The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 17 July 2019

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American Eagle & British Airways Aircraft, Miami International Airport
American Eagle & British Airways Aircraft, Miami International Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

The Atlantic Update Takes A Summer Break

This will be the last Atlantic Update for a few weeks as it takes a break for the summer.

This is partly as it is a relatively quiet period for news and also to accommodate a special series for the summer which launches next Monday, 22 July 2019. The Atlantic Update will return on Wednesday 4 September 2019.

In terms of developments to watch over the coming weeks:

It is usually at this time of year that BA announces a new transatlantic route for next summer from London Heathrow with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Previous routes have been Austin, San Jose, New Orleans, Nashville and Pittsburgh. All of these, bar Pittsburgh, had no direct link to Europe which gives a clue as to likely contenders for a new route. That said, there has to be a point where BA has exhausted new transatlantic route options, at least with the 787.

On the subject of BA and transatlantic routes, last year the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) announced it was to investigate the transatlantic joint-business involving BA, and American Airlines, Finnair and Iberia.

The basis for this was that the commitments made by the joint-business in 2010 when it was reviewed by the European Commission are due to expire and in light of the UK’s planned departure from the European Union, the CMA has opened a fresh review of the joint-business.

Following an initial information gathering exercise, in April the CMA opened a full investigation which is due to conclude this summer.

What can be said with confidence is that there will have been intense lobbying by JetBlue for slots at London Heathrow.

Also, nothing can be taken for granted as far as the CMA is concerned. It has taken a tough line in other cases. It effectively killed a planned merger between two UK supermarket chains, ASDA and Sainsbury’s. Also, when Amazon recently acquired a minority interest in the food delivery service Deliveroo during a funding round, the CMA issued an initial enforcement order barring any integration between the two businesses, ahead of a decision whether to carry out a formal investigation.

Also of note this week:

A heat wave is forecast this week for many Central and Eastern states. (National Weather Service)

The Atlantic Update returns on Wednesday 4 September. Join us next Monday 22 July, for the launch of a special series for the summer. You can always get in touch by dropping an e-mail to [mail @ londonairtravel.com]

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 10 July 2019

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

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Norwegian Boeing 787 aircraft.
Norwegian Boeing 787 aircraft (Image Credit: Norwegian)

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

Norwegian Cuts London Gatwick – Las Vegas

Norwegian celebrated five years of long-haul operations at Gatwick last week.

However, the period of rapacious growth has clearly come to an end. Norwegian has confirmed it has suspended London Gatwick – Las Vegas. The route launched in 2016 and switched to winter seasonal last year.

Austin, Chicago and Seattle are suspended for the winter from Sunday 27 October 2019. As per last year, Austin is currently scheduled to resume from late March 2020. At present, there are no flights available for Chicago and Seattle for summer 2020.

Severe Weather Forecasts

Severe weather is forecast for the North East region today and a number of airlines including Delta and KLM have issued weather waivers.

The National Hurricane Center is also reporting a high probability of a tropical cyclone in the Gulf of Mexico this week.

On a related note, the Los Angeles Times reports on the impact of rising sea levels in California.

Post Publication Updates:

BA has reopened its newly refurbished lounge in San Francisco, which includes a new dining area for First Class passengers. (SFGate)

BA has also produced a 360 view of the new lounge which can be viewed here.

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

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 3 July 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

Provincetown, Cape Cod
Provincetown, Cape Cod (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

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

It is of course a week of public holidays with Canada Day on Monday and the Independence Day holiday tomorrow, 4 July.

Delta revamps long-haul economy service

It’s not often you hear of investments in long-haul economy, particularly from US airlines.

Delta is to revamp its long-haul economy service from November of this year.

Economy passengers will be offered a complimentary “Welcome Aboard” cocktail such as a Bellini (made with sparkling wine and peached puree) after take-off.

Delta also promises an improved main meal service described as “bistro style” with improved starters, a larger main course with dessert served separately, all on improved tableware. Beers, wines and spirits remain complimentary.

Delta Long-Haul Economy Catering
Delta Long-Haul Economy Catering (Image Credit: Delta)

A hot towel service will also be offered after take-off and before landing.

One difference between flying internationally on US airlines and European/Asian airlines is often there is a perception of no-one really leading the in-flight service. Delta also promises that senior crew members have undergone additional training and will have added responsibilities such as greeting passengers on boarding the aircraft.

In the grand scheme of things, these changes may seem relatively modest but they do put a stop on other airlines being tempted to pare back their own in-flight service.

As reported last week, Delta is also refurbishing its fleet of Boeing 767-400 aircraft will operate on the majority of flights from London Heathrow next year.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 3 July 2019”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 26 June 2019

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

Manhattan at Sunrise
Manhattan at Sunrise (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

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

Delta Boeing 767-400 Flights From London Heathrow

Delta currently operates a mixture of Airbus A330 and Boeing 767 aircraft on its transatlantic routes from London Heathrow.

Delta is currently upgrading its fleet of Boeing 767-400 aircraft. This is far from the most modern aircraft to traverse the Atlantic.

However, Delta’s refurbished aircraft do benefit from its new “Delta One” business class cabin. This is expected to be a modified version of the Delta One seat which Delta operates on Airbus A350-900 and retrofitted Boeing 777 aircraft, neither of which serve Heathrow. It promises more personal storage and significantly improved personal privacy with 34 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.

These aircraft will also feature Delta’s 20 seat premium economy cabin, Delta Premium Select for the first time. This does bring much greater parity between Delta and its transatlantic joint-venture partner Virgin Atlantic.

Refurbished aircraft also benefit from ambient lighting and Delta’s bespoke seat back in-flight entertainment system which relies on wireless streaming to deliver content.

Delta has advised that Boeing 767-400 aircraft will operate from London Heathrow on the following routes:

London Heathrow – Atlanta (Flight DL31/DL30) from Wednesday 13 November 2019

London Heathrow – New York JFK (Flight DL2/DL1) from Sunday 17 November 2019

London Heathrow – Boston (Flight DL59/DL58) from Thursday 21 November 2019

Routes from Heathrow to Detroit, Minneapolis and Portland will operate with The Boeing 767-400 from as yet unspecified dates in the second quarter of 2020. The one exception is Salt Lake City.

If you are booking flights online at Delta you will see these flights flagged with “New Interior”.

Also of note this week:

American Airlines confirms its retirement schedule for passenger flights with MD-80 aircraft. (American Airlines)

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

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 19 June 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

Airbus A321 XLR Aer Lingus Livery
Airbus A321 XLR Aer Lingus Livery (Image Credit: Airbus)

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

The Airbus A321XLR Makes Its Mark

In the days after the formal launch of the Airbus A321XLR at the Paris Air Show it is already making its mark.

Airbus has secured orders from IAG for Aer Lingus and Iberia, who have both earmarked the aircraft for transatlantic flights.

Aer Lingus already has 8 Airbus A321 Long Range on order and should take delivery of its first aircraft shortly.

With a range of 4,700 nautical miles, Aer Lingus should be able to reach all of the US and Canada from Dublin with the Airbus A321 XLR. Reading between the lines of IAG’s news release it may be used to add frequencies to existing routes to optimise connectivity.

The decision to buy this aircraft will have been dictated by efficiency but IAG is at pains to emphasise passengers can expect the same comforts as a widebody long-haul flight.

One IAG airline not to have ordered the aircraft yet is of course BA. Unless BA is planning a return to UK regional airports, it’s unlikely that this will be operated by BA on transatlantic flights. The Boeing 787-8 clearly serves the airline well as a means of entry into new transatlantic markets.

Virgin’s Run Of Bad Luck In Boston

Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-300 G-VKSS, Boston Logan Airport
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-300 G-VKSS, Boston Logan Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

One of the few reliable pleasures of long-haul flying is the eastbound transatlantic day flight.

The vast majority of passengers are flying direct and fresh from slumber and are in a very relaxed mood. And as the aircraft arrives at the airport from London the day before, you can normally be confident your flight will run as scheduled and can rely on a on-time departure.

This has not been the case with Virgin Atlantic’s relatively new day flight from Boston to London Heathrow.

VS158 has been cancelled for two days running on Monday 17 June and Tuesday 18 June. This seems to be due to a technical issue with one Airbus A330-300 aircraft, G-VKSS, which flew to Boston on Sunday and has not yet been fixed.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 19 June 2019”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 12 June 2019

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

New York Skyline
New York Skyline (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

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

The Death of the New York “Power Lunch”

New York’s Four Seasons restaurant closed for the final time yesterday, Tuesday 11 June.

The Four Seasons restaurant originally opened in 1959 in the Seagram building in New York. After a difficult start, it became the ultimate symbol of the New York “Power Lunch”, a term coined in 1979 by former Esquire editor Lee Eisenberg.

The point was not the food, but to do deals over elongated lunches in its Grill Room and to see and be seen amongst Wall Street deal makers, editors from Conde Nast, TV news anchors, fashion designers and politicians.

The Four Seasons left the Seagram building in 2016 – its contents were sold for over $4m at auction – and reopened last year on East 49th Street. Times have of course changed. Expense accounts are not what they were. Profligacy is frowned upon. Formal lunches are an anathema to Facebook and Google who now occupy vast swathes of New York real estate. Deals are not done over lunch but at informal meetings and over Skype.

Also in New York:

Uber has announced plans to launch “Ubercopter” which will offer helicopter rides between Manhattan and New York JFK from Tuesday 9 July 2019. Trips will cost in the region of $200-$225. Access will be restricted Platinum or Diamond Uber Rewards users. You also won’t be able to take checked luggage with you. This is the wrong solution to Manhattan’s poor links to JFK – what it needs is direct rail line.

The Museum of Modern Art closes temporarily on Sunday 16 June 2019 for a $450m remodelling. The museum will reopen on Monday 21 October 2019. It promises free access to ground floor galleries, improved traffic flows between floors, additional space for permanent collections and better representation of artist diversity. (MoMA)

It’s conventional wisdom that New York is best avoided in summer due to the stifling heat. However, the markedly more relaxed atmosphere as locals leave for the summer does have its attractions. There are also many free film screenings in Bryant Park, Hudson River Park and many other New York City parks.

Whereas London spreads outwards, Manhattan simply goes up higher. New York’s skyscraper boom. (New York Times)

Citylab on the nostalgic escape offered by the newly opened TWA Hotel at New York JFK. (CityLab)

Also of note this week:

One of the very few bright spots in rail travel in America are Amtrak’s Acela trains which operate between Boston, New York and Washington. CBS News takes a look inside Amtrack’s next generation train which will enter service in 2021. (CBS News)

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

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 5 June 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

Hudson River Park New York
Hudson River Park New York (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

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

TAP Air Portugal Begins Airbus A321 Long Range Transatlantic Flights

TAP Air Portugal has begun operating the Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft on transatlantic flights from Porto to Newark.

The inaugural flight was last Saturday, 1 June 2019. TAP is the first airline to operate the aircraft on transatlantic routes. It has 14 of the aircraft on order and has cited the potential to launch more routes to the East Coast of the USA. TAP’s A321 Long Range aircraft is configured with 16 seats in business class in an alternating 2-2 / 1-1 configuration and 152 seats in economy.

Aer Lingus has 8 Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft on order. However, the routes on which they will operate is in a state of flux as deliveries have been delayed. Norwegian also has 22 of the aircraft on order, initially for delivery from 2020. However, this is likely to be delayed.

Also of note this week:

Air Canada expects to complete its due diligence on the purchase of Air Transat by the end of June. (Air Canada)

British Airways pilot Mark Vanhoenacker marks the 100th anniversary of the first transatlantic flight. (Financial Times)

Michelin has published its first dedicated guide to California. 90 restaurants in California have received stars, with 7 receiving three Michelin stars. (Michelin)

The Metropolitan Transport Authority New York Transit is to provide clearer service status guidance to passengers. Three vague labels “Delays”, “Service Change” and “Planned Work” have been replaced. There are now seven indicators including Part Suspended, Trains Rerouted and Local to Express. (Metropolitan Transit Authority)

“Why New York Can’t Have Nice Things?” Why is infrastructure is so expensive to build in New York? (New York Magazine)

Construction by Virgin Trains USA of a new high speed rail line between Las Vegas and Southern California is likely to be delayed by two years. (Las Vegas Review Journal)

Not actually transatlantic, but the US Department of Transportation has given tentative approval to the proposed transpacific joint-venture between American Airlines and Qantas. This is subject to consultation and a final decision. American and Qantas must also report annually on the progress of their joint-venture. Qantas has indicated it will launch new routes from Brisbane to Chicago and San Francisco following regulatory approval. (Department of Transportation)

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

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 29 May 2019

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Airbus A350 aircraft
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Airbus A350 aircraft (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

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

Virgin Atlantic’s First Airbus A350 Test Flight

Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A350-1000 aircraft took its first test flight on Monday.

Aircraft G-VPOP, also to be known as “Mamma Mia”, took a three hour test flight in Toulouse. This will in fact be the second A350-1000 to be delivered to Virgin Atlantic. The first, G-VLUX, is also on the production line and will be the first aircraft to be delivered to the airline. Full details of the test flight are available from Virgin Atlantic.

The Airbus A350-1000 will first operate on one of Virgin’s six daily flights from London Heathrow to New York JFK. This will give Virgin a significant competitive advantage over BA on this route, who will have little choice but to make a competitive response.

Also of note this week:

This Friday, 31 May 2019, the Metropolitan Transit Authority introduces contactless payment on Staten Island buses and on the New York Subway 4, 5 and 6 lines between Grand Central – 42 Street and Atlantic Avenue -Barclays Center. This is ahead of a full roll-out of a full contactless payment known as OMNY. (OMNY)

The Mayor of Los Angeles announces funding for new initiatives to create bicycle and walking paths along the Los Angeles River in West San Fernando Valley. This is part of a broader plan to revitalise the Los Angeles River. (Mayor of Los Angeles)

San Francisco is a city that should in theory have a lot going for it – geography, progressive values and a temperate climate. But for a long time it has disappointed with a seemingly intractable problem with homelessness. The New Yorker looks at the impact of the tech boom on rising tensions in the city. (The New Yorker)

Late Post-Publication Updates

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

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

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 22 May 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

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

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 22 May 2019, providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 BST.

WestJet to operate Boeing 787 on Gatwick – Toronto

WestJet has confirmed that it will operate its new Boeing 787 Dreamliner from London Gatwick to Toronto Pearson daily from Thursday 24 October 2019.

This will replace a Boeing 767 and will offer a significant upgrade in comfort in all classes, with WestJet’s first international business class, and new premium economy and economy cabins.

This, with BA also operating the Airbus A350 to Toronto from Tuesday 1 October 2019 will make the route extremely competitive.

WestJet will also extend Boeing 787 Dreamliner on London Gatwick to Calgary year-round, with flights operating four times weekly from Monday 28 October 2019.

As reported last week, WestJet is to be acquired by Onex Corporation. Air Canada has also announced it has entered into exclusive talks to acquire the parent company of Air Transat which would give Air Canada a significantly stronger position in Eastern Canada (and prevent it from being acquired by Onex). This phase of consolidation does leave one major independent Canadian airline, Porter Airlines, which operates from Toronto City airport.

Salt Hotels Opens Asbury Beach Club

Over the past few years Salt Hotels has been building up a small, but perfectly formed, portfolio of properties in North East of the USA.

It has two properties in Cape Cod, Salt House Inn and Eben House and The Chequit on Shelter Island, New York.

It is also opening a second property in Asbury Park, New Jersey, Asbury Ocean Club Hotel on 1 July 2019.

The group does have further expansion plans and it is certainly one to watch.

US Government Withdraws Support for California High Speed Rail

The US is a land of extremes and contradictions.

A case in point is how such an economically powerful nation has such a poor track record on infrastructure investment, which gets caught up in federal, state, and city politics as well as powerful vested interests.

The US federal government has withdrawn $1billion in funding for High Speed Rail in California which has prompted the rail authority to sue the Trump administration.

Meanwhile, Brightline (soon to be Virgin Trains) has appointed contractors for a privately funded expansion to Orlando. Governing has a “state of the nation” report on the development of rail in North America.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 22 May 2019”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 15 May 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

American Eagle & British Airways aircraft, Miami
American Eagle & British Airways, Miami (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 15 May 2019, providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 BST.

BA London Heathrow Winter Schedule Changes

BA has advised of the following transatlantic schedule changes at London Heathrow for the winter timetable, which officially begins on Sunday 27 October 2019:

Boston increases to 25 flights a week, compared to the summer, with an extra flight on Thursdays.

Calgary is once again suspended for the winter from Friday 25 October 2019.

Dallas Fort Worth maintains its summer daily frequency, compared to 6 flights a week last winter.

Nashville reverts back from a daily summer service to four flights a week, on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Philadelphia increases to 12 flights a week, compared to 10 flights a week in summer and a daily service last winter, with additional flights on Monday and Tuesday.

There are also changes to Airbus A380 operations. For many years, BA has operated the Airbus A380 to Miami during the winter season, with an all Boeing 747 operation in the summer.

Based on current timetables, it appears that the Airbus A380 will not return this year. Instead, it will operate to Washington Dulles.

The big downside is that as Miami is operated exclusively with a 52 Club World seat Boeing 747, you’re not sure what you’ll get as a passenger until you board the aircraft. Some of these have been fully refurbished with new in-flight entertainment systems, some have received a light refurbishment, and others not at all.

WestJet to be acquired by Onex Corporation

WestJet announced on Monday that it is to acquired by private equity firm Onex Corporation, which has a broad portfolio of investments.

The transaction is subject to approval by WestJet shareholders which is expected to take place in July.

There is a bit of history here as in 1999 Onex engaged in an unsuccessful hostile take over bid for Air Canada, and had proposed to merge it with the now defunct Canadian Airlines International. Onex’s bid was backed by what was then AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines, which also owned a third of Canadian Airlines.

WestJet has released a video below featuring comments WestJet President and CEO, Ed Sims taking questions from journalists:

WestJet is keen to emphasise that it is business as usual, specifically regarding its presence in Calgary and employee industrial relations.

On a related note, CBC reports that the parent company of Air Transat has been approached by a potential buyer and the company is entertaining potential bidders.

American Airlines opens Dallas Fort Worth Flagship Lounge on Thursday

American Airlines opens its latest “Flagship Lounge” at Dallas Fort Worth tomorrow.

This follows existing Flagship lounges at Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, Miami and New York JFK.

These are American Airlines’ top tier lounges and are a big step up from its Admirals Club lounges.

Whilst the decor is not radically different from refurbished Admirals Club lounges (non-refurbished ones are another story..), the big difference is in food and beverage. There are self-pour bars and a substantially broader and more generous range of complimentary hot and cold self-service food. There is also a dedicated dining area for passengers travelling in international First Class.

It’s important to add that the Admirals Clubs and Flagship First lounges are not equivalents to BA’s Club and First lounges. American’s Flagship First lounges are open to both Oneworld Emerald & Sapphire cardholders and international business class and First Class passengers.

Further Flagship lounges are due to follow at London Heathrow and Philadelphia.

When the London Heathrow lounge opens, it might not snatch the crown of the best Oneworld lounge in Terminal 3, but it will certainly give Cathay Pacific, BA and Qantas a run for their money.