Asian aviation tidbits

TD Guest Writer

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Asiana will fly to Indonesia from July
Asiana will fly to Indonesia from July

Asiana to add Indonesia flights

Asiana Airlines has announced plans to launch two new routes to Indonesia. From 19 July 2013, the South Korean carrier will commence daily flights between Seoul’s Incheon International Airport and Jakarta, then a week later on 25 July, it will launch twice weekly flights to Bali. The Jakarta service will operate using a 290-seat Airbus A330-300, while the Bali service will utilise a 250-seat Boeing 767-300. Flights have already opened for sale.

ANA flies daily to San Jose

ANA will increase its flights between Tokyo Narita and San Jose next month. From 10 July 2013, the Japanese carrier will add two more weekly flights to the Californian city, taking the total frequency to daily. ANA operates the route using its Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and only resumed the trans-Pacific service earlier this month following the aircraft’s four-month grounding. The Dreamliner operating the route features just 158 seats – 46 in business class and 112 in economy.

AirAsia boosts KL-Bangkok flights

AirAsia is increasing the number of flights it operates between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. From 16 August, the low-cost carrier will add a 10th daily flight on the route, with a new service departing Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport at 1250, and a return service leaving KL at 1625. All flights will be operated using an all-economy, 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft.

Air China to resume Okinawa flights

Air China's off to Okinawa
Air China’s off to Okinawa

Air China has announced plans to resume flight to Okinawa. The Beijing-based carrier first launched services to the Japanese island in January 2012, but suspended flights later that year as heightened Sino-Japanese tensions affected demand for flights. But from 3 July 2013 the route will be revived, operating twice a week (Wednesdays and Saturdays) using a Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Virgin Australia expands Etihad codeshare

Virgin Australia has expanded its codeshare agreement with Etihad Airways to cover the latter’s flight to Milan and Amsterdam. Effective this month, Virgin Australia will place its ‘VA’ code on Etihad’s daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Milan and daily services from the UAE capital to Amsterdam. Both services are operated using two-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Vietnam Airlines to launch Seoul-Danang flights

Vietnam Airlines will boost its services to South Korea next month, with the launch of a new direct service connecting Seoul with Danang. Commencing on 1 July 2013, the new route will be operated with three weekly flights. It will compete against the existing six weekly flights to Danang offered by Seoul-based Korean Air and Asiana Airlines.

United to connect San Francisco with Chengdu

United will fly its Dreamliner to Chengdu
United will fly its Dreamliner to Chengdu

United Airlines has unveiled plans to launch its first direct flights between the US mainland and the Chinese city of Chengdu. Announced by the US carrier’s CEO Jeff Smisek at the Fortune Global Forum 2013, the new route will launch in April 2014, operating four times a week direct to and from San Francisco. The new 15-hour trans-Pacific route will be enabled by United’s new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Tianjin Airlines adds new Xinjiang flight

Tianjin Airlines has announced plans to launch a new route in Xinjiang, a region in the far northwest of China. From 16 June, the airline will commence flights between the region’s capital Urumqi and Natali – a scenic area in the northwest of Xinjiang. Flights will operate daily during the summer season, using an Embraer E-190 aircraft. Natali becomes Tianjin Airlines’ fourth tourist destination in Xinjiang, following Yinin, Aletai and Turpan.

Asian airport traffic climbs

Passenger traffic at airports in the Asia Pacific climbed again in April. According to the latest data from Airports Council International (ACI), the region experienced a 4.6% rise in passenger numbers during the month, with international growth (+5.1%) again outpacing domestic (+4.4%). The rate of growth has slowed however; the combined results for the first four months of the year show passenger numbers up 5.8%, including a strong 7.7% increase in international traffic. Beijing, Tokyo Haneda and Hong Kong were the region’s three busiest airports in April.

Firefly launches Johor-Pekanbaru flight

Firefly operates at fleet of ATR 72-500s
Firefly operates at fleet of ATR 72-500s

Firefly will launch a new service between Johor Bahru, in southern Malaysia, and the Indonesian city of Pekanbaru this summer. From 1 August 2013 to 31 July 2014, Malaysia Airlines’ regional carrier will offer four weekly flights between the two cities, departing Johor at 1020 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The return leg will leave Pekanbaru at 1100. All flights will be operated using a 72-seat ATR-72-500 turboprop aircraft.

Nepal Airlines to buy Airbus jets

Nepal Airlines has secured financing for two new Airbus A320 aircraft. The Kathmandu Post reported this week that the national carrier has agreed a NPR9.8 billion (US$107 million) loan for the single-aisle jets, and will now place the firm purchase order with Airbus. The firm order follows an initial agreement penned with Airbus in March. Under the deal, the two A320s will be delivered in February and March 2015.

Air NZ pens Turkish codeshare

Air New Zealand has signed a new codeshare agreement with its Star Alliance partner, Turkish Airlines. The new tie-up will see Air New Zealand place its ‘NZ’ code on Turkish Airlines’ flights from London Heathrow, Los Angeles and Hong Kong to Istanbul, as well as its services between Istanbul and the Turkish capital, Ankara. In return, Turkish will place its ‘TK’ code on a series of Air New Zealand’s domestic and trans-Tasman routes, as well as on flights from LA to London and Auckland, and from Auckland to Hong Kong.

EVA flies to Inner Mongolia

EVA will fly to Inner Mongolia
EVA will fly to Inner Mongolia

Taiwan-based EVA Air has launched a new direct flight to the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia. The new service between Taipei and the Inner Mongolian capital, Hohhot, took off for the first time on Monday and will now operate three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, using an Airbus A321 aircraft. It becomes the first direct flight between Taiwan and Inner Mongolia.

THAI announces A380 London launch

Thai Airways International (THAI) has announced the launch date of its Airbus A380 services to London. Flights using the 507-seat aircraft will commence on 1 December 2013, operating seven days a week between London Heathrow and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airports. Its second daily flight will be operated using an Airbus A340. The A380 used on the London route will be the sixth and final superjumbo delivered to the national carrier.

MAS adds KL-Phuket flights

MAS flies a Boeing 737-800 to Phuket
MAS flies a Boeing 737-800 to Phuket

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has added another daily flight to Phuket. Effective 1 June, the airline now offers four daily flights from Kuala Lumpur to the Thai resort island, with two morning departures leaving at 0455 and 0930, and two afternoon flights departing KLIA at 1305 and 1710. All flights are operated using a Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

New airport opens in Hefei

A new airport has opened in the eastern Chinese city of Hefei. The city’s new Xinqiao Airport started operating on 30 May 2013, and all flights to the Anhui province city will now be directed to the airport, instead of the former Hefei Luogang International Airport. The new airport features one runway and a 108,500m² terminal building, and is intended to handle 11 million passengers per year by 2020. A second phase will then expand it to 42m passengers by 2040.

Tianjin Airlines connects far northern China

Tianjin Airlines has announced plans to launch a new flight to China’s most northerly town, Mohe. From 13 June 2013, the airline will launch daily flights between Tianjin and Mohe, which is located in the far north of Heilongjiang province, on the border with Russia. Flights will operate via Heilongjiang’s capital, Harbin, using an Embraer ERJ-190 aircraft.

Spring Airlines to fly to Phuket

Spring Airlines is flying to Phuket this summer
Spring Airlines is flying to Phuket this summer

Chinese low-cost carrier, Spring Airlines, has announced plans to launch three weekly flights to Phuket. Commencing on 26 June, the new service will operate three times a week direct from Shanghai. Flights will depart Pudong airport every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, returning from Phuket the following day, using an all-economy Airbus A320 aircraft. Phuket becomes Spring Airlines’ second destination in Thailand, following Bangkok, which it launched in August 2012.

Garuda adds Medan-Penang flights

Garuda Indonesia has launched a new route connecting Medan with Penang. The service, which commenced on 1 June 2013, will now operate twice a day using a 96-seat, two-class Bombardier CRJ1000 aircraft. Flights depart Medan, northern Sumatra, at 0605 and 1355 each day, while the return leg leaves the Malaysian island of Penang at 0840 and 1635. The launch marks the latest stage in Garuda’s expansion from Medan, from where it recently launched services to Batam, Padang and Palembang.

AirAsia to connect Singapore and Makassar

AirAsia has announced that it will launch flights between Singapore and the Indonesian city of Makassar. From 1 July 2013, the low-cost carrier will operate four weekly flights on the route, using an all-economy 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft. The addition of Makassar, on the island of Sulawesi, means that AirAsia will offer direct flights from Singapore to six Indonesian cities – Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Bali, Semarang and Makassar.

Citilink receives new A320

Citilink unveils its new A320
Citilink unveils its new A320

Indonesian low-cost carrier Citilink has taken delivery of a brand new Airbus A320 aircraft. The carrier, which is a subsidiary of Garuda Indonesia, welcomed the aircraft to Jakarta last week, and will now put it into service on domestic routes from the Indonesian capital. The new single-aisle jet becomes the 29nd aircraft in Citilink’s fleet and its 22nd A320. It comes configured in an all-economy class layout with 180 seats.

Qatar Airways suspends Seychelles

Qatar Airways will cease operating flights to the Seychelles this September, due to “commercial reasons”. The last daily service will leave Doha on 31 August 2013. Despite the cancellation of services, the airline’s CEO, Akbar Al Baker, said the route had been “hugely popular” since its launch in 2004, and that he “looked forward to the day when we can resume operations” to the islands. Qatar Airways’ rival, Etihad Airways, recently took an equity stake in Air Seychelles.

AirAsia offers free Mandalay shuttle bus

AirAsia is now offering free shuttle bus transfers between Mandalay Airport and the city centre. The service will operate the 45km journey twice a day, at 1245 and 1300, to coincide with the arrival of the airline’s direct daily flight from Bangkok. The 45-60 minute journey will drop off passengers at 79th Street in central Mandalay. The return service departs daily from downtown Mandalay at 0900 and 0915.

ANA paves way for SE Asian expansion

ANA is planning to expand in Southeast Asia
ANA is planning to expand in Southeast Asia

ANA has taken the first step in its Southeast Asian expansion strategy, by setting up a new investment company in Singapore. Officially called Strategic Partner Investment Pte Ltd, the new unit started operating this week and will enable ANA Holdings’ to make new strategic investments in the region. According to ANA, the company will focus on “improving synergies with ANA Group’s airline business and maximising earnings”.

Virgin adds Western Australia flights

Virgin Australia has announced plans to increase its services in Western Australia. The airline will add three extra weekly services between Perth and Karratha, in the state’s Pilbara region. The extra flights will depart on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays using a 98-seat Embraer E-190 aircraft, and take the route’s total frequency to 34 flights per week.

Malindo Air flies to Sibu

Malindo Air has launched its first flight to Sibu, in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. The airline’s Boeing 737-900 aircraft touched down at Sibu for the first time on 11 June, following a flight from Kuala Lumpur. The low-cost carrier will now operate the route daily. Sibu becomes Malindo’s third destination in Sarawak, following Kuching and Miri.

Firefly adds holiday flights

Firefly has announced plans to add a series of new flights for the forthcoming Hari Raya holidays. From 2 August to 17 August, the Malaysian regional carrier will increase flights to Kota Bharu, Pekanbaru, Koh Samui and Penang from its Subang hub. It will also add more services from Penang to Phuket and Johor Bahru. All flights will operate using ATR 72-500 turboprop aircraft.
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