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The Most Notable New Airline Routes This Week

Welcome to my 92nd weekly routes newsletter! I’ve covered a few subjectively exciting routes that took off recently. Why not sign up and receive my newsletter in your email inbox every week?

Trois French cities for Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways now has passenger flights to three French cities. It follows the July 3rd launch of Doha to Lyon, which uses the Boeing 787-8. Note that fellow Middle East hub carrier Emirates added Lyon to its network in 2012.

Flight QR51 leaves Doha at 08:25 and arrives in Lyon at 14:10 local. Returning, QR52 departs at 16:35 and arrives home at 23:35. It is, as ever, about maximizing two-way connections.

The new route means that Qatar Airways currently has 28 weekly flights to France, joining triple daily service to Paris CDG (some by the A380) and four weekly to Nice. Services will soon rise to 32 weekly following the July 18th introduction of Toulouse.

Kazakhstan welcomes Pakistan flights

Kazakhstan’s SCAT Airlines has started Almaty to Lahore, a different and exciting new route, celebrated with cake. It appears to be the first time the 829-mile (1,334 km) airport pair has been served and the first time since 2005 that Pakistan has had any Kazakhstan flights at all.

The new route took off on July 8th and operates twice weekly. While the first flight used the Boeing 737 MAX 8, presumably for photo and celebratory reasons, all the rest are due to see its 144-seat, all-economy 737-300s which average 28.6 years. Old, yes, but certainly with much character – particularly to an avgeek.

3,000-mile-plus Boeing 737-300 route

It is highly unusual for my Notable Routes stories to reference the increasingly rare Boeing 737-300, but there are two this week! The second is thanks to Venezuela’s Aerolíneas Estelar, hamstrung by sanctions, which has resumed Caracas-Santiago-Caracas after last serving it in 2020. (Conviasa flew it in 2022 using the A340.)

Operating twice weekly via Lima to refuel, Estelar appears to leave Venezuela at 10:00 and arrive in Chile at 20:30 local. Remaining overnight, it departs at 07:00 and returns at 16:30. When the tech stop is included, it covers 3,227 miles (5,194 km), which is long-haul territory. But, of course, it is a one-stop service.

Second Canadian route for Emirates

Emirates has inaugurated Dubai to Montreal, enabled by the loosening of the Canada-UAE bilateral air service agreement. The 6,611-mile (10,640 km) route operates daily using first-class-equipped Boeing 777-300ER. It is the first time that Montreal has had UAE flights.

In 2019, the Montreal-Dubai point-to-point market consisted of 22,000 roundtrip passengers. That was not many and will need to grow. Passengers can also connect over Montreal to certain Canadian and US cities with Emirates partner Air Canada.

Obviously, most passengers will connect over Dubai. The top 25 targeted markets had 445,000 roundtrip passengers in 2019, with Beirut the largest.

Zambia gets Cape Town flights

Proflight Zambia has started its next route: from Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, to Cape Town. Covering 1,423 miles (2,290 km), it runs twice-weekly using the 50-seat CRJ-200. It is its third city in the country, alongside Durban and Johannesburg. Cape Town was last linked to Zambia in 2012 and was – not surprisingly – Lusaka’s largest unserved African market in 2019.

Operating twice weekly, flight P050 leaves Lusaka at 08:00 and arrives at 11:30. Returning, P051 departs at 12:15 and arrives back at 15:35. According to Flightradar24.com, 23.3-year-old 9J-PFZ has operated all flights so far, and the first flight back home took a whopping 3h 19m.

Source: Simple Flying