Cobalt Air Suspends Operations

Cobalt Air has suspended operations with immediate effect, meaning all its flights between London, Athens and Larnaca are cancelled.

London Air Travel

Cobalt Air (Image Credit Cobalt Air)
Cobalt Air (Image Credit Cobalt Air)

Cobalt Air has suspended operations with immediate effect.

The airline flew from London Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted to Larnaca. It also flew from London Gatwick to Athens.

Local media in Cyprus had reported on Wednesday evening that the airline was facing financial difficulties. The airline has now confirmed that all flights are now suspended as of 21:50 BST / 23:50 EEST Wednesday 17 October 2018.

Cobalt regrets to announce that it will be cancelling all Flights as of 23:50pm on October 17, 2018 due to indefinite suspension of Cobalt’s operations. As a result, future flights or services provided by Cobalt will be cancelled and will no longer operate.

Passengers who have un-flown tickets are instructed not to go to Larnaca Airport or any departure airport tomorrow, 18 October 2018 as no Cobalt flights will operate and no Cobalt staff will be present.

For refunds, please contact your credit card provider or Travel Agent.

We sincerely apologise once again and would like to thank our very loyal customers for their support over the last two years of Cobalt operations.

It began scheduled passenger flights in 2016 and operated a fleet of 2 Airbus A319 and 4 Airbus A320 aircraft in a two class configuration to more than 20 destinations.

Advice for affected passengers

As Cobalt Air is not regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority, it will not be arranging repatriation flights for passengers who need to return to the UK.

However, as it did with the collapse of Primera Air, the CAA may provide general guidance shortly on its website.

If you booked a flight with Cobalt Air through a travel agent, the best advice is to contact them in the first instance.

If you have booked a flight directly with Cobalt Air, then you will need to contact your credit card company to obtain a refund.

If you are stranded and need to book a new flight home, you should contact your travel insurer in the first instance.

With the collapse of Primera Air earlier this month, this is a salutatory reminder of the importance of both having travel insurance and booking flights on a credit card to mitigate the impact of airline failure.
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The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 17 October 2018

The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 BST, providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

London Air Travel

Delta, American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic & British Airways aircraft at London Heathrow
Delta, American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic & British Airways aircraft at London Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 17 October 2018, our weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

Eyebrows were raised last week when the Competitions & Markets Authority announced an investigation into the transatlantic joint-venture between American Airlines, BA, Iberia and Finnair.

Given the history of the airline industry and cartel activity, you would be forgiven for thinking something was untoward.

However, the reality was more mundane than that.

In 2010, the airlines secured regulatory approval from the European Commission and the US Department of Transportation to operate an immunised joint-venture. This covers all flights between Europe and North America and allows the airlines to co-ordinate routes, schedules and fares.

This was a long held ambition of BA and American. They had twice previously attempted to secure regulatory approval. In 1999, a three year long effort proved futile. In 2002, BA and American balked at US regulator demands to hand-over 224 weekly take off and landing slots to new competitors.

In spite of vociferous protests from Virgin Atlantic, which emblazoned its aircraft with “No Way BA/AA”, BA and American finally secured regulatory approval with relatively modest concessions.

The approval was granted for a period of ten years. As the UK should, short of some sort of political earthquake over the next few months, leave the European Union on 29 March 2019 and the existing approvals are due to expire 2020, the Competition and Markets Authority should have some jurisdiction given American and BA’s presence at Heathrow.

When reviewing the competitive impact of joint-ventures, regulators have historically focused on city pairs, rather than the overall number of slots held at an airport. With this in mind, American and BA were required to make available, subject to certain conditions, slots to new entrants on overlapping routes. From London, these were Boston, Chicago, Miami and New York JFK.

This process of overseen by an independent trustee Mazars which recently advertised three slot pairs for London – New York. It is not known if anyone has taken these up.
Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 17 October 2018”

British Airways launches new routes to Bastia and Preveza

British Airways is to launch two new summer seasonal routes from London Heathrow to Bastia, Corsica and Preveza, Greece from late May to September 2019.

London Air Travel

Corsica (Image Credit: British Airways)
Corsica (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways is to launch two new summer seasonal routes from London Heathrow to Bastia, Corsica and Preveza, Greece from late May 2019.

BA will fly to Bastia (Bastia – Poretta Airport) once a week on Saturdays from 25 May to 28 September 2019.

It will also fly to Preveza (Aktion National Airport) on Wednesdays and Sundays from Sunday 26 May to Sunday 28 September 2019.

Both routes will operate from London Heathrow Terminal 5.

BA also operates a summer seasonal route to Figari. BA also serves a number of destinations in Greece from London Heathrow as well as Skiathos from London City.
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Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 16 October 2018

Our weekly bulletin on the latest developments in media and technology around the world, as published every Tuesday morning at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel

The Guardian Weekly
The Guardian Weekly (Image Credit: The Guardian)

Hello and welcome to our weekly travel media and technology bulletin featuring the latest developments on media and technology around the world, published every Tuesday at 06:00 BST.

The Guardian Weekly relaunches

Once upon a time, travelling abroad meant being in blissful ignorance as to what was happening back at home.

This was often a blessing and a curse.

Sometimes a political brouhaha could have come and gone. On one memorable occasion, on boarding a flight from New York to London Heathrow in September 2000, there was the shock of being handed a letter advising that protests at fuel refineries had resulted in empty supermarket shelves at home.

There was of course the option of buying a 2-3 day old newspaper printed and flown out from the UK. Many British papers such as the Telegraph would produce weekly editions for international readers. As has The Guardian which, for more than 99 years, has distributed “The Guardian Weekly” in some 170 countries.

The internet may have rendered the concept superfluous, however The Guardian has now relaunched its weekly edition as a news magazine and the first edition was published last week. It will also be available more widely in the UK with a new cover price of £4.40. There are also special editions for the US and Australia, where The Guardian has dedicated bureaux.

Whilst it has been a very tough market for print, a lot of weekly/bi-weekly news magazines have continued to thrive thanks to strong cover images and editorial and, of course, the current political climate.

The Guardian Weekly is published every Thursday.
Continue reading “Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 16 October 2018”

Monday Briefing – 15 October 2018

Welcome to our weekly Monday Briefing on the main developments in air travel in London and around the world, as published every Monday morning at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel

Dreamflight, London Heathrow, Sunday 14 October 2018
Dreamflight, London Heathrow, Sunday 14 October 2018 (Image Credit: British Airways)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 15 October 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week.

New Gatwick Airport Masterplan

Gatwick is to unveil a new airport masterplan this coming Thursday.

Part of it has been selectively leaked to the press in advance – possibly to take the sting out of one of the more controversial aspects.

Gatwick proposes to bring its standby runway into permanent use for short-haul flights when a legal agreement preventing Gatwick from operating a second runway expires next year.

Gatwick Airport Runways
Gatwick Airport Runways (Image Credit: Gatwick Airport)

Gatwick has long campaigned for a second runway in the hope of attracting more long-haul airlines, particularly to Asia. It has had mixed success in this regard. Cathay Pacific has launched Hong Kong. Air China has launched Chengdu. China Eastern will launch Shanghai in December of this year. Gardua Indonesia however moved its service to Jakarta from Gatwick to Heathrow. Heathrow has also managed to secure new routes to Changsha operated by Hainan Airlines and X’ian operated by Tianjin Airlines.

The airport currently has a rolling five year investment plan, details of which are available from here.

New Aer Lingus CEO

Last week International Airlines Group announced that Stephen Kavanagh will step down as CEO of Aer Lingus on 1 January 2019.

Stephen will be succeeded by Sean Doyle, currently Director of Network, Fleet and Alliances at BA.

Aer Lingus has expanded its long-haul network significantly over the past three years under IAG. However, progress in other areas has been slow. It has still not yet joined the transatlantic joint-venture with American Airlines and BA. Nor is there any immediate prospect of it rejoining the Oneworld alliance. There has also been no growth in short-haul, which will not happen until Aer Lingus can satisfy IAG it can make a sufficient rate of return.

This is not the first time IAG has moved executives between airlines. Alex Cruz was of course CEO of Vueling before his appointment at BA. Carolina Martinoli, BA’s Director of Brand and Customer Experience, was formerly Marketing Director at Iberia.

Alex has certainly not had an easy time in his first two years at BA, However, Carolina Martinoli has certainly had much more success than her two predecessors Frank van Der Post and Troy Warfield, who both joined from outside the airline industry, at instituting change. Sean should bring a lot of experience from BA and an understanding of the inner workings of IAG.

Dreamflight

For more than 30 years, the charity Dreamflight has raised funds to charter a BA aircraft to fly hundreds of disabled and seriously ill children to Orlando for a ten day holiday of a lifetime.

Yesterday, fresh from a four week refurbishment, a BA Boeing 747 departed a very wet Heathrow for Orlando under flight BAW1DF.

The children enjoy entertainment with special guests – this year Una Healy – in a BA hangar at Heathrow before boarding their flight. They are accompanied on their trip by representatives from Dreamflight, BA staff and a fully trained medical team.

There’s more on the charity’s work at Dreamflight.

In case you missed it:

No1 Lounges takes over Etihad’s London Heathrow lounge. (London Air Travel)

WestJet to fly its Boeing 787-9 from London Gatwick to Calgary in 2019. (London Air Travel)

The first of BA’s refurbished 52 Club World Boeing 747s enters service. (London Air Travel)

Our survey of the progress of roll-out of WiFi on BA’s fleet. (London Air Travel)

Late Post Publication Updates:

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

Our Monday Briefing is published every Monday at 06:00 BST. If you have any comments, suggestions or tips then please drop us a line at mail [@] londonairtravel.com

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British Airways WiFi Installation Progress

Here’s our guide to the progress of the installation of WiFi across British Airways’ exising short and long-haul fleet, and future aircraft deliveries.

London Air Travel

British Airways WiFi
British Airways WiFi (Image Credit: British Airways)

BA’s parent company International Airlines Group first announced plans to roll out in-flight WiFi across its member airlines some four years ago.

At the time, it was planned that 90% of all long-haul aircraft would have WiFi by early 2019.

That is now looking a little ambitious. BA has been progressively adding WiFi to its long-haul fleet. However, the availability varies widely by aircraft type.

At present, there is no way of knowing for certain if your flight with WiFi. However, BA has detailed on its website those aircraft, by registration number, fitted with WiFi.

Here, we’ve indicated how many aircraft by fleet type have WiFi to give an indication of the likely chances of your flight being fitted with WiFi. Unsurprisingly, BA is focusing on refitting long-haul aircraft with First Class and high numbers of Club World seats first.

In short, you have a good chance of flying on a Boeing 747 with 86 Club World seats or a Boeing 777-200.

There’s a much smaller chance with the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300. There’s absolutely no chance on a Boeing 787-8 or 787-9 aircraft.

It is assumed that once a significant number of aircraft have WiFi, BA will be able to advise accordingly in online timetables and the Manage My Booking tool on the website and smartphone app.
Continue reading “British Airways WiFi Installation Progress”

Sunday Times: Gatwick plans “stealth” second runway

The Sunday Times is reporting that Gatwick airport is to unveil plans to bring its standby runway into regular use to increase capacity at the airport.

London Air Travel

London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)
London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)

The Sunday Times, today 14 October 2018, is reporting that Gatwick airport is to unveil plans for an effective second runway.

The paper, presumably on the basis of off-the-record briefing by Gatwick PRs, reports that Gatwick plans to unveil a new airport masterplan this coming Thursday.

Under these plans, its shorter standby runway would be brought into regular use for short-haul aircraft. The legal basis for this is the imminent expiry of an agreement made in 1979 not to build a second runway at Gatwick.

This would require approval from the Civil Aviation Authority. The Sunday Times has been briefed that this move could increase the airport’s capacity by 20% – 30%, adding up to 231 extra flights a day. Such a move would clearly require additional terminal infrastructure. Given the close proximity of the two runways, there will be inevitable safety concerns.

Gatwick airport campaigned vociferously for it to be chosen to have a new runway over Heathrow. However, the Government first indicated Heathrow was its preferred airport for a new runway nearly two years ago. The expansion of Heathrow is of course mired in legal challenges. This is something that Gatwick will not be immune to.

That is not the only Gatwick story in today’s papers. The Mail On Sunday, citing “City sources”, is reporting that Global Infrastructure Partners is close to selling its remaining 42% stake in the airport.

British Airways refurbishes more Boeing 747 aircraft

British Airways has begun to refurbish some of its 52 Club World seat Boeing 747 aircraft with new cabin interiors and in-flight entertainment systems.

London Air Travel

British Airways Club World Boeing 747 (Picture by: Stuart Bailey / British Airways)

The Boeing 747 is going to be a fixture at BA until February 2024.

At present, there are 36 aircraft in service, all at London Heathrow. However, there are very sharp differences between aircraft in the fleet.

Refurbished 86 Club World Seat Aircraft

18 of these aircraft operate with 86 Club World seats.

These regularly operate on routes such as Austin, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas Fort Worth, Lagos, Los Angeles, New York JFK, Philadelphia and San Francisco. These were refurbished in 2015 with new carpets, seat covers, and cabin lighting.

British Airways Boeing 747 Club World IFE Screen (Image Credit: British Airways)

The in-flight entertainment system was replaced with new screens, a more responsive interface and more content, as well as USB power ports.

It is likely that these will be amongst the last be retired.

Non-Refurbished 52 Club World Seat Aircraft

Another 18 aircraft operate with 52 Club World seats, with the World Traveller Plus cabin positioned between First and Club World.

They regularly operate on routes such as Accra, Cape Town, Denver, Las Vegas, Miami, Nairobi, Phoenix and Vancouver. Many of these aircraft are expected to be retired over the next couple of years.

The state of these aircraft could not be more different. The World Traveller and World Traveller Plus cabins are nearly 20 years old. The last significant upgrade was the installation of an on demand in-flight entertainment system in 2006.

2018 Boeing 747 Refurbishment Programme

The refurbishment plans for the 52 Club World seat Boeing 747 aircraft are more ambiguous.

Some won’t be refurbished due to imminent retirement.

The last published fleet plan by BA’s parent company shows that 2 aircraft will be retired in 2018 and a further 3 in 2019.

Some aircraft have already had a minor “refresh” with a deep clean and new seat covers in World Traveller and World Traveller Plus, but no new in-flight entertainment system.

BA has however been planning to carry out a more substantial refurbishment to some aircraft.

The first aircraft to receive a full refurbishment, G-CIVO, was sent to BA’s maintenance base on Cardiff on 7 September 2018.

It returned to Heathrow on Thursday 11 October 2018 and is expected to enter service imminently.

It has been refurbished in line with the 86 Club World seat Boeing 747s with a new in-flight entertainment system with larger screens, new seat covers, carpets and cabin lighting. BA has not yet released press images of the refurbished aircraft. However, these are expected early next week.

It is not possible to predict exactly on which routes refurbished aircraft will operate. However, as non-refurbished aircraft are retired and those that remain are refurbished, the chances are greater.

An update on BA’s fleet plans is expected at the Capital Markets Day of its parent company International Airlines Group in November.

No1 Lounges opens “The House” at Heathrow Terminal 4

No1 Lounges has taken over Etihad’s lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 4, which has been rebranded “The House”. Access can now be purchased online.

London Air Travel

The House at Heathrow, Terminal 4
The House at Heathrow, Terminal 4

The No1 Lounges group has taken over the operation of Etihad’s lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 4.

The lounge has now been rebranded “The House”. Or, as Etihad refers to it, “The House, home of Etihad Airways and other leading airlines”.

The House is a new brand for the group, alongside No1 Lounges, Club Rooms, and My Lounge.

Etihad business, First Class and The Residence passengers continue to have access to the lounge. As do Gold and Platinum members of the Etihad Guest frequent flyer programme. Etihad economy passengers can also purchase access to the lounge.

No1 Lounges is now selling access to passengers of all airlines departing from Terminal 4 on its website for £45 per person.

This move has been expected for some time. Etihad has had well documented financial problems of late. It had already been selling lounge access to economy passengers. A radical reshaping of its route network and fleet has been expected. However, the effective handing over of its lounge at London Heathrow is a significant move. It shows that nothing is off the table.

Whilst Etihad is at pains to emphasise that facilities will be reconfigured in the coming year, it is a simple fact that the lounge will be busier.

Having experienced third party lounges operated for both airlines and on a pay-per-access basis, it can be problematic. When the schedules of participating airlines and periods of peak passenger demand collide, they can become extremely crowded. Even simple things, like not having to queue to get in, cannot be taken for granted.

The House is open from 06:00 to 21:00 daily. Passengers must be over the age of 12 to access the lounge.

Lounge facilities include a tendered bar, a dining room with table service and a la carte morning breakfast and all day menus, and shower suites.

The lounge is located in the departures area, near the SkyTeam lounge, opposite Gate 10.

WestJet to fly Boeing 787 Dreamliner from London Gatwick

WestJet will fly its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from London Gatwick to Calgary from Monday 29 April 2019, featuring WestJet’s first international business class.

London Air Travel

Business Class, WestJet Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Business Class, WestJet Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (Image Credit: WestJet0

For the past two years, WestJet has been flying from London Gatwick to a number of Canadian cities.

It is fair to say it did not get off to the best of starts, with significant reliability issues with its fleet of Boeing 767 aircraft.

However, from next year, WestJet will radically improve its competitive position in London. At least on one route.

WestJet confirmed today, Wednesday 10 October 2018, that from Monday 29 April 2019 its daily flight from London Gatwick to Calgary will be operated with its new fleet of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.

By any measure, this will be a substantial upgrade. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will feature WestJet’s first international business class cabin. The cabin features fully flat seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, all with direct aisle access. WestJet also promises on-demand dining and a turndown service in business class. This will make WestJet extremely competitive against Air Canada and BA.

The aircraft also has a premium economy cabin with 2-3-2 seating and a self-service bar area and an economy cabin with 3-3-3 seating and in-flight entertainment. Full details of WestJet’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner are available on a dedicated microsite.

WestJet will also fly the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from Paris and Dublin to Calgary later in 2019.
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