Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Brussels Airlines offers more flexibility on its flights to and from Africa

With effect of this week, Brussels Airlines increases its flexibility with new travel options on its routes to and from Africa. The new offer contains for the first time a one-bag fare, which is the cheapest choice for the price-conscious passengers who are travelling with limited luggage.

Economy class guests travelling to or from one of Brussels Airlines’ 17 Sub-Sahara destinations will from now on have the option to book a one bag-fare in case they are travelling light and do not require ticket flexibility. A second travel option is the Standard fare, including two checked bags and free advanced regular seat reservation. The third option within the Economy Class is the Flex fare, ideal for passengers who like extra legroom and more flexibility as a change and refund are free. Next to an Economy Class, the airline also offers a Business Class and soon a brand new Premium Economy Class.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Emirates schedule the A380 to go to Edinburgh

Emirates A380                               Photo Emirates
The Dubai based mega-carrier, Emirates has confirmed that the flagship of its fleet, the double-decker Airbus A380 aircraft will be flying to Scotland a little later this year.

For the first time ever the carrier will be scheduling the giant aircraft to operate its Dubai - Edinburgh service.  The jet will take up the route between 16th April and 31st May 2019. 

The Emirates A380 daily service, with a total capacity of 489 seats, will replace the double daily Boeing 777-300ER service during the Dubai Airport Runway closure. 

From 1 June 2019 until 30 September 2019, Emirates will resume operating a double-daily service to Glasgow with one daily Boeing 777-300ER and one Airbus A380, offering additional capacity to meet increased travel demand during the summer season.

Virgin lead consortium ups price for Flybe.....

It's been just days since Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus came together to put in an official deal for the troubled regional airline, Flybe, which could lead to the birth of the Virgin Atlantic brand flying small regional thin routes in the UK.

Many in the industry see the dilution of the so-called sacred Virgin Atlantic brand in this way would almost certainly prove to be disastrous in the long run for Virgin Atlantic. Although some have a more positive appreciation of the Virgin Atlantic brand on domestic and European travel.

FlyBe's share price tumbled down on news of the offer of £2.2 million from the Virgin lead consortium, called 'Connect Airways'  - nothing to do with the Swiss Connect Air that ran between 2004 and 2008 or the Connectair, the feeder airline for British Caledonian in the 80's which went on to become Air Europe Express.

Interesting to note, that one of the few people buying FlyBe shares is one William Andrew Tinkler, the former boss of Stobart, who just happens to be involved in a rather acrimonious legal dispute with the company. Apparently, Tinkler and two other leading business people were looking at taking over Flybe or merging it with Stobart Air many many months ago!

Earlier today, Tuesday 15th January, the bid for FlyBe had to be increased to £2.8 million and a bridging loan mentioned in the original announcement was declined, although Flybe didn't say exactly why. However, a revised Bridge Facility of up to £20 million from Virgin and Stobart, to provide funding to Flybe Limited, of which £10 million will be released today to support the business. In addition, a number of improved agreements with banks have also been reached today to improve liquidity was agreed.

Ryanair’s East Midlands Flight First To Land At New Murcia International Airport

Ryanair, the low-cost-high-fee budget carrier today became the first airline to land at the new Región de Murcia International Airport, which was officially opened by his Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain.

Ryanair’s new daily service from East Midlands airport was the inaugural arrival to Murcia International Airport, one of Ryanair’s 9 Summer 2019 routes to/from Birmingham, Bournemouth, Dublin, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, London Luton, London Stansted and Manchester, which will help deliver 660,000 customers p.a. through Región de Murcia International airport this year.

29 business organisations representing over 25,000 companies across the region come out in support of Gatwick’s growth plans

29 companies and business organisations that together represent over 25,000 companies across Sussex, Surrey, Kent and London have come out in support of Gatwick’s plans. The open letter to Stewart Wingate, the airport’s CEO, is signed by organisations including Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Business and sector specific associations.

In the letter, the business organisations describe Gatwick as ‘a linchpin of the regional economy and a significant national asset’ that contributes ’over £5bn to UK GDP and supports 85,000 jobs.’  It goes on to say:

Red sky at night...............Virgin's new No and Low Cocktails....

Virgin Atlantic is in the news at the moment, firstly for its joint bid to take over troubled UK regional airline FlyBe, Secondly because the airline, majority owned by Delta, it is launching a no and low alcohol cocktail menu on some of its flights.

The No Lo menu has been designed in partnership with Seedlip, the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits and Regal Rogue, the Australian quaffing vermouth and is available across in Economy, Premium and Upper Class cabins.

The menu has been created to offer customers choosing not to drink alcohol onboard, a grown up option with unique flavours.

Finnair introduces CO2 offsetting and biofuel service for customers

Finnair today introduced a service, where its customers can offset the CO2 emissions of their flights by supporting a CO2 emission reduction project or reduce emissions by buying biofuel. Push for change service is available on Finnair web pages at www.finnair.com/pushforchange and customers can also use Finnair Plus frequent flyer points to pay for the service. 


Finnair offsets the CO2 emissions of its own personnel’s duty travel through the CO2 emission reduction project. 

Delta's December and 2018 results

The US giant carrier Delta Air Lines has this week reported its latest financial results for last month and the whole of 2018.

According to the figures, Delta made an adjusted pre-tax income of $5.1 billion last year!  Adjusted pre-tax income for the December quarter 2018 was $1.2 billion driven by over $700 million of revenue growth, allowing the company to fully recapture the $508 million increase in adjusted fuel expense and produce an 11% adjusted pre-tax margin.  Adjusted earnings per share increased by 42 % year over year to $1.30.

For the full year, adjusted pre-tax income was $5.1 billion, a $137 million decrease relative to 2017 as the company overcame approximately 90% of the $2 billion increase in fuel expense.  Full year adjusted earnings per share were $5.65, up 19% compared to the prior year as the company recognized benefits from tax reform and a four % lower share count.

“2018 was a successful year for Delta with record operational reliability, increasing customer satisfaction, and solid financial results in the face of higher fuel costs.  Delta people are the foundation of our success and I am honored to recognize their efforts with $1.3 billion in profit sharing for 2018,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive officer.  “As we move into 2019, we expect to drive double-digit earnings growth through higher revenues, maintaining a cost trajectory below inflation, and the modest benefit from lower fuel costs.  Margin expansion is a business imperative and we remain confident in our full-year earnings guidance of $6 to $7 per share.”

Monday, 14 January 2019

The Airbus A220 gets approval to operate further away from airports, paving the way from transatlantic operations


A220 airliner wins approval from Transport Canada for
180 minutes ETOPS capability


A major step in the operational development of the Airbus A220, the aircraft formally known as the Bombardier CSeries jet, occurred with the awarding of approval from Transport Canada for 180-minute extended operations (ETOPS*).

Yes, the newest addition to the Airbus family, the A220, has received 180-minute extended operations (ETOPS*) approval from the Canadian civil aviation authority, Transport Canada. This approval allows the A220  to be able to perform new direct non-limiting routings over water. It can now, operate up to 180 minutes from the nearest airport. This could mean that an airline might want to put an A220 on a route from London, or elsewhere in the UK to New York. Many might think that no airline would put a single-aisle small aircraft on a transatlantic route. But, the UK's British Airways has an all business class/club world Airbus A318  operating between London City Airport and New York's JFK. The aircraft has a 50-minute refuelling stop in Shannon on the way out, where passengers pre-clear US customs.  The A220 already has the ability to operate in and out of London City Airport, so maybe in the not too distant future, we could see the type crossing the Atlantic.


Emirates 2019 schedule adjustments

One of the world's leading airlines, Emirates is making a number of adjustments to its operational schedules in 2019 designed to minimise the impact of the closure of Dubai International Airport’s Southern Runway in April and May 2019.

The airline has also outlined its fleet plans for the year, Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline, said: “At Emirates, we pride ourselves on being a customer-focused airline with a commercially-driven business model. We invest in a modern and efficient aircraft fleet so we can offer industry-leading comforts to our customers, and we are agile in deploying our aircraft to destinations where it best serves customer demand.

“The changes we are implementing to our network schedules in 2019 are in line with this approach, taking into consideration global market dynamics and operational limitations including the maintenance work on Dubai Airport’s Southern Runway. Through the year, we will continue to keep a close watch on global markets and will maintain our flexibility to optimise the usage of our aircraft assets.”

A significant number of scheduled Emirates flights will be impacted by the closure of Dubai International Airport’s Southern Runway for maintenance work between 16 April and 30 May 2019.

Given the limitations around operating flights using a single runway at its hub, many Emirates flights will be cancelled, re-timed or have the operating aircraft changed in order to reduce impact on customers. This will result in up to 48 Emirates aircraft not being utilised, with a 25% reduction in the overall number of flights operated by the airline during the 45-day period.

Malaysia Airlines Reinstates Flights to Kochi

Malaysia Airlines today announced its return to Kochi with its inaugural flight on 31 March 2019.

The airline will be flying daily Kochi via MH108, serviced by the B737-800, which will depart Kuala Lumpur at 10.40pm and arrive Kochi at 12.01am the following day. The return flight, MH109 will depart Kochi at 1am and will arrive Kuala Lumpur at 7.50am the same day.

Malaysia Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer, Captain Izham Ismail said, “Due to increasing demand, we are happy to announce our return on the daily Kuala Lumpur-Kochi route. India has always been an important market and therefore, reinstating Kochi makes business sense. We also have recently increased capacity on the Kuala Lumpur-Mumbai route by swapping one of the B737-800 aircraft to the widebody A330-300 as this shows our commitment to the India market.”

Malaysia Airlines will be having a special promotion in conjunction with its inaugural flight, for travel from 31 March 2019 until 31 August 2019. From now until 20 January 2019, customers can look forward to fly from as low as RM299 all-in return on Economy Class to Kochi and from as low as RM899 all-in return on Business Class.

These special fares include 30kg baggage allowance on Economy Class or 40kg baggage allowance on Business class, complimentary meals and inflight entertainment.     -- -
(Images Malaysian Airlines)

Air Canada Announces Improvements to Capacity Purchase Agreement with Jazz Aviation and Equity Investment of $97.26 million in Chorus

                           Air Canada today announced an agreement to amend and extend the Capacity Purchase Agreement (CPA) with Jazz Aviation LP, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chorus Aviation Inc., under which Jazz currently operates certain regional Air Canada Express flights. The amendments should provide long term stability for Chorus, reaffirming Jazz as Air Canada's most significant Express carrier well into the future, as well as enabling growth on Chorus' leasing business through Air Canada's equity investment and the predictability of Jazz's cash flow from CPA operations until 2035.  The amendments will bolster the strength and competitiveness of the Air Canada Express brand and its coast-to-coast regional network, and provide significant CPA savings for Air Canada, while optimising network and fleet flexibility when compared to the current agreement.


Amendments to existing Capacity Purchase Agreement (CPA) with Jazz will extend duration of the CPA by ten years from January 1, 2026 to December 31, 2035; Amendments are subject to ratification of a tentative collective agreement between Jazz and ALPA on behalf of its pilots.
Amendments will simplify and modernise Jazz's fleet and provide additional regional fleet flexibility for Air Canada; Projected annual CPA savings of $50 million in each of 2019 and 2020 from both fixed fee and performance incentive reductions.
Upon Amendments becoming effective, Air Canada will make an equity investment of $97.26 million in Chorus and Michael Rousseau, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Air Canada, will be appointed to Chorus' Board of Directors.

AirAsia major system upgrade causes long downtime.....

Budget carrier AirAsia will be upgrading its Navitaire New Skies reservation system this weekend as part of its continuing effort to provide guests with an enhanced online experience.

The low-cost airline says that flight booking will be unavailable during this period from 2.00pm on Saturday, 19 January 2019 (GMT +8) to 3.00am on Sunday, 20 January 2019 on airasia.com. This downtime will also halt reservations on the AirAsia mobile app, at AirAsia sales offices, counters and call centres.

Passengers will also not be able to perform self-check in via the web, mobile app or more importantly at airport kiosks. They also will not be able to manage their bookings until the upgrade is completed.

Frontier Airlines’ Pilots Ratify Five-Year Collective Bargaining Agreement


The low-cost carrier that some say is putting passenger safety at risk, by fostering and promoting the belief that cabin crew members are just waiters and waitresses with the introduction of mandatory tips on inflight sales as agreed on a deal with its pilots.  

Frontier Airlines and its pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), announced the ratification of a new five-year working agreement today. Of the 99 percent of pilots who voted, 77 percent cast ballots in favor of the agreement.

Frontier Airlines’ agreement with ALPA includes an average 53 percent across-the-board pay increase on date of signing, double-digit direct contributions to pilots’ retirement plans, and $75 million in ratification compensation.

Alaska Air Group reports December 2018 and full-year operational results

Photo Alaska Airlines
Alaska Air Group Inc. today reported December and full-year operational results on a consolidated basis, for its mainline operations operated by subsidiaries Alaska Airlines Inc. and for its regional flying operated by subsidiary Horizon Air Industries Inc. and third-party regional carriers SkyWest Airlines and Peninsula Airlines.

On Jan. 11, 2018, Alaska and Virgin America consolidated their operations onto a Single Operating Certificate. Results for Alaska and Virgin America have been combined into a single mainline operation.    

Finnair opens new routes to Sapporo and Punta Cana for winter 2019/2020

As part of its growth strategy, Finnair will open a new route for the winter 2019/2020 season to Sapporo, Japan. Finnair will fly the new route from Dec 15 to 27 March with two weekly frequencies. Sapporo is well known as a great winter and skiing destination offering stunning landscapes and fantastic winter-themed activities in a traditional Japanese setting. Sapporo will be Finnair’s fifth destination in Japan, in addition to Tokyo Narita, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka.

“Japan is a key market for us, and we are excited about adding Sapporo to our network” says Christian Lesjak, Senior Vice President, Network and Resource Management. “Finnair is the only European airline to fly a scheduled route to Sapporo, and with five key Japanese cities in our network, we are now the largest European carrier flying to Japan.”

Finnair will also be opening a new weekly flight to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. The flight to Punta Cana will be operated with an Airbus A350 aircraft once a week between 13 December and 27 March. The Dominican Republic is a favourite destination during the winter for sun-seeking travellers, offering fantastic sandy beaches and great family resorts, and excellent golf courses. Finnair also flies once a week to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic during the winter season.

As announced earlier, Finnair will also increase flights to Hong Kong during winter 2019/2020, with double daily flights to Hong Kong continuing from the summer 2019 season throughout the winter season. Finnair flies to seven cities in Greater China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Chongqing, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.   

Cancun welcomes Swoop's inaugural flight from Hamilton

The ultra low-cost carrier from Canadian giant WestJet, Swoop celebrates its inaugural flight between John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport (YHM) and Cancun International Airport (CUN). The four-hour non-stop flight departs Hamilton at 8:00 a.m. EST and arrives Cancun at 11:59 a.m. EST.

The Cancun International Airport and tourism partners are welcoming travellers upon landing with a water arch, live mariachi band, refreshments and gift bags.

This marks Swoop's third inaugural flight to Mexico this month with service to Puerto Vallarta kicking-off from Hamilton and Abbotsford last week. Swoop will celebrate one more inaugural on January 20, 2019 between Abbotsford and Mazatlán.

"Mexico is one of the leading value destinations this winter," said Karen McIsaac, Senior Advisor of Communications at Swoop. "Cancun, particularly known for miles of pristine beach, is being enjoyed by more Canadians who are choosing to fly with Swoop and are spending their savings on activities to enhance their total vacation experience."     

15 dead after cargo plane crash in Iran

At least 15 people have been killed by in the crash of a Boeing 707 cargo aircraft near the Iranian capital, Tehran. 

According to local reports, the vintage Boeing 707 veered off the runway, went through a wall and collided with a house near the airport.  The aircraft had been trying to land at Fath airport in Karaj, some 25 miles west of the Iranian capital of Tehran.  The weather is reported to have been considered 'poor' at the time of the incident.

It is understood the aircraft was carrying meat and other supplies from the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps controlled Fath airport base.  

Local TV is reporting that the aircraft's black boxes have been found at the scene and that that out of 16 people onboard the aircraft, only one had survived - said to be the flight engineer. Also reported by the local media is that aircraft was confirmed to be owned by Iran and all onboard were of Iranian nationality. 


Images from the scene seem to show the aircraft was adorned with the civilian airline livery of the Iranian Air Force. It is unclear at this stage if the 707 was supposed to be landing at Fath or had mistaken the airport from the nearby commercial Payam International Airport, which has a much longer runway. 


Some Iranian and local regional commentators believe the US imposed sanctions have had a negative impact on the Iranian aviation industry, forcing airline and operators in the country to fly aircraft long after their airworthiness could no longer be assured. 

 (Photos EPA).

Lion Air crash black box found

Officials from the Indonesian search and rescue have found and retrieved the cockpit voice recorder from the Lion Air Boeing 737 that crashed killing 189 people in October 2018.

The rescue teams also found human remains at the same location in the Java Sea local officials have confirmed. However, the bright orange cockpit voice recorder had broken in two when it was located in around 165ft or 50m away from where the fight data recorder black box had been found in November. 

It is hoped that the recorder will help to provide crucial insights into the last moments of flight JT610, to help pinpoint what went wrong and how much the faulty equipment on the latest Boeing 737 model contributed to the crash.    

The Indonesian navy confirmed the recorder had been damaged and had been found in water that was approximately 321ft / 98m  deep and was buried in mud said to be 8th down.  A spokesperson from the navy confirmed that a weak signal from the recorder had been detected several days ago and was slowly retrieved.
 

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Tip the next big thing?

Fancy tails trolling for tips                                                                                         Photo Frontier
Just before 2019 dawned,  JT Genter over at TPG alerted us to an unusual sight, cabin crew from a US budget carrier virtually demanding a tip for selling overpriced drinks on a flight. 

The Indigo Partners airline, Frontier, has introduced a change to its inflight service which now means its in-flight point of sales machines now require a 'gratuity' to be entered when purchasing something from the food and beverage carts.  

Of course, the airline might say, there is an option to decline to pay the tip, however, the castigating looks, tuts and huffs from the cabin crew not to mention the accusatory looks from your seatmates when you click on the 'I prefer not to leave a gratuity' button would surely embarrass most passengers into pressing the minimum amount of 15%!

Photo TPG 

Also,  there is the fear that you'll not be served if you don't tip the crew, who are already earning a wage for pushing the cart passed your seat. Will they still come around a second time if you don't supplement their incomes with excess tipping? Will, they still give you attention in an emergency situation if the tip is skipped when you purchased that $5 can of fizzy pop from them? 


Is this new and rather worrying development from Frontier the latest technique in the USA for airlines to take more of our hard earned cash?  Is tipping about to become commonplace in the industry?   We decided to ask some of the leading US carriers if they planned to follow Frontier in demanding tips from passengers. 
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