Friday, 22 March 2019

Sleeper seats from Thomas Cook

Image Thomas Cook
The UK's Thomas Cook Airlines has taken a leaf out of Air New Zealand and introduced its own version of the sky couch, which it is calling its Sleeper Seats!

Thomas Cook Airlines’ long-haul routes such as New York and San Francisco will now get a Sleeper Seat which basically transforms a row of three seats into a bed of sorts, designed to allow passengers to start their holiday in a relaxed mode, or indeed come home refreshed!.

The Sleeper Seat is basically a comfy mattress that sits across a row of three seats tucked away at the back of the aircraft, cleverly crafted into a sweet space to stretch out and relax. Of course, just because its called a sleeper seat, you don't have to sleep to use it!  Thomas Cook says it will allow passengers to use the Sleeper Seat how they wish – to sleep, read, watch a film, listen to a podcast or simply sit back, rest and stretch out.

Henry Sunley, Commercial Director at Thomas Cook Airlines says, “We always look for ways to innovate for our customers and Sleeper Seat is a UK first that we are really proud of. It is a fantastic way to transform your flying experience and enjoy some extra comfort when flying in Economy.”

The airline announced the introduction of the Sleeper Seats a week ago and I'm told interest from passengers in the new offering from the airline has been pleasing to them.  It's not known at this stage if the sleeper seats will be introduced on all the Thomas Cook airlines. 

All Nippon Airways takes delivery of its first A380

Wednesday 20th March was a major date in the history of ANA - All Nippon Airways - as the carrier took delivery of its first Airbus A380 super jumbo aircraft. 

Yes, it has taken a while, yet this week  Japan's largest and 5-star airline for six consecutive years has taken delivery of its first A380 at a special ceremony in Toulouse, becoming the 15th operator of the world’s largest passenger aircraft. The delivery ceremony was attended by ANA Holdings President and CEO Shinya Katanozaka and hosted by Airbus CEO Tom Enders.

ANA has ordered three A380s and will operate the aircraft on the popular route between Tokyo Narita and Honolulu from May 24th. Each ANA A380 will feature a special livery depicting the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, also known as the Honu. The livery on the first aircraft is painted in blue, while the second will be green and the third orange.

Kazakhstan Border Service places order for Airbus C295

The Border Service of the Republic of Kazakhstan has signed a firm order for one C295 medium transport aircraft. 

Through this new agreement, which includes training, spares and ground support equipment, the overall C295 fleet operating in Kazakhstan will increase to nine aircraft.

The new C295, in transport configuration, will play a vital role in border control activities and homeland security operations due to its demonstrated reliability and cost efficiency in operation at low temperatures.

With this new order, the Border Service of Kazakhstan becomes the 31st operator of the C295 and brings the total number of orders up to 13 aircraft in the CIS.

Etihad Airways and Saudia to build on existing codeshare partnership

Photo Saudia
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi national flag carrier, Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA), announced positive growth in traffic since their codeshare partnership began in November 2018.

Jointly, Etihad and SAUDIA have flown over 16,000 guests across the partnership, solidifying the airlines’ commitment to growing inbound business and tourism in their respective markets. 

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group said: “The close and expanding partnership between Etihad and Saudia is giving us a unique opportunity to build on the deep ties that exist between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, As the national airline of the UAE, this is - a role we are extremely proud to play.

“With greater choice now available, more flexibility across both our schedules, and world-leading products and services, together, we now fly approximately 150 guests per day across each other’s networks. Our plan is to grow this number considerably through expansion of the codeshare agreement in the coming months, and to deliver more benefits to our customers.”

Photo Etihad
The codeshare agreement has seen ‘EY’ and ‘SV’ codes already placed on 14 routes with the addition of Vienna this week. In the coming months, Etihad will place its ‘EY’ code on, Tunis, Sharm El Sheikh and Alexandria. At the same time, Saudia will place its ‘SV’ code on Etihad flights to Tokyo, Nagoya, and Baku. Phase two for the ‘EY’ code will include Algiers, Dhaka and Erbil. And Phase two for the ‘SV’ code will include Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Moscow, Dusseldorf, Hong Kong, Kathmandu, Lagos, Minsk, Rabat, Astana, and more points in India.

Gulf Air and Etihad Airways sign a codeshare deal

From the start of this summer season, the national airline of the Kingdom of Bahrain - Gulf Air and the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways, have come together and signed a special codeshare partnership deal.  

This latest announcement follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two carriers at the Bahrain International Airshow in November last year and will further strengthen the strong ties between the two countries and carriers.

The deal will see Gulf Air will place its ‘GF’ code on Etihad flights from Abu Dhabi to and from Bahrain, Brisbane, Chicago O’Hare, Jakarta, Lagos, Los Angeles, Melbourne, New York JFK, Sydney and Washington.

It will also see Etihad place its ‘EY’ code on Gulf Air flights from Bahrain to and from Abu Dhabi, Baghdad, Casablanca, Dhaka, Faisalabad, Larnaca, Malaga, Multan, Najaf, Peshawar, Sailkot and Tbilisi.

Passengers travelling to the USA with Etihad will be able to enjoy the preclearance facility offered at Abu Dhabi International Airport. The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility at Terminal 3 in Abu Dhabi Airport is a purpose-built facility that allows US bound passengers to process all immigration, customs and agriculture inspections in Abu Dhabi before they depart. On arrival in the US, guests arrive as domestic passengers, speeding up the arrival process and making onward connections more seamless.

The WOW saga continues........................Indigo are out and Icelandair are back in..........talks continue

The Icelandic WOW air saga continues to twist and turn, just when you thought it was all sorted, another hurdle appears and clunk and clatter the plans derail and its all change!

The proposed investment of Indigo Partners in WOW air has been cancelled by the investment firm behind Frontier Airlines, Wizz Air and Volaris.  The halting of investment, therefore, means all negotiations have ended.  

Now WOW has again entered into discussions with the fellow Icelandic air provider, Icelandair, who held talks with the purple plane firm before Indigo popped up.  At the time Icelandair said debts were too big at WOW for them to invest, although it is fair to say Icelandair's own finances at the time were not at all super secure.

The future of WOW and Icelandair together is not clear, however, we may not have to wait for all that long,  according to WOW, both parties aim to conclude the negotiations by Monday, March 25th, 2019.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Ciao Milano........British Airways to launch a new route to Milan Bergamo from London Gatwick

From September this year passengers from London Gatwick will have another opportunity to say  "Ciao Italia" as British Airways introduce a new route to Milan Bergamo!

The new year-round service will operate six times a week from London Gatwick starting on 1st September, with fares starting at just £25 one-way.

Bergamo Airport is conveniently nestled between some of Italy’s most picturesque lakes and Milan.  The airport is 45km from the fashion capital known for its sophistication and creativity which is perfect for a weekend city break.  For those seeking a relaxed sunshine escape, Bergamo is the closest gateway to Lake Como and driving distance from Lake Garda, as well as the Franciacorta Wine Region. Bergamo also borders the Alps, providing access to a number of ski resorts during winter.

Adam Carson, British Airways’ Managing Director of Gatwick, said: “Milan Bergamo adds another exciting destination to our Gatwick network and is perfectly located for a city break, a summer visit to the lakes or even a skiing holiday in the Alps.

“From Gatwick, we fly to over 70 destinations as our network continues to expand we’re adding new routes designed to appeal to both leisure and business customers.”

The new route comes as British Airways is investing £6.5 billion to improve its customer experience over the next five years, including new aircraft, new cabins, new catering, new lounges, WiFi, and new routes.

(Images British Airways)

No more Paris flights for Mahan Air

There will be no more flights to Paris for Mahan Air from the 1st April the airline has confirmed this week. The Iranian airline had been operating services at least three times a week from its home base of Tehran with its Airbus aircraft.

However, due to sanctions, instigated at a government level, following those imposed by Germany earlier this year. The airline has now cancelled all future flights to and from Paris from 1`st April and all flights up until that date are showing full on the airlines booking site.

Swoop shows on Google Flights....

Photo Swoop
Canadian low-cost airline Swoop has signed a deal and agreed on a commission with Google to have its fares and flights displayed on Google Flights.

Swoop flights are now showcased on the search engine which the airline hopes will greatly add to the visibility of its flights and encourage more bookings, which have, according to some been disappointingly slow.  

"Teaming up with Google Flights is key to sharing our ultra-low-fares with more travellers," said Karen McIsaac, Senior Advisor of Communications at Swoop. "All of our flights are non-stop. This, in combination with our fares, is sure to surface Swoop flights as the most attractive option quite regularly in the markets we serve. We're especially excited about the fare-compare functionality, proving just how affordable we are."

Swoop is the budget airline from WestJet and operates a modern fleet of six Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft, these are equipped with in-seat power and Wi-Fi connectivity. The airline has plans to increase the fleet to ten aircraft by the end of the year.    

São Paulo, Brazil to become a new Virgin Atlantic destination in 2020.

Virgin Atlantic has announced that it will be launching flights between London Heathrow and São Paulo, Brazil in 2020.

The UK airline that is majority owned by US carrier Delta, will operate a daily flight between London Heathrow and São Paulo Guarulhos International Airport, on Boeing 787 aircraft, featuring boasting Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class, Premium and Economy Delight, Classic and Light offering.

The new service aims to capitalise on the fast-growing Brazilian economy, which benefits from year-round transatlantic demand. São Paulo is the commercial capital of Brazil and one of the top 20 global economic cities; it’s the largest city in the Americas (after New York) for multinational companies to have offices, and provides a platform for Virgin Atlantic to broaden its offering to existing corporate customers.

The fourth and final British Airways historic retro liveries takes to the skies.

Leaving Dublin                     Photo British Airways
Another slice of history landed at London Heathrow today as the fourth and final British Airways heritage livery came home.

The Boeing 747 resplendent in the iconic Negus livery arrived at Heathrow after being painted in Dublin and turned many heads and admiring glances. The Negus livery was painted on the airline's aircraft between 1974-1980 and had been voted one of the best airline liveries in history.

The arrival of the aircraft rounds off a nostalgic few weeks for the aviation community as recently enthusiasts, passengers and airport workers have been treated to a British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) liveried Boeing 747, a British European Airways (BEA) Airbus 319 and a British Airways Landor 747. Those three aircraft have collectively flown to more than 30 destinations across the UK, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and North America.

The Negus-liveried 747-400, registration G-CIVB, entered the IAC paint bay at Dublin Airport earlier this month where it was painted with the first version of the Negus livery which adorned the British Airways fleet from 1974-1980, directly after the merger of BOAC and BEA and the formation of the airline that customers know today. The aircraft's first commercial flight in the new old livery is a flight to Cape Town this efvening. 
Photo Stuart Bailey

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: “Reintroducing four heritage designs in to our fleet has been an incredibly nostalgic time for us and our customers, we’re impressed at how popular they’ve been.  In our centenary year it’s important that we celebrate our past, and we also have big plans to look to the future. I’m excited about what the rest of this year has in store.”

When it initially flew, the Negus livery was the first to carry “British Airways” since 1939, when the original British Airways Limited merged with Imperial Airways to form BOAC. Interestingly, the Union Flag is not present on the side of the aircraft as, like the final BEA aircraft livery, the flag began to be fully celebrated on the aircraft’s tailfin instead.

Which is your favourite BA heritage livery?

More aircraft grounded at the Jet Airways because of lack of payment

Photo Jet Airways
The crisis surrounding Indian airline Jet Airways continues to deepen as the financially haemorrhaging air carrier grounds another six aircraft, cuts schedules and seems to be spiralling out of control.

The airline has debts that go way beyond $1billion, that's around £750 million and has been forced to cut, halt or delay payments to suppliers, staff and the leasing firms that supply most of its aircraft. It is understood that more than 50 of its fleet have been grounded because of non-payment of leases and more are likely to follow if April payments are not made in just over a weeks time.

Arsenal travel on a special livery A380 from Emirates to Dubai

Arsenal Football Club boarded a newly branded Emirates A380 jet on Thursday, 21st March to head to Dubai.  The double-decked jet features a special livery which featuring a montage of Arsenal first team players down the side of the aircraft. 

The club is making their way to Dubai for a friendly match with Al Nasr Sports Club as well as the official inauguration of Al Maktoum Stadium, taking place on 26 March. During their stay in Dubai, the Arsenal players will also take part in warm weather training sessions, to prepare for final weeks of their football season. This is the first time in Emirates’ history that the whole Arsenal squad visits their Dubai home, and the airline will be supporting the visit by connecting fans in the UAE with one of the greatest football clubs in the world.

BRS Aerospace and Transcend Air partner to make Vy 400 safest VTOL aircraft in history

BRS Aerospace, the leading whole aircraft rescue parachute system manufacturer in the world, and Transcend Air Corporation, developer of the Vy 400, a six-seat, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, today announced a partnership to make the Vy the safest VTOL aircraft in history.

“BRS Aerospace is committed to continually advancing the cause of aircraft occupant safety,” said BRS Fernando de Caralt, CEO of BRS Aerospace. “We look forward to working with Transcend to create one of the first aircraft to integrate our proven whole-airframe parachute system with today’s technological advancements in automotive industry occupant protection.”

“BRS was one of the very first companies we approached when doing the initial conceptual design of the Vy 400,” said Gregory Bruell, Chief Executive Officer of Transcend Air. “We are committed to making the Vy family as safe as possible, so this collaboration means not just installing a BRS parachute but driving the whole design from an occupant protection standpoint.”


COMO Hotels opens the COMO Castello Del Nero, Tuscany

On March 21st 2019, COMO Hotels and Resorts opened the COMO Castello Del Nero, Tuscany - a magical, 740-acre historic estate in the world-famous Chianti wine region of Italy. This twelfth-century castle, with 50 rooms and suites, has been refurbished by world-renowned designer, Paola Navone. Paola's modern Italian style has given the hotel a contemporary breath of fresh air in the heart of the estate's ancient olive groves and vineyards.

The hotel is partly hidden among the rolling hills of Tuscany, it is within an easy driving distance of the cities of Florence and Siena. The hotel also offers a complimentary shuttle service to and from Florence or Siena and is around 30-minutes from Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola - Florence’s International airport, which makes it easily accessible from anywhere in Europe.

Temperatures in the area range from a minimum of 3°C in December and January to a maximum of 30°C in July and August, the warmest summer months.

Some of the main features and services on offer include a 25-metre outdoor heated swimming pool, a gym, 2 tennis courts, free yoga sessions on some days, car and Vespa rentals, laundry dry cleaning and pressing services, complimentary wi-fi, complimentary shoe-shine,  and even a heliport!

Delta, GOL and Santander Brasil employees take part in 16th annual Delta Global Build in Brazil

Photo Delta
Delta employees have helped families across the globe for more than twenty years through its partnership with Habitat for Humanity, a global nonprofit organization that helps families build or improve a place they can call home. This week, Delta employees, along with employees from partner airline GOL and Santander Brasil, are in Recife, Brazil, continuing this commitment to service to communities worldwide.

The 2019 Delta Global Build takes place March 18-22, marking Delta's 16th Global Build with Habitat for Humanity and the first Build in Brazil. Volunteers include 54 Delta employees and two retirees, representing 24 stations and four countries, and 12 employees from GOL, the leading airline in Brazil. Four employees from Santander Brasil also join the team of volunteers.

Mesa Air Group names new vice president of United Express operations

The Mesa Air Group has appointed  Mark Ade as its new Vice President of United Express Operations, the company announced this week.

Ade brings 30 years of industry experience and over 15 years of experience in airline operations. He will oversee the company's United Express operations and report directly to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Brad Rich.  

Most recently, Ade was the Regional Manager of United Express Performance for United Airlines, where he worked with United Express partner carriers to improve reliability and performance.
Photo Mesa Air Group

Delta taps Forbes 30 Under 30 visionaries for future flight experience

Forbes Under 30
Delta is bringing innovation to customer experience, leveraging out-of-the-box thinking.
Delta is tapping into the creative Forbes Under 30 community in a first-of-its-kind partnership to develop new and thoughtful flight experiences. The Delta Under 30 Advisory Board includes Forbes 30 Under 30 List honorees representing a diverse set of young innovators, entrepreneurs and risk-takers who are lending their propensity for disrupting a variety of industries to the Delta experience.

JetBlue introduces the final phase of its Airbus A320 cabin restyling project

The final phase of JetBlue's Airbus A320 interior cabin restyling ushers in a new era of comfort and connectivity 

The US low-cost airline JetBlue announced on Wednesday 20th March,  that its newest cabin experience has taken to the skies on regular services!

The airline says its cabin restyling brings to the skies the widest seats available for the A320 aircraft, custom-designed seatback inflight entertainment (IFE) with 100+ channels of DIRECTV and hundreds of free movies and shows, ability to pair your mobile device to the screen, easy-to-reach power sources at every seat, and expanded coverage of free Wi-Fi connectivity almost everywhere JetBlue flies. 

JetBlue’s Airbus A320 aircraft, which make up the majority of the airline’s fleet, are being updated for the first time since the airline disrupted the industry with onboard live television and all-leather seats in 2000.

The cleanest airline in the world is..............

SkyTrax World Airline Awards has lifted the veil on the top 30 airlines in the world and there are some that may surprise you on the higher regions of the chart.  Whilst you almost certainly wouldn't expect to find a budget low-cost-carrier to big high in the cleanliness stakes, you might expect a legacy airline such as British Airways to be up in the top 20 if not the top 10,  but BA are nowhere to be seen!

To get the top airlines, passengers rated the standards and quality of cleanliness in the aircraft cabin for airlines. Cleanliness and presentation of seat areas, tables, carpets, cabin panels and washrooms all contribute towards the final results.

Leading the field is ANA All Nippon Airways, followed by EVA Air, Asiana Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Japan Airlines.
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