The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 13 February 2019

A weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

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TWA Hotel Rendering
TWA Hotel Rendering (Image Credit: TWA Hotel)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 13 February 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.

TWA Hotel Opens For Booking

The much anticipated TWA Hotel at New York JFK will start accepting reservations from 07:00 GMT on Thursday 14 February.

Hotels at New York JFK are generally dismal and involve long waits for shuttle buses and an inevitable tour of all terminals on your return to the airport.

Given its convenience and proximity to the airport and the enduring fascination with America’s legacy airline brands like Braniff, Pan Am and TWA, it is likely to command high rates. The hotel’s pre-launch publicity makes much of the fact that it will evoke TWA’s heritage and the era of the jet-set, but with 500+ rooms it will have to avoid feeling like a bed factory.

European Commission Approves Air France-KLM stake in Virgin Atlantic

The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it has approved Air France-KLM’s acquisition of a 31% stake in Virgin Atlantic.

The announcement refers to plans to operate a combined transatlantic joint-venture, but this seems to be subject to a separate approval process. The US Department of Transportation also has to give regulatory approval to the new joint-venture, and JetBlue is demanding that further market investigative work is done first.

Virgin’s American Ambitions

On the subject of Virgin, the Financial Times has an extensive report on Virgin Group’s ambitions for the US.

When the major shareholders in Virgin America decided to sell the airline to Alaska Airlines, Sir Richard Branson could not hide his intense frustration. Apart from the loss of royalties for the use of the Virgin name, it did diminish its brand presence in the US. The Virgin brand has only really “worked” in major English speaking territories.

Virgin is rebuilding its presence with a second Virgin Hotel after Chicago opening in San Francisco this weekend. The Brightline is also due to become Virgin Trains USA this year. Will we see another Virgin America? Probably not.

American Airlines To Operate Heathrow-Phoenix Year Round

When American Airlines announced it was to operate its own flight from London Heathrow to Phoenix from Sunday 31 March 2019, it was initially to be a summer seasonal route. However, it will now operate year-round.

Also of note this week:

California Governor Gavin Newsom has given a “State of the State” speech in which he wants to roll back plans to build a high speed rail link between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Governor proposes an alternative link between two Central Valley cities Bakerfield and Merced. (SFGate)

There is a deadline of midnight EST on Friday 15 February for Congress and President Trump to pass a new spending bill to avert another US Government Shutdown. The last shutdown caused significant disruption to security screening at airports and to damage to parks such as Joshua Tree National Park due to lack of staff. A bipartisan deal has been agreed by Congress but President Trump has to yet to approve it. (Washington Post)

Late Post Publication Updates

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