12 June, 2024

Lufthansa launches direct flights from Raleigh-Durham to Frankfurt

Lufthansa, the German carrier has started a new non-stop service between Frankfurt and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.  

Lufthansa’s expansion in North Carolina not only strengthens its presence in the region but provides Carolinians with even more options for direct travel to Europe. The new Raleigh-Durham to Frankfurt route, coupled with the existing Charlotte to Munich flight, creates a robust network for seamless connections across Europe and beyond. North Carolina residents now have a world of possibilities at their fingertips, including a direct link to the main business hubs, hi-tech companies and R&D centres of Europe, as well as to high-in-demand places for business travel, such as the Middle East and India. The airline has been flying to Charlotte for nearly 20 years, and together with the RDU flight, Lufthansa now serves North Carolina with 12 weekly frequencies to both of its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.

"Lufthansa is thrilled to bring Raleigh-Durham International Airport its first-ever nonstop connection to Frankfurt, and Germany as a whole," said Dirk Janzen, Vice President Passenger Airlines Sales, The Americas, Lufthansa Group  "This new route will provide travelers throughout North Carolina with seamless access to Lufthansa Group’s worldwide network, opening up a world of possibilities for business and leisure travel, and helping to further the Group’s goal of connecting people, cultures, and economies."

Flight LH408 departs Frankfurt (FRA) at 10:20am and lands at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) at 1:50pm. The return flight LH409 departs Raleigh-Durham at 3:40pm and arrives back in Frankfurt at 6:05am the following day. All times are local. The new Raleigh-Durham service will operate five times weekly on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with an Airbus A330-300 in a three-class configuration. The aircraft includes 42 Business Class, 28 Premium Economy and 185 Economy Class seats to accommodate 255 passengers.

“The launch of service to Frankfurt was 10 years in the making, dating back to our early conversations with Lufthansa in 2014 and culminating in today’s arrival of the first nonstop flight from Germany to RDU,” said Michael Landguth, president and CEO of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority. “We are thrilled to welcome Lufthansa as RDU’s newest international airline partner and provide convenient service to another European gateway."

Frankfurt and beyond

Frankfurt, Germany’s most international city, offers a rich culture and history. The Frankfurt Rhine-Main metropolitan region is one of Europe’s leading economic centers and home to many tourist attractions and sights, including world-class ballet, opera, theaters and art exhibitions. As Germany’s fifth largest city, it is the nation’s financial powerhouse—home to the German Central Bank and the European Central bank, which manages the euro. It is also the gateway to Germany’s robust hi-tech scene.

Lufthansa at Frankfurt Airport

When arriving in Frankfurt, most passengers usually connect to other flights. With Lufthansa Group, customers can easily connect to over 300 destinations worldwide through Lufthansa Group carriers, as well as code share flights with United Airlines and Air Canada, the airline group’s North American partners.  Lounge offerings in Frankfurt offer a variety of options for those premium passengers that find themselves waiting for the next leg of their trip. Lufthansa lounges vary from a Welcome Lounge that has private showers, warm breakfast offerings and quiet spaces to rest or work to a multitude of First and Business Class lounges that provide a tranquil respite for guests.

Lufthansa expansion across the United States

Following a summer of exciting route expansions, Lufthansa's newest addition of Raleigh-Durham marks the Group carriers’ 26th gateway in the United States. With this, Lufthansa and its group subsidiaries now operates some 400 weekly flights to the United States.  This dedication to expanding the Lufthansa footprint across North America is further evidenced by the recent launches of a non-stop route from Seattle to Munich and Minneapolis-Saint Paul to Frankfurt, as well as increased capacity from Munich to Washington D.C. with an A380.


The New Service in Brief

RouteFlight numberFlight daysDeparture – Arrival (local times)
Raleigh-Durham – FrankfurtLH409

5x weekly

(Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday)

3:40pm – 6:05am (+ 1 day)
Frankfurt – Raleigh-DurhamLH408

5x weekly

(Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday)

10:20am – 1:50pm


The Cathay Group welcomes back its last aircraft from long-term overseas parking

The Cathay Group celebrated the completion of one of the most unprecedented undertakings in its 77-year history when on 6 June 2024, it reactivated the 85th and final aircraft to be long-term parked overseas. 

After nearly four years in the Australian desert, Cathay Pacific’s Airbus A330 registration B-HLV returned to Hong Kong, where it will now undergo an extensive hangar maintenance check. B-HLV was the first of the Cathay Group’s aircraft to go into long-term parking overseas on 28 July 2020, as global air travel came to a near-standstill during the pandemic.

At the height of the pandemic, Cathay Pacific and HK Express had to park the majority of their passenger fleet at Hong Kong International Airport and overseas in Alice Springs, Australia and Ciudad Real, Spain. As the pandemic began to subside, the Cathay Group commenced the progressive reactivation of these aircraft. This involved the performance of a rigorous series of maintenance checks and inspections to ensure safety and performance.

Chief Operations and Service Delivery Officer Alex McGowan said: “Parking and reactivating so many aircraft is a once-in-a-lifetime undertaking, the scale and complexity of which has never been seen before at Cathay. ​ An incredible amount of work goes into keeping an aircraft safe and protected when it isn’t flying, and to then reactivate it for entry back into regular service. To do this for more than 85 aircraft long-term parked overseas, as well as to manage the large number of aircraft that were parked in Hong Kong, is a phenomenal achievement. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department for their invaluable support throughout this process.

Heydar Aliyev International Airport special spotting event.....

Heydar Aliyev International Airport, together with the national air carrier of Azerbaijan AZAL, are holding a special aircraft spotting event on June 22, 2024.

A unique opportunity will be created for professional and amateur aviation photographers to capture in photographs the takeoff and landing of aircraft of the airport’s partner airlines, their towing, and the work of the airport’s ground services. Participants will also be able to visit AZAL aircraft and get acquainted with the updated design and comfort of the aircraft.

The event will be accompanied by employees of the Main Aviation Security Directorate.

Due to limited seating, pre-registration is required to attend the event. Applications are accepted from June 11 to June 20 via a special form available at the link: https://forms.gle/GtCit8X7R6LPsBgm8. A response confirming participation in the event will be sent after reviewing the application.

Please note that all aviation enthusiasts over 18 years of age can take part in spotting.


Comarch and Azerbaijan Airlines partner to enhance AZAL Miles loyalty programme

Comarch, a global provider of advanced IT systems, has begun implementing its Comarch Loyalty Management platform for Azerbaijan Airlines, the national carrier of Azerbaijan. With this implementation, travellers will benefit from the innovative AZAL Miles loyalty programme by earning points and redeeming them for desirable rewards.

Azerbaijan Airlines selected Comarch due to its extensive experience in the field. With over 15 years of expertise, the Krakow-based company has been delivering IT solutions for creating and managing comprehensive B2C and B2B loyalty programs, as well as automating marketing activities. Comarch also boasts a wealth of experience in collaborating with airlines, having established partnerships with carriers from Turkey, the United States, and Saudi Arabia.

The AZAL Miles programme is being developed using the Comarch Loyalty Management platform. The project encompasses the implementation of modules such as:

Business Administration
Contact Center
Data Hub

AZAL Miles caters to frequent travellers, enabling them to accumulate points for flights or services offered by airline partners. The number of points earned depends on the amount spent in euros, travel direction, and service class. Members of the AZAL Miles programme can earn points also through their co-branded card bank partners, which can then be exchanged for Azerbaijan Airlines flight tickets and other rewards. As of now, the AZAL Miles program has more than 200,000 members.

Azerbaijan Airlines

Established in 1992, Azerbaijan Airlines is the national carrier of Azerbaijan. With a fleet comprising 29 aircraft, and flights to over 50 destinations, the airline is experiencing dynamic growth with 50.8% increase in overall passenger transportation in Q1 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. Azerbaijan Airlines has earned a 4-star rating from Skytrax, reflecting its high-quality service in airport and onboard aspects.


Internationally recognized as a leading provider of technology solutions, Comarch specializes in delivering advanced loyalty platforms. Its flagship Comarch Loyalty Management platform facilitates the creation and management of customer engagement and rewards, streamlining the effective management of participant data and supporting omnichannel communication.


Lufthansa Group brings fans to the soccer European Championship

Europe is in soccer fever and Lufthansa is bringing soccer fans to Germany: From June 14 to July 14, the airlines of Lufthansa Group are recording around 200,000 additional bookings for flights to the venues of the European Football Championship. Numerous additional flights are being added, especially to and from Great Britain. Lufthansa is ready for the soccer event and is already getting fans in the mood for the European Championships on board.  "As a partner of the German men's national soccer team, we are eagerly awaiting the event. We are particularly looking forward to flying soccer fans from all over the world to Germany,” says Heiko Reitz, Chief Commercial Officer, Lufthansa Airlines.

On the road with the “Fanhansa”

For all those travelling with “Fanhansa”, the private summer fairytale can begin as soon as you take off: A total of six aircraft in the A320 proudly display the familiar lettering and emit a soccer atmosphere both inside and out - from special headrests to the food trays that say “Breakfast for Champions”. In addition, special EM chocolates will be served on all flights.

Live ticker on all European flights 

Another highlight is the live ticker on board domestic German and European flights: The match action is transmitted in real time via text. Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines passengers can follow the matches live in German and English on their own electronic devices free of charge throughout the European Championships via the FlyNet® portal. This is also possible on Lufthansa A350 flights with the new Allegris cabin interior and in the FlyNet® portal on Discover Airlines long-haul flights. 

Those who want more information about the European Championships can watch videos of the players from the DFB team take part in a quiz or get information about the ten German host cities on channels of the new Lufthansa Insights content system. This can be done on board in the FlyNet® portal and on the ground at Lufthansa.com.
As far as possible, the Lufthansa crews on all Lufthansa flights will provide the score of the respective soccer match.

Lufthansa fan scarf 

Lufthansa's specially created European fan scarf, whose design symbolizes the airline's route network, is already a popular souvenir. During Germany matches, the scarf is distributed free of charge at the airports of the host cities. In an oversized form, it welcomes passengers on the facade of Terminal 2 in Munich and sets the mood for this summer's major events: The European elections, the European Football Championships and the Olympic Games in Paris. The fan scarf will be on display until mid-August.


11 June, 2024

Hailstorm severely damages Austrian Airlines Airbus A320

An Austrian Airlines Airbus A320 aircraft was badly damaged after flying into a heavy and intense hailstorm during a flight on Sunday afternoon.

Austrian Airlines confirmed the incident occurred after the aircraft flew into a thunderstorm "which was not visible on the weather radar", and advised that none of the passengers onboard had been injured during the incident. 

The carrier said that a technical team has been "tasked with assessing the specific damage to the aircraft - As of now, the hail has damaged the two front cockpit windows, the aircraft nose (radome), and some coverings,"

Pictures show the nose cone of the aircraft badly damaged, with most of it disintegrated and the windscreens cracked and marked with hailstone impact marks.  At this stage, it is unclear on how many panes of glass were damaged in the incident.  

The A320 was operating flight 0S434 from Majorca to Vienna on Sunday when the crew declared an emergency after flying through a storm that, according to passengers, shook the aircraft with some force as it started its approach to Vienna.


WestJet statement on AMFA ratification results

 The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), the certified union representing WestJet Aircraft Maintenance Engineers and other Tech Ops employees under the bargaining unit, today announced that its membership did not ratify the tentative agreement, reached on May 5, 2024. The results of the ratification do not impact operations.

"The failed ratification of the tentative agreement by our Aircraft Maintenance Engineers and other Tech ops employees under the bargaining unit is deeply concerning after what was a lengthy and challenging negotiation process with the union," said Diederik Pen, President of WestJet Airlines and Group Chief Operating Officer. "The tentative agreement was fair, offered substantial improvements and would have made them the best paid Aircraft Maintenance Engineers in the country. It was also reflective of our commitment to addressing their priorities, while balancing what is financially sustainable for our business."

"We are committed to meeting with AMFA to determine next steps, although it is important to realize that the financial scope of the first tentative agreement must remain intact. Our goal remains to find a viable and reasonable path forward," concluded Pen.

easyJet releases 60 new routes for winter 2024

easyJet has announced its largest release of new routes with 60 new routes now available to book including 33 routes launching from 11 UK airports, with flights taking off for the first time from this winter.

The release includes a new winter service to Tromso in Norway for the very first time with departures from London Gatwick, Bristol and Manchester, as well as a year-round service from London Gatwick to Strasbourg, a brand new French destination for the airline.

New twice-weekly flights to Tromso will launch on 11 November from London Gatwick with departures on Mondays and Fridays, from Manchester on 19 November with departures on Tuesdays and Saturdays and from Bristol on 5 December on Thursdays and Sundays throughout winter, so customers can plan an arctic adventure in one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights.

Flights to London Gatwick to Strasbourg will operate three times a week on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays throughout the year, giving customers the choice of a week or weekend break to explore this historic French city.

The airline has launched three routes from London Luton to Athens and Basel which both start on 7 November and Djerba in Tunisia which will start on 11 November. The new route to Athens will operate three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, complementing the airline’s existing four UK routes to Athens and as a year-round route, customers can also benefit from this being a gateway to the beautiful Greek islands. The new route to Basel will operate four times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays and the new route to Djerba will operate year round on Mondays and Fridays.

United Airlines adding almost 200 flights for political conventions

U.S. mega carrier United confirmed today it has added nearly 200 new flights to make it even easier for convention attendees and political enthusiasts to travel to this summer's national political conventions. United will increase its Milwaukee flying by more than 75% for the Republican National Convention in July and will fly its largest schedule from its Chicago O'Hare hub since 2019 for the Democratic National Convention in August, including a 40% increase in flying between Chicago O'Hare and Washington Reagan.

In total, the airline will add 72 flights to and from Milwaukee in July and 118 flights to and from Chicago in August.

"These conventions are steeped in tradition and have now evolved to become a weeklong celebration of our political process," said Patrick Quayle, United's Senior Vice President of Global Network Planning and Alliances. "We're proud to give people even more options to visit two great cities, and participate in these historic events and make their voices heard."

Republican National Convention Schedule

United is flying a 75% larger Milwaukee schedule for the Republican National Convention, enabling nearly 5,000 more people to attend the historic event. In total, United will have more than 280 flights to and from Milwaukee the week of the convention including:

A new, nonstop flight between Milwaukee and Washington Reagan Airport.
72 additional flights from United's hubs in Chicago O'Hare, New York/Newark, Denver, Washington Dulles and Houston.
20 roundtrip flights on larger aircraft.

Democratic National Convention Schedule

United will fly its largest Chicago O'Hare schedule since 2019 for the Democratic National Convention, with more than 530 flights per day on peak days. The schedule includes:

38 additional flights between Chicago O'Hare and Washington Reagan. All flights between the airports on peak convention days will be on Boeing 737 MAX 8, with United's signature interiors.
More than 80 added flights between Chicago O'Hare and cities like Albany, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Portland, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose and Seattle.


Arajet takes delivery of its 10th Boeing 737 MAX

Arajet’s 10th Boeing 737 MAX arrived today in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic as the airline continues to grow its fuel-efficient fleet. This 737 MAX 8 delivery through a lessor supports Arajet’s growth strategy throughout the Americas as the airline plans to more than double its routes in the next few years.

“This tenth aircraft is unique, not only because it has a special Dominican ribbon painted on the fuselage, but because it will increase the number of connections we make with the continent. We are reaffirming our commitment to democratize the skies and be able to connect all our countries with the lowest possible prices,” said Victor Pacheco Méndez, CEO and founder of Arajet.

Since launching in 2022, Arajet has grown its all-737 MAX fleet to serve 23 destinations in 16 countries, including Canada, Mexico and Argentina. Arajet’s performance earned it recognition as the Startup Airline of the year at the World Aviation Summit in 2023.

JetBlue expands New York metro presence with service from Long Island MacArthur Airport

JetBlue has confirmed it will launch services for the first time from Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP)Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP). Starting this October, JetBlue will begin offering flights to Orlando International Airport (MCO), Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and Palm Beach International Airport (PBI). This new service aims to help better serve the many loyal JetBlue customers living on Long Island, providing them with more convenient travel options to popular destinations in Florida.

Strengthening New York's Hometown Airline

As New York’s Hometown Airline for more than 24 years and the only major U.S. airline based in New York City, JetBlue’s expansion onto Long Island underscores its commitment to enhancing connectivity for New Yorkers. This new service will bolster JetBlue's presence in the New York Metro area, complementing its existing operations at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).

"Long Island is an integral part of the New York Metro area, and we are excited to bring our award-winning service to customers in this community," said Dave Jehn, JetBlue’s vice president of network planning and airline partnerships. "The addition of Long Island MacArthur Airport to our network will offer more options and greater convenience for customers, and we are proud to provide new opportunities for more Long Islanders to experience our unique combination of low fares and great service."

WestJet and Virgin Atlantic confirm significant expansion of codeshare relationship

Beginning this winter, WestJet guests will gain access to an extensive list of unique international destinations via London's Heathrow Airport, through the expansion of WestJet's codeshare agreement with Virgin Atlantic. Through this expansion, WestJet will sell itineraries including flights operated by Virgin Atlantic from London Heathrow (LHR) to destinations within Virgin Atlantic's international network for winter 2024/2024. By summer 2025, WestJet will also provide domestic connectivity to Virgin Atlantic's newly announced route between Toronto-Pearson and London Heathrow.

Earlier this week in Las Vegas, alongside Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic and WestJet announced the expanded relationship. The agreement was signed last week at the IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Dubai, where WestJet's John Weatherill, Executive Vice-President and Chief Commercial Officer, was joined by Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, to expand the current codeshare agreement between both airlines. WestJet and Virgin Atlantic have had an established codeshare partnership since 2019.

"Through the expansion of our existing partnership with Virgin Atlantic, we are unlocking amazing opportunities for our guests to access an extensive list of new destinations and to experience Virgin Atlantic's innovative products and services beyond London," said Weatherill. "With daily flights from our global hub in Calgary to London, Canadians have never had better international access from across Western Canada to the United Kingdom and beyond."

Virgin Australia commences flights between Melbourne and Uluru

For the first time in history, Virgin Australia commences flights between Melbourne and the nation’s Spiritual Heartland, Uluru, with the airline’s maiden Brisbane-Uluru service set to take flight from tomorrow.

Launched in partnership with the Northern Territory Government and Voyages Indigenous Tourism (operators of Ayers Rock Resort, Uluru), the new services will add 62,000 seats to the Red Centre each year, while supporting the growth of the Indigenous tourism sector which contributes almost $6bn^ to the national visitor economy.

The increased access and tourism will also benefit Indigenous employment and training at Ayers Rock Resort, where over 30 per cent of the workforce identifies as Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander - making it one of the largest Indigenous employers in the Australian tourism sector.

Connecting the world to Uluru

Virgin Australia’s Uluru services will also create a new convenient gateway for travellers from Victoria and Queensland, while opening one of Australia’s most recognisable landmarks to more than 600 cities around the world through Virgin Australia’s codeshare partnerships with major airlines including Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, United Airlines and more. Codeshare flights to Uluru will also mean international tourists can travel on a single ticket, creating a seamless journey to the Red Centre when they visit Australia.

The flights will be operated using Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737 aircraft, with up to 182 seats on every flight, including three seating choices (Business Class, Economy X (extra leg room Economy) and Economy).

Virgin Australia CEO, Jayne Hrdlicka, said the launch of Virgin Australia Uluru services marks a very special milestone for the airline.

Air France launches a new cadet pilot recruitment campaign

Air France is now accepting applications for its cadet pilot programme. Designed to train and launch the careers of the next generation of pilots, candidates of all ages and levels of flying experience are encouraged to apply.

The candidates chosen after a rigorous selection process will benefit from a full 24-month training programme entirely paid for by Air France and provided by the airline’s partner schools. At the end of the training, they will start their careers as First Officers:

- on Air France’s Airbus A220 and A320 aircraft

- on Transavia’s Boeing B737 and Airbus A320neo aircraft.

Becoming an Air France pilot means joining an airline with over 90 years of history. Air France pilots carry out their mission with the highest level of flight safety, technical expertise and eco-responsible piloting, with a constant focus on customer satisfaction.

Air France is committed to fostering an environment of diversity, inclusion and gender equality. The company actively encourages women to take up technical professions. The previous cadet pilot graduates were made up of 10% women (compared with 9% of women pilots within the company as a whole).

The recruitment campaign is now open and runs until 15 July 2024. To find out more about the programme’s eligibility requirements and selection process, go to https://corporate.airfrance.com/en/airline-pilot

In partnership with the Fédération Française Aéronautique (FFA) and the Fédération Française de Vol en Planeur (FFVP), Air France is offering aspiring pilots the chance to find out more about the cadet programme recruitment and training process at webinars on Thursday 6 June at 6pm (FFA) and Thursday 13 June at 6pm (FFVP).


More flights to Bali with Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand has made a change to its schedule and turned a seasonal route into an all-year-round operation.  The carrier will now be flying a minimum of two flights per week to Bali all year long and in peak season ANZ will fly up to seven times a week. 

The move aims to provide year-round flight options following an increased demand for the popular holiday hotspot.  Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty said:  “Bali has become an increasingly popular destination for Kiwi holidaymakers. With something to offer every type of traveller – from culture to incredible food, surf, relaxation, and adventure – expanding our Bali services made sense.  

As the only airline offering a direct connection between Aotearoa and Bali, Kiwis heading off on a Bali break over the summer months no longer need to fly with a stopover. Holidaymakers can book a Bali Christmas or New Year holiday with direct flights to warm weather through the day and long balmy nights.

With more than 800 seats available to Bali each week between November and February there are more options than ever to explore the popular Indonesian islands and all they have to offer.”