Airlines are opening up destinations to British visitors with route launches across the globe. Joanna Booth reports
With Virgin Atlantic launching flights to Vancouver, Cancun and Mumbai and Qatar Airways connecting its hub to Mozambique and Yangon, 2012 has rather spoilt us for choice by making exciting new destinations easier to reach.
But what’s in store for the coming year? We take a look at new routes and capacity increases that may affect your clients.
SPAIN TAKES OFF
Clients wanting some winter sun in the Canary Islands will be spoilt for choice. Jet2.com is increasing its winter capacity by 40% -– that’s 86,000 seats. Monarch started flying from the East Midlands to Tenerife and Lanzarote last month, and seat numbers will rise again next summer when Ryanair launches a Manchester-Lanzarote route. The low-cost carrier will also start flying from the East Midlands to Minorca.
Barcelona will get a boost, with British Airways and Vueling starting flights from Gatwick in February and March respectively. BA also began flying to Alicante last month, from Heathrow. The northern Spanish city of Santiago will be a new easyJet destination from Gatwick next year.
MADE FOR THE MED
Mediterranean favourites are getting a boost next summer, with easyJet introducing Kalamata in Greece as a new destination, flying from Gatwick, and also Mykonos and Olbia in Sardinia from Luton.
Ryanair will start flying from Manchester to Corfu, Paphos and the Sicilian airport Trapani.
Croatian options will increase next year, with Jet2.com commencing flights to Pula from Leeds, Ryanair flying from Liverpool to Zadar and BA from Heathrow to Zagreb.
For sunshine all the sooner, Monarch started winter flights to Madeira from Gatwick and Birmingham last month.
Short-haul city-break options are set to expand, with BA launching a Heathrow-Rotterdam route in December and Ryanair flying Manchester-Krakow from next year. EasyJet is starting flights from Stansted to Sofia and from Southend to Berlin and Krakow, but by far its most exciting launch is Moscow, which will be the airline’s 100th route from Gatwick.
North Africa isn’t a hotbed of new routes next year, however there are a handful. Monarch is launching a route from Birmingham to Sharm el-Sheikh, easyJet is offering year-round flights to Sharm and Marrakech from Stansted, and Air Arabia Maroc has just commenced direct flights from Gatwick to both Casablanca and Tangier.
ASIA IN THE AIR
Asian destinations had a good year in 2012, with Virgin starting flying direct to Mumbai, Qatar Airways offering a new route to Yangon in Burma and Emirates starting daily services from Dubai to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Singapore Airlines upped the frequency of its Heathrow flights to four daily at the beginning of the month. BA will start flying to Seoul in South Korea from Heathrow next month, and to Sri Lanka from Gatwick in March.
Cambodia’s Phnom Penh is another new route from the ever-expanding Qatar Airways, with flights starting in February. But perhaps the most exciting of all will come in November 2013, when Thomson Airways will start the first direct flights to Phuket, which will be on the new Dreamliner (see page 14).
Increasing numbers of seats to the States are becoming available. Virgin Atlantic increased capacity on its San Francisco and New York routes this year, and BA started flying from Gatwick to Las Vegas last month. In June, American Airlines will commence flights from Dublin to New York
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