Melbourne Orlando’s first long-haul route from Manchester will be joined by seven more this year, the first time the airport has seen long-haul service. It comes as TUI Airways (UK) moved from Orlando Sanford.
It also means that Melbourne again has international flights, with its last three years ago in April 2019. Canada’s Porter Airlines had long Dash-8-Q400 routes from Toronto City, Ottawa, and Windsor.
Aside from the inevitable significant financial incentives to attract TUI, the leisure airline has moved to Melbourne to be closer to Port Canaveral, from which its cruise passengers will travel. It is half as far as from Sanford, although ‘only’ about one in every five of its Melbourne passengers (around 30,000) will go on a cruise.
However, at about 70 miles (113km), Melbourne is much farther from Universal Studios and Disney World, the destinations for the bulk of its traffic. It reaffirms the importance of incentives.
Eight long-haul routes to the UK
TUI inaugurated Manchester to Melbourne on March 22nd. According to Flightradar24, the first departure utilized G-TUIB, a 300-seat B787-8.
It was delivered to the carrier (or rather Thomson Airways, as it then was) in 2013. Like the rest of TUI’s B787-8s, it has 47 premium recliners (2-3-2 layout) and 253 seats in regular economy (3 -3-3).
The UK operator will have eight routes to Melbourne this year. Next to start is Doncaster Sheffield, with the carrier’s remaining routes listed below by start date, based on TUI’s website:
- Doncaster Sheffield: starts on March 27th; 1x weekly
- Birmingham: March 28th; initially 2x weekly but rises to 3x
- London Gatwick: March 28th; 3x weekly
- Glasgow: May 2nd; 2x weekly
- Bristol: May 4th; 2x weekly
- Newcastle: May 6th; 2x weekly
- Edinburgh: June 30th; 1x weekly
Note that Gatwick was originally to have a 2x weekly offering, but it has increased to 3x. However, Manchester, which was to be 5x weekly, will now have up to 4x.
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A larger international network
Highly unusually for a US airport, Melbourne will have a more extensive international network this summer season (starting March 27th) than domestic.
Its domestic network encompasses seven routes versus eight international. Four domestic routes started since the pandemic struck, including all by Allegiant. Note that Melbourne’s domestic network will shrink to five from May and that Elite’s services to Newark will end on March 25th, the penultimate day of the winter season.
- Atlanta: Delta; 4x daily departures; in order of flights: B717, A320, A319, A321
- Charlotte: American Eagle; 3x daily; CRJ-900, CRJ-700
- Concord: Allegiant; 2x weekly; A320, A319; began November 2021
- Pittsburgh: Allegiant; 2x weekly; A319, A320; started November 2021
- Nashville: Allegiant, 2x weekly; A320, A319; began November 2021
- Washington National: American Eagle; up to 2x weekly; ends on April 30th; CRJ-900
- Dallas Fort Worth: American Eagle, just once as it ends on April 2nd; CRJ-900; started February 2021
The arrival of TUI is crucial to Melbourne’s fortunes. This summer, international is three-quarters of the airport’s seats for sale. Source of data: Cirium.
Has Doncaster, but not New York
While Orlando Melbourne has long-haul service and core hub service to Atlanta and Charlotte, it has no route to New York or Boston or, from May, Washington. As you’d expect, they’re Melbourne’s largest unserved markets.
What are your views on it all? Let us know in the comments.
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