president of finance and procurement, said: “The launch of Japan Airlines’ daily flights from Tokyo Haneda to Hamad International Airport is a landmark achievement and a testament to the flourishing partnership between both Qatar and Japan.

“Combining Japan Airlines’ latest launch with Qatar Airways’ recent resumption to Osaka, is projected to result in a 50% increase in weekly flight frequency between Qatar and Japan, which underscores Hamad International Airport’s commitment to advancing global travel and enhancing passenger experiences”.

Japan Airlines becomes the 10th oneworld airline to serve Hamad International Airport, with the service expected to stimulate travel demand and foster stronger trade ties between Qatar and Japan.

AIR CANADA RETURNS TO SINGAPORE CHANGI

Singapore Changi has welcomed the return of Air Canada, which is now operating four weekly flights between Singapore and Vancouver International Airport. The flight is the only non-stop service operating to Canada from the Singapore gateway.

“I am pleased Air Canada has chosen YVR to host the only non-stop flight between Canada and Singapore,” said Tamara Vrooman, president and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority.

“We welcome this new service which will grow tourism, support increased trade, and importantly, connect families and friends across the Pacific region. The launch of service to Singapore speaks to the continued investment Air Canada is making in Vancouver, which in turn benefits our community and the regional economy.”

BEIJING CAPITAL TO PRAGUE SERVICE

Hainan Airlines is to resume direct services between Beijing Capital International Airport in China and Prague Václav Havel International Airport in the Czech Republic on June 24.

Talking about the significance of the service, Jiří Pos, chair of Prague Airport’s board of directors, noted: “While a record 600,000 tourists from China arrived in the Czech Republic in 2019, last year there were only 90,000 Chinese visitors. I firmly believe that the resumed direct connection to Beijing will be just the right stimulus for the further development of inbound tourism from China.

“The connection to Beijing will also be a great opportunity for Czech tourists to not only explore the Chinese capital but, thanks to connecting flights, also the whole of China and Asia.”

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