Route Analysis: RST-DEN, HHQ-CNX, LHR-MME

Routes analyzes some of the services returning as well as new routes being launched. This week we look at three new domestic routes opening in the US, Thailand and the UK.

Nigel Mayes RAM18 resized.jpgNigel Mayes is the senior vice president, consulting and product development at ASM. Nigel has more than 15 years’ experience in route development and is responsible for product development at ASM.

ASM is the world’s leading route development consultancy and has supported the creation of new air services since 1993.

Rochester-Denver (RST-DEN) 

Carrier:

United Express

Aircraft:

CRJ200

Frequency:

Daily

Start date:

Oct. 1, 2020

Distance:

1,102 km

O&D traffic demand (2019):

5,461

Annual growth:

-2.9%

Average base fare (2019):

$196.89

United Express is launching a new service from Rochester International (RST) in Minnesota to Denver International (DEN) from Oct. 1, operated by affiliate SkyWest Airlines. The flights will provide travelers access to United’s global network via its DEN hub, offering one-stop access to 37 new cities from RST. The route will be flown onboard a 50-seat CRJ200 aircraft.

The launch of the service is a welcome boost for RST, which has seen its connectivity cut during the COVID-19 crisis. The airport previously had connections to Atlanta (ALT) and Minneapolis/St Paul (MSP) with Delta Air Lines; and Chicago O'Hare (ORD) with American Airlines and United. However, Delta’s flights to ATL and United’s to ORD remain suspended, although the ORD route will return on Oct. 1 alongside the new DEN service.

In February, RST was awarded a $750,000 Small Community Air Service Development Program grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, designed to help secure a new nonstop service to a western hub. As well as providing better outbound connectivity, Rochester is a renowned medical center and so the new RST-DEN route will offer important inbound service for patients attending the city’s Mayo Clinic. 

Hua Hin-Chiang Mai (HHQ-CNX)

Carrier:

Thai AirAsia

Aircraft:

Airbus A320

Frequency:

2X-weekly

Start date:

Aug. 7, 2020

Distance:

689 km

O&D traffic demand (2019):

0

Annual growth:

N/A

Average base fare (2019):

N/A

As talk grows that Thailand is unlikely to reopen its borders to international leisure visitors this year, the country is aggressively promoting domestic tourism to stimulate economic recovery post-COVID-19. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the tourism sector accounted for 19.7% of Thailand's GDP in 2019, with 5.2% of GDP generated from domestic tourism. 

Carriers are therefore responding by increasing their number of domestic routes on offer. Thai AirAsia has opened two new services from the beach resort city of Hua Hin (HHQ), a destination previously unserved by the LCC. The flights connect HHQ with Chiang Mai (CNX) in the north and Udon Thani (UTH) in the northeast. The biweekly services depart every Friday and Sunday and mean Thai AirAsia is now operating more than 30 domestic routes since it resumed services on May 1.

To further increase its domestic market share, the carrier has also opened a new hub at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK), returning to the airport after an absence of almost eight years.

HHQ-CNX was last served between 2015 and 2017 by Kan Air. However, the route has remained unserved since the airline ceased operations in April 2017. Thai AirAsia will be hoping its low fares will stimulate demand.

London Heathrow-Teesside (LHR-MME)

Carrier:

Eastern Airways

Aircraft:

Embraer E170

Frequency:

Daily

Start date:

Sept. 14, 2020

Distance:

344 km

O&D traffic demand (2019):

546

Annual growth:

94%

Average base fare (2019):

$93.33

Teesside International (MME) in the northeast of England will regain a link to London Heathrow (LHR) from next month after an absence of more than a decade. Regional carrier Eastern Airways is launching its first ever schedule flights from LHR on Sept. 14, linking the capital city with MME daily using a 76-seat Embraer E170 aircraft.

Since restrictions have been eased following the coronavirus crisis, Eastern Airways has reintroduced MME flights to Aberdeen (ABZ) and Belfast City (BHD), as well as starting new routes to London City (LCY) and Newquay (NQY). The airline, a former franchise partner of defunct carrier Flybe, said the daily MME to LHR departures are timed to maximise the array of connections from LHR. Eastern will compete with British Airways, which offers LHR flights from nearby Newcastle Airport (NCL) using Airbus A320 aircraft.

According to data provided by Sabre, O&D traffic between MME and the city of London was just 546 passengers in 2019. However, with new routes operating to LHR and LCY, Eastern will be hoping to capture a share of passengers from neighbouring towns and cities of Middlesbrough, Durham and Sunderland who fly to London from NCL. O&D traffic between NCL and London in 2019 totaled almost 130,000 passengers.

Photo credit: Joe Pries

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