Route Analysis: BKK-NRT, SEA-LHR, RIX-KTT

Routes analyzes some of the services returning as well as new routes being launched. This week we look at ZIPAIR Tokyo’s second passenger service; the latest connection planned between Seattle and London Heathrow; and a new leisure destination joining airBaltic’s network.

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.

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi-Tokyo Narita (BKK-NRT)

Carrier:

ZIPAIR Tokyo

Aircraft:

Boeing 787-8 

Frequency:

5X-weekly

Start date:

Oct. 28, 2020

Distance:

4,649 km

O&D traffic demand (2019):

2.6 million

Annual growth:

9.1%

Average base fare (2019):

$325.43

ZIPAIR Tokyo’s first passenger service launched on Oct. 16 after a five-month delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the Japanese LCC to switch to moving cargo. However, weak demand meant that only two travelers were on board the 290-seat Boing 787-8 aircraft for the inaugural flight from Tokyo Narita (NRT) to Seoul Incheon (ICN).

Despite this, ZIPAIR is pressing ahead with the launch of its second passenger service, which will link NRT and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK). Scheduled NRT-BKK flights were originally meant to begin in May, but the Japan Airlines subsidiary ended up launching the route as a cargo-only service in June.

The first passenger flights will now start on Oct. 28, operating 5X-weekly. However, due to Thailand’s ongoing border restrictions, the service will only carry passengers on the BKK to NRT leg. Flights will be on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, subject to government approval.

Prior to the pandemic, seven carriers connected Tokyo and Bangkok, collectively operating more than 130 weekly frequencies. All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines and Thai Airways International linked NRT and BKK, while NokScoot Airlines, Scoot, Thai AirAsia X and Thai Lion Air connected NRT and Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK). All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines and Thai Airways International also served Tokyo Haneda (HND)-BKK.

Seattle-London Heathrow (SEA-LHR)

Carrier:

Delta Air Lines

Aircraft:

Boeing 767-400ER

Frequency:

Daily

Start date:

April 1, 2021

Distance:

7,702 km

O&D traffic demand (2019):

307,339

Annual growth:

9%

Average base fare (2019):

$712.86

Delta Air Lines has firmed up plans to resume service between Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA) and London Heathrow (LHR) having suspended the route in March 2017. Flights will operate daily from April 1, 2021 on board Boeing 767-400ER aircraft.

The SkyTeam alliance member first launched SEA-LHR in March 2014 but ended service three years later, allowing joint-venture partner Virgin Atlantic to take over the route. Delta instead began seasonal service between Portland (PDX) and LHR.

Although transatlantic routes have been severely curtailed because of the COVID-19 crisis, the planned resumption of SEA-LHR next April will see Atlanta-based Delta go head-to-head against American Airlines. In February, American announced a West Coast-orientated alliance with Seattle-based Alaska Airlines, as well as plans to start daily SEA-LHR flights in March 20201.

Prior to the pandemic, Delta’s partner Virgin offered the route daily using daily Boeing 787-9 equipment, while American’s partner British Airways provided a 10X-weekly service on board 777s. 

Riga-Kittilä (RIX-KTT)

Carrier:

airBaltic

Aircraft:

Airbus A220

Frequency:

1X-weekly

Start date:

Dec. 19, 2020

Distance:

1,196 km

O&D traffic demand (2019):

265

Annual growth:

9.5%

Average base fare (2019):

$134.78

A new leisure destination is joining airBaltic’s network this December as the Latvian carrier launches operations to Kittilä, located in northern Finland. The airline plans to operate Riga (RIX)-Kittilä (KTT) flights 1X-weekly from Dec. 19 on board Airbus A220 aircraft. The flight time will be one hour 55 minutes.

Kittilä is a popular ski resort situated north of the Arctic Circle within the Lapland region. The route will become airBaltic’s third connecting Latvia’s capital with points in Finland alongside exiting services from RIX to Helsinki (HEL) and Turku (TKU).  The carrier previously flew between RIX and Tampere (TMP) although service has been suspended since March.

Photo credit: Finavia

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