The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 23 January 2019

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

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Delta Air Lines - New York
Delta Air Lines

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 23 January 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.

Groundhog Day

It is Groundhog Day on both sides of the Atlantic, with no end to the political impasse in sight.

The US Government Shutdown is now in its 32nd day. The Transport Security Administration continues to provide daily updates on airport security screening times.

Although this is very much seen as a domestic issue, there are impacts beyond the US. There is not a chance of imminent approval from the US Department Of Transportation for Aer Lingus joining the American / BA transatlantic joint-venture, nor for Air France-KLM, Delta and Virgin combining their transatlantic joint-ventures.

US East Coast & Chicago Weather

Severe weather conditions continues across the North East of the United States.

Travel waivers have been in place for the North East for some days. American Airlines and BA have last night extended these further to today. American, BA and United have also added waivers to Chicago due to expected severe weather.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 23 January 2019”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 16 January 2019

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

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United Polaris Lounge Los Angeles
United Polaris Lounge Los Angeles (Image Credit: United Airlines)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 16 January 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America, and our first edition for 2019.

US Government Shutdown

The UK and US Governments are currently rivalling each other for the greatest state of paralysis.

The US Government shutdown means that some 800,000 US Government employees are either not working or working without being paid. Delta has estimated it will cost it $25million in revenue in the first quarter of this year due to fewer Government employees travelling.

The shutdown has also delayed the entry of new aircraft into service by US airlines, including the Airbus A220 by Delta, as there has been no sign-off from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Transport Security Administration employees are required to continue working during the shutdown.

The TSA is providing updates on airport security screening.

Some airports, most notably Atlanta, are experiencing significantly longer wait times.

United Opens Los Angeles Polaris Lounge

United has opened its latest Polaris lounge for international business travellers in Los Angeles.

This follows the template set by Polaris lounges in Houston, Newark and San Francisco with significantly improved seating, pre-flight dining and showers. A new Polaris lounge is due to open at some point at London Heathrow. (United)

The Talk Of The Town: The L-Train

Readers in the UK will be more than familiar with the concept of blanket shutdowns on the Tube and rail network for repairs and upgrades.

They are much less common in the US. The L-Train on the New York Subway which runs from 14th Street on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan under the East River to Brooklyn was due to close for 15 months from 27 April this year for repairs to the tunnel.

This has been pulled at the last minute due to a new plan by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, long a target for ire from weary Subway users, for a less disruptive approach with weekend closures. The official line from the MTA is that the shutdown has been suspended. However, according to the New York Times, this had been previously rejected by the MTA.

The Subway, owned by New York City, with the MTA controlled by New York State, has long been caught in City/State politics. Expect this to run and run.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 16 January 2019”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 12 December 2018

The Atlantic Update is a weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

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Flying over the North Atlantic - August 2018
The North Atlantic – August 2018 (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 12 December 2018.

This is our last update for 2018. The Atlantic Update will return on Wednesday 16 January 2019.

A look to 2019

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2019.

At Heathrow, BA will launch new direct routes to Pittsburgh and Charleston. We should also at least some indication of BA’s plans for long-haul growth at Gatwick, where transatlantic routes are likely to feature.

American and BA may also announce a significant reshaping of their joint-venture, both in terms of allocation of routes and Heathrow operations.

Delta will combine its transatlantic joint-ventures with Air France-KLM and Virgin into one.

JetBlue may also announce plans for transatlantic flights to London.

In New York, BA will complete its refurbishment of New York JFK Terminal 7. BA’s San Francisco lounge will also receive a long awaited refurbishment.

We’re also looking forward to the planned opening of the TWA Hotel at New York JFK. This will radically upgrade JFK’s hotel options, both in terms of convenience and quality. This week it was announced that chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten will run a lounge and restaurant, to be known as the Lisbon Lounge and Paris Cafe, in the hotel. (New York Times)

Another New York hotel opening we’re looking forward to is the Equinox Hotel in Hudson Yards. Equinox operates a number of very well-appointed gyms in the city, so this should impress.

Finally, in Los Angeles, we’re looking forward to the opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 12 December 2018”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 5 December 2018

The Atlantic Update is a weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

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American Airlines Aircraft at London Heathrow
American Airlines Aircraft at London Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 5 December 2018.

Could American Airlines move to Heathrow Terminal 5?

Interest was piqued this week following comments by Rhett Workman of American Airlines on its “Tell Me Why” employee podcast that it may one day move into Terminal 5 at Heathrow.

American Airlines and BA are at a disadvantage compared to Delta and Virgin Atlantic in that they do not share terminals at Heathrow, nor many other US airports such as New York JFK.

This partially defeats the object of operating a “clock-face” timetable on routes such as Chicago O’Hare and New York JFK.

It also means passengers connecting from American Airlines, some 50% of them, on to most of BA’s short-haul network have to change terminals at Heathrow.

Given the size of American’s operation at Heathrow it is hard to see this happening without an expansion of Terminal 5.

There are also many issues beyond capacity. Terminal 5 was originally intended for the exclusive use of BA and all of its systems and processes were designed around the airline. Consider that Iberia has operated from Terminal 5 for several years, but it was only this year their flights actually operated under Iberia flight numbers.

If this ever comes to fruition, it is certainly a long-term goal. In the interim, BA did issue a rather vague press release earlier this year referring to “big plans” for Terminal 3 in conjunction with American Airlines. The podcast also means increased co-operation behind the scenes such as staff secondments between the two airlines.

There is also the possibility that some transatlantic routes shared between American and BA may ultimately be operated by only one airline. There is some credence to this as in the US market American seems to be focusing more on its traditional strongholds such as Dallas Fort-Worth and it may leave other Heathrow transatlantic routes to BA.

United Begins Selling Premium Economy

United Premium Plus Cabin
United Premium Plus Cabin (Image Credit: United)

United has started selling tickets for travel in its premium economy cabin “United Premium Plus”.

The United Premium Plus cabin will be progressively retrofitted to Boeing 777-200 and 777-300 aircraft and fitted onto newly delivered Boeing 787-10 aircraft.

It is now available for sale on select international routes for travel from 30 March 2019. In the first few months, it will be available on just one return flight between London Heathrow and San Francisco, flights UA900 and UA901, from Tuesday 30 April 2019.
Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 5 December 2018”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 28 November 2018

The Atlantic Update is a weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

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"Flotsam and Jetsam", Miami Design District
“Flotsam and Jetsam”, Miami Design District (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 28 November 2018.

JetBlue responds to Air France-KLM, Delta, & Virgin Atlantic JV

JetBlue has yesterday, Tuesday 27 November 2018, filed a motion before the US Department of Transportation.

This follows a request by Air France-KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic to combine their two transatlantic joint-ventures into one.

JetBlue does not object to the combined joint-venture per se, but requests that the Department demand the production of additional data and evidence. It should then undertake a rigorous competitive analysis of the transatlantic market.

JetBlue cities, inter alia, the failure of Primera Air, the proposed acquisition of Wow Air by Icelandair and IAG’s acquisition of Aer Lingus and its bid for Norwegian, that transatlantic traffic is heavily dominated by the three major airline alliances.

JetBlue is particularly concerned at the consolidation of competition at London Heathrow where Delta and Virgin may be able to utilise Air France and KLM’s slot portfolio, as well as Amsterdam and Paris Charles de Gaulle airports.

Underlying this is JetBlue’s own ambition to launch transatlantic flights to the UK and Europe from Boston and New York. Clearly, if sufficient new remedy slots become available at Heathrow, these could enable JetBue to fulfil its plans. (Airline Info)

UK – US Open Skies

The Financial Times reports that negotiators from the UK are due to meet in Washington today for a final round of talks to agree a UK-US Open Skies agreement.

This will, for airlines flying between the UK and the US, replace the existing EU-US Open Skies agreement following the end of the transition period after the UK leaves the European Union.

Existing UK based airlines operating flights from the UK will retain their rights to fly to the US under grandfathering provisions. However, any new market entrants will have to demonstrate that they are majority owned and controlled in the UK.

Unsurprisingly, UK airlines will not be able to participate in the “Fly America” programme which mandates that US Government employees fly on US airlines. (Financial Times)

American Airlines introduces Boeing 787-9 on Heathrow – Chicago O’Hare

American Airlines will increase capacity on two of its four daily return flights from London Heathrow – Chicago O’Hare from Sunday 31 March 2019.

Flights AA47/AA46 and AA87/AA86 will be operated with the larger Boeing 787-9, instead of the Boeing 787-8. This features a much larger business class cabin and premium economy.

Given recent changes on transatlantic routes shared between AA and BA, there are signs that AA is focusing on its major US hubs in Charlotte, Dallas Fort-Worth, Philadelphia, and Phoenix, with BA focusing on other hubs such as Miami.
Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 28 November 2018”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 21 November 2018

The Atlantic Update is a weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

Sunset at the Florida Keys
Sunset at the Florida Keys (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 21 November 2018.

Thanksgiving Holiday

This week of course marks the Thanksgiving holiday.

US airlines expect to carry more than 30 million passengers across the 12 day travel period up to Tuesday 27 November 2018. The busiest days are expected to be Sunday 25 November and Monday 26 November 2018. At the time of writing, whilst it will be very cold in the North East, there are no major weather disruptions expected to travel.

Delta launches La Guardia – Key West

Delta has announced a new seasonal Saturday service from New York La Guardia to Key West, Florida.

The route launches on Saturday 9 March 2019 and operates until Saturday 31 August 2019. Flights are operated with an Embraer E-170 aircraft. Flight DL6007 departs La Guardia at 09:00 and arrives in Key West at 12:43. The return flight DL5914 departs Key West at 13:13 and arrives in La Guardia at 16:24.

Brightline to become Virgin Trains USA

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has announced it is to take a minority stake in the privately owned rail company Brightline.

It recently launched a new rail service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Peach, with ambitions to extend to Tampa and Orlando. The service will be rebranded as Virgin Trains USA in 2019.

Virgin Group has long been keen to extend its brand presence in the US, which has diminished of late due to the sale of Virgin America. It does of course retain a presence through Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Galactic and Virgin Hotels. There is clearly scope for significant cross promotion.

Also of note this week:

Nashville International Airport sets out its expansion plans. (BNA Vision)

Late Post Publication Updates

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT. If you have any comments, suggestions or tips then please drop us a line at mail [@] londonairtravel.com

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 14 November 2018

The Atlantic Update is a weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

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California Wildfire News Coverage
California Wildfire News Coverage (Image Credit: CNN International)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 14 November 2018.

California Wildfires

Attention continues to be focused on the destructive wildfires in Northern and Southern California.

Since the weekend airlines have put in place flexible rebooking policies. Some of these have been extended within the past 24 hours. Transatlantic flights from London are operating normally.

Passengers due to fly on American Airlines or British Airways up to Friday 16 November 2018 to Burbank, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento and San Francisco can rebook on an alternative flight from and to the same destination up to Sunday 25 November 2018.

American Airlines passengers should look up their booking online in the first instance.

British Airways passengers should contact BA or their travel agent.

United has also announced a travel waiver allowing passengers due to fly to Burbank, Los Angeles and San Francisco to reschedule up to Sunday 25 November 2019.

General Advice

Evacuation orders remain in place and there are warnings about poor air quality in some areas. In terms of general information, general advice on the Camp Fire in North California is available from Butte County.

Advice on the Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles is available from the County Of Los Angeles, and the City of Malibu.

Also of note this week:

Delta has announced a new twice daily route from Atlanta to Burbank airport from July 2019. (Delta)

JetBlue has announced new summer seasonal routes from New York La Guardia and Westchester airports to Nantucket Massachusetts from June 2019. This will complement existing services from Boston, New York JFK and Washington Reagan airports. (JetBlue)

Late Post Publication Updates

American Airlines and British Airways have introduced flexible rebooking policies for passengers due to fly to the North East of the US up to Friday 16 November 2018. Passengers can rebook up to Tuesday 20 November 2018.

Delta has issued a weather waiver in advance of expected severe weather in the North East of the US on Thursday 15 November 2019. (Delta)

United has announced it is to progressively introduce the Boeing 787-10 aircraft on select transatlantic routes from Newark, but not Heathrow, from late March 2019. (United)

The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT. If you have any comments, suggestions or tips then please drop us a line at mail [@] londonairtravel.com

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 7 November 2018

The Atlantic Update is a weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

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Iceland (Image Credit: Icelandair)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 7 November 2018, our weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel.

Why does Icelandair want to buy WOW air?

Icelandair surprised the press on Monday by announcing it is to buy its sole Icelandic rival WOW air.

It’s an all share transaction which values WOW air at around $18m. The transaction is subject to the approval of competition authorities and Icelandair’s shareholders.

WOW air was founded by Skuli Mogensen in 2011. Its initial ambitions were to carry visitors between Iceland and the UK and mainland Europe. In recent years it has been engaged in an aggressive expansion to capture connecting traffic between North America and Europe, which now accounts for around half of its passengers. Passengers have increased five fold over the past three years to reach an estimated 3.6 million this year.

WOW air was catching up Icelandair – which traces its routes to 1937 – in market share at Keflavik airport and had ambitions to overtake it in 2019. Approximately 80% of WOW air’s routes overlap with Icelandair.

However, this had all come at a cost. Aggressive fare competition, rising fuel prices and expansion costs had hit its yields. It had been losing money and had already suspended a number of North American routes, some just months after launch.

It had no fuel hedging strategy and so was exposed to rising fuel prices. North Atlantic traffic is seasonal and a difficult winter lay ahead. Whilst Icelandair is in a much stronger financial position, it has not been immune to competition and has reported falling revenues and yields.

Just two months ago WOW air’s founder announced its ambitions to raise $200-300m in an Initial Public Offering. However, that plan now lays in ruins.

The plan is for both airlines to retain their separate brands. “Dual brand” strategies are far from unusual. However, there are some aspects of this transaction that do not quite make sense. It’s unusual to retain separate brands where two airlines are in overlapping markets, albeit WOW air does target a younger demographic than Icelandair. There is also relatively limited scope for synergies. Icelandair operates a fleet of Boeing aircraft. WOW air operates exclusively Airbus aircraft, all under finance or operating leases.

It has to be said the idea that Reykjavik can become the Dubai of the North Atlantic is not wholly convincing. About a third of the city pairs offered by WOW air are served by direct flights. There has to be a very good reason to take a connecting flight over a non-stop one. There is also a reassurance in taking a connection at hub where you can be confident there are alternative options should you miss your connection. What Emirates did to brilliant effect in Dubai is create swathes of new one-stop connections that did not previously exist.

Airlines do not ordinarily buy struggling rivals out of charity. IAG CEO Willie Walsh, in characteristically blunt fashion, once described airlines going bust as the best form of industry consolidation there is.

By buying WOW air, Icelandair has eliminated a local rival that could have fallen into the hands of a larger group. However, the quality of execution and moving quickly and decisively to eliminate loss-making capacity will be critical.

The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT. If you have any comments, suggestions or tips then please drop us a line at mail [@] londonairtravel.com

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 31 October 2018

The Atlantic Update is a weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

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Artist Impression of The Underline Miami
Artist Impression of The Underline Miami (Image Credit: The Underline)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 31 October 2018, our weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

BA Airbus A380 Transatlantic Operations

Now that the summer travel season has ended, there are a number of changes to BA’s Airbus A380 transatlantic operations.

There are also many changes for the summer of 2019. The aircraft is, by some margin, our preferred option for any direct transatlantic flight from London. This may of course change when both BA and Virgin Atlantic introduce the Airbus A350-1000 next year.

It should be noted that these are subject to change according to commercial and operational demands.

Boston

Three times weekly Airbus A380 flights on Monday, Friday and Sunday have now ended. The A380 will return daily on flights BA213 & BA212 for the entirety of the summer season from Sunday 31 March 2019 to Saturday 27 October 2019.

Chicago O’Hare

Daily Airbus A380 flights have now ended. The A380 will then return daily on flights BA297 & BA296 for the entirety of the summer season from 31 March 2019 to 27 October 2019.

Los Angeles

Flights BA283 & BA282 have now switched from an Airbus A380 to a Boeing 747. BA continues to operates the Airbus A380 daily on flights BA269 & BA268.

From 31 March 2019, BA269 & BA268 will operate with the Airbus A380 on Monday, Friday and Sunday only.

Miami

The Airbus A380 has returned to one of BA’s now three daily flights to Miami, BA208 and BA209, until Sunday 14 April 2019.

San Francisco

Daily Airbus A380 flights have now ended. Flights BA286 & BA287 are operated with the Airbus A380 on Monday, Thursday, Saturday until Saturday 30 March 2019. It then resumes a daily service from 31 March 2019 to Sunday 27 October 2019.

Vancouver

Daily Airbus A380 flights have now ended. The route has reverted back to a Boeing 747. The A380 will then resume daily from Sunday 5 May 2019 to Monday 30 September 2019.

Miami’s High Line

Following the phenomenal success of The High Line New York, a model example of bringing redundant infrastructure back into use, many cities around the world have tried to come up with their own version.

Miami’s is the The Underline.

This is, initially at least, a ten mile park under the Miami Metrorail track. The first phase breaks ground tomorrow. The Miami Herald takes a look at the project’s ambitions.

On a related note, voters in the US go to the polls next Tuesday 6 November 2018.

Given the febrile political climate attention is inevitably focused on Washington and whether the Democrats will gain control of the House of Representatives and Senate. There are also a number of regional ballots.

Residents of Miami Beach are being asked to approve the issue of a $439 million bond to fund a vast number of infrastructure improvements.

Projects of interest to visitors include a new hotel near to Miami Convention Centre, improvements to many parks, an expansion of the Art Deco museum on Ocean Drive, and an extension of the Beachwalk from 79th Street to 87th Street.
Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 31 October 2018”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 24 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.

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Charleston, South Carolina (Image Credit: Charleston)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 24 October 2018, our weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

A New Trend: The “Pop Up” Transatlantic Route?

Over the past four years, BA has methodically added one new Boeing 787 transatlantic route to its London Heathrow – North America route network at a time.

It started with Austin in 2014. San Jose, New Orleans and Nashville subsequently followed, almost exactly 12 months apart.

When BA announced Pittsburgh from April 2019 in July, it was assumed that would be it for another 12 months.

Those airports, such as St Louis, that had missed out this time would have to wait another year. As IAG CEO Willie Walsh had previously said there were about five US cities BA could serve profitably with the Boeing 787 it was also assumed that it would soon exhaust potential new routes.

Not so. Last week announced another new route to Charleston. However, this route announcement is different. It is seasonal and it only operates twice weekly.

It is extremely rare for BA to launch seasonal long-haul routes at Heathrow. It does of course have a strong summer seasonal short-haul programme with approximately 20 routes operating typically twice a week.

This is plainly aimed at the premium leisure market. It is a market that serves BA well. Passengers book well in advance. It has also proven to be resilient in a downturn in a way that corporate traffic isn’t.

Anecdotally, the launch of Charleston has attracted interest from those who have previously visited the region and do not relish an international-domestic connections at US airports.

It is no secret that a lot of US airports covet a potential direct link to Europe and will offer incentive packages such as revenue guarantees and reduced landing fees.

If this route is considered a success, do not be surprised to see many more US airports offer incentives to BA to launch more seasonal long-haul routes. Many readers no doubt have their preferred destinations in the US and would gladly take a direct route.

Although BA has to reach a ceiling on its US route network at some point, this could prove to be transformational in terms of direct US routes from London.
Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 24 October 2018”