Editor's note: This analysis, based on data from Flightglobal's schedules specialist Innovata, is focused on major route launches and closures over the past year. The criteria for including new routes is that they have more than nine departures (equivalent of 18 return flights) appearing in Innovata's schedules for August 2015 but not in those for August 2014. The same minimum frequency applies for closed routes, but of course these appear in August 2014's but not August 2015's schedules. New/closed routes with lower frequencies are not captured in this analysis
Flightglobal's Innovata schedules for August show 26 major new routes between Europe and North America during the summer peak, spread across 15 operators. That, though, does include a few services that switched between joint venture partners Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic.
Much of the Atlanta-based carrier's activity was based on the UK, after the joint venture with Virgin was launched in early 2014. Delta launched Manchester-New York JFK in June, as well as entering the London Heathrow-Philadelphia market – where it was immediately joined by American Airlines.
It also began new flights from Heathrow to Los Angeles last winter – a service to be taken over by joint venture partner Virgin this winter. Delta itself took over operation of one of Virgin's Heathrow-Newark daily frequencies last year, while Virgin took over Delta's Atlanta-Manchester flights.
Delta has just disclosed plans to launched daily flights between Heathrow and Salt Lake City, and between JFK and Edinburgh next summer.
Other new route launches planned for next summer include British Airways' daily Boeing 787-9-operated flights to San Jose International airport from Heathrow in May.
A large number of new transatlantic routes added over the last year were at least daily, but frequency has been lower on the connections added from Asia to Europe. Innovata schedules data shows there were 21 new routes with nine or more frequencies added since last August between Asia and Europe – just five fewer than added between Europe and North America. But lower frequencies deployed on the new routes mean they account for less than half the number of frequencies – 370 departures (740 return flights) – as were added on the European-North American market.
New flights between Asia and Europe were more widely spread across carriers, as 17 airlines launched new flights in the market. Much of that came from the Asian side, including new flights from five Chinese operators as well two more from Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific. Notably, the new Chinese connections linked to destinations beyond the big three Chinese gateways, including flights to Chengdu, Kunming, Urumqi, Xiamen and Xi'an.
On the Europe side, Alitalia – revamping its operations after Etihad acquired a stake in the SkyTeam carrier – launched services from Milan Malpensa to Shanghai and from Rome Fiumicino to Seoul. On the latter route, Star Alliance carrier Asiana Airlines has also begun flights this summer. Alitalia, though, dropped its Rome-Osaka flights, as well as its twice-weekly Venice-Tokyo Narita service.
Another European carrier, Virgin Atlantic, dropped its daily flights to Tokyo and Mumbai in January as part of its focus on transatlantic operations – though hinted it would look to resume the routes if a third runway were developed at Heathrow.
There has been a huge jump in routes connecting Europe to the Middle East. Innovata schedules show 25 new connections with more than two weekly flights, and just three services dropped over the same period.
Much of that activity is based around the three major Gulf hubs of Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai.
Emirates launched daily services from Dubai to Brussels, Budapest and Oslo over the last 12 months, while low-cost unit Flydubai has begun services into five central/eastern European destinations.
Qatar Airways launched services into Amsterdam, Sofia and Zagreb over the last year, while Etihad began flights into Edinburgh and Madrid from Abu Dhabi. Services into Abu Dhabi were supplemented by new flights from Etihad's European partners Air Berlin, Alitalia and Niki.
Innovata schedules show 19 routes with more than twice-weekly frequencies launched since last August between North America, excluding Mexico, and Asia.
This covered 14 carriers, with only China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines and United adding more than one route. SkyTeam carrier China Southern has added flights to San Francisco from Guangzhou and Wuhan; and fellow Chinese airline Hainan now connects Shanghai with Boston and Seattle, as well as serving San Jose from Beijing.
Star Alliance carrier United has added flights to Shanghai from Guam, San Francisco to Tokyo Haneda, and Los Angeles to Melbourne. The latter route, which launched last October, marked the first international deployment of its new Boeing 787-9.
There were 24 new thrice-weekly services operating between Asia and the Middle East in August, figures from Innovata show. Much of the new capacity focused on the big Gulf hubs of Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai.
Etihad was the most active of the big Gulf carriers operating from these bases, adding daily flights from Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong, Kolkata and Phuket over the last 12 months. The Gulf carrier launched Hong Kong flights in June and is also codesharing with Hong Kong Airlines on the route. Oneworld carrier Cathay Pacific ended its flights between Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi last year.
Many of the new routes added between the two focus on connections linking India to the Middle East.
NORTH AMERICA-MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA
Since last August, Etihad is the only one of the big Gulf three – whose expansion into the USA has caused such ructions with the big US carriers – to add new routes to the USA. The UAE carrier has been daily flights to San Francisco to Abu Dhabi and thrice-weekly services to Dallas/Fort Worth.
Emirates this month, though, begins its 10th US service when it launches flights from Dubai to Orlando.
Qatar Airways meanwhile will add daily flights from Doha to Los Angeles in January, Boston in March and Atlanta next July.
Innovata data shows a wide range of new routes operating between North America, excluding Mexico, and South America this August. A number of the routes cover Brazil. Local operators Azul and TAM have both added flights – Azul linking Sao Paulo with the Florida cities of Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, while TAM has introduced services from Orlando to Brasilia.
Fellow LATAM Group carrier LAN has also begun flights from Orlando to Lima, while Southwest Airlines now links the Florida city to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
Source: Cirium Dashboard