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”

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.

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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”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 10 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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CGI Image of redeveloped New York JFK
CGI Image of redeveloped New York JFK (Image Credit: Governor of New York State)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 10 October 2018, our weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

New York JFK Development Plan

Last week the Governor of New York State Andrew Cuomo heralded a $13billion revamp of New York JFK.

Anyone who has flown out of New York JFK with any degree of frequency will be familiar with the airport’s problems.

It does not give a good first impression on arrival to visitors who face a long journey to their hotels on Subway cars not equipped for passengers with luggage as there is no direct rail link to Manhattan.

On departure, there are long queues from pushback from the terminal gate to take off. Delays are common place. Many professional pilots do not have a particularly high opinion of Air Traffic Control.

Terminals 1 and 2 will be demolished and a new $7billion 2.9m sq ft terminal will be built in their place and on a site formerly occupied by Terminal 3. It will be constructed by a consortium of four airlines, Air France, Japan Airlines, Korean Air Lines and Lufthansa. The new terminal will be operated by Munich Airport International and connected to the existing Terminal 4.

Another new $3billion 1.2m sq ft terminal will be constructed by JetBlue on a site formerly occupied by Terminal 6 and a to be demolished Terminal 7. It will be connected to JetBlue’s current home in Terminal 5.

This is a typically American approach to infrastructure investment, namely heralding private sector investment and not actually being prepared to spend public money on fixing underlying problems.

Whilst there is some public funding to improve road access, that’s about it. There are also no new runways and no improvements to Air Traffic Control.

For UK based passengers, the biggest news is that Terminal 7, home to BA’s JFK operation, will be demolished. BA has to yet to comment on these plans. It is of course in the middle of a revamp of the terminal with the new First lounge having opened last week.

Logically, BA could move to Terminal 8 to colocate with American Airlines. AA and BA are at a disadvantage to Delta and Virgin Atlantic at JFK, and indeed Heathrow, in that they do not share terminals.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 10 October 2018”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 3 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 » The Atlantic Update

Primera Air - Winter
Primera Air – Winter

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 3 October 2018, our weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

Winter Is Coming

Primera Air has now joined eos, FlyGlobespan, MaxJet, Silverjet and Zoom on the list of defunct transatlantic airlines.

There has been huge growth in the transatlantic market in recent years with Norwegian pursuing rapacious growth at Gatwick and niche routes between secondary airports with the single aisle Boeing 737 Max. Wow Air and Icelandair have sought to make Reykjavik the Dubai of the North Atlantic.

Norwegian has already suspended all transatlantic routes from Belfast and Edinburgh and announced some winter seasonal suspensions at Gatwick. Wow Air has suspended Edinburgh, San Francisco and Stockholm from Rejkjavik. With Brent Crude reaching $85 for the first time in nearly four years, attention is inevitably going to be focused on smaller airlines.

It is often said that it is during the good times that airlines sow the seeds of their difficulties during a downturn. With a rising oil price and significant geopolitical uncertainty on both sides of the atlantic, it is going to be a long winter.

American Airlines Route Announcements

American Airlines has announced a number of new routes in the Americas for the summer of 2019.

This includes a number of new routes from Dallas Fort Worth, its principal hub.

From Sunday 3 March 2019, American will launch new domestic routes from Dallas Fort Worth to Valley International Airport, Harlingen, Texas; Augusta Regional Airport, Georgia; Gainesville Regional Airport, Florida; Yuma International Airport, Arizona; and Meadows Field Airport, Bakersfield, California.

From Tuesday 2 April 2019, American will launch new year-round services to Flagstaff Pulliam Airport, Arizona and Hollywood Burbank Airport, California. It will also launch seasonal service to Monterey Regional Airport, California.

Elsewhere, American will launch new routes on Thursday 14 February 2019 from Reagan National Airport, Washington, to Will Rogers Airport, Oklahoma City; from La Guardia to McGhee Tyson Airport, Knoxville, Tennessee and from New York JFK to San Antonio International Airport, Texas.

Also launching on Tuesday 2 April 2019 is a new route from Los Angeles to Tulsa International Airport, Oklahoma and from Saturday 8 June 2019 a new seasonal route from Charlotte to Cherry Capital Airport, Traverse City, Michigan.

These routes will be on sale at aa.com from Monday 8 October 2018.
Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 3 October 2018”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 26 September 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 » The Atlantic Update

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

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 26 September 2018, our weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

The pleasure of the transatlantic day flight

It was 30 years ago this year BA launched the Club World brand. Its long-haul business class was previously known as “Super Club”.

To mark the launch Saatchi & Saatchi created one of the most 1980s BA advertisements of the 1980s “Red Eye”.

In a game of naked one-upmanship, it features London based executives attempting to set up a fellow male colleague heading straight to the office from a flight from New York. Denied travel in First Class, he was “like a lamb to the slaughter”.

Alas, the plot was foiled. He flew Club World. He was thus able to have dinner, incorporate the latest figures into his report, and get a decent nights sleep for the day of boardroom politics ahead.

In reality, this is of course implausible. These flights are short and possibly one of the least pleasurable aspects of long-haul travel, regardless of where you are seated in the aircraft. There’s the uncertainty of how restful your fellow passengers will be. Sometimes there’s tangible tension between those desperate to go to sleep as soon as the wheels of the aircraft leave the runway and those happy to enjoy the full service of the flight.

There is of course another option. The transatlantic day flight. There are a small number of flights that leave the US and Canada in the morning and arrive at Heathrow in the evening.

The main downsides are that you do need to get to the airport very early which means either staying at the airport or doing battle with rush hour traffic. And if you miss your flight there won’t be another one for around 10 hours!

However, there’s markedly more relaxed atmosphere on board. Due to timings all passengers are flying direct so all are fresh from a night’s sleep and have little to think about on arrival. The most significant difference of all is vastly reduced jet lag.

Why don’t we have more of these flights? Its partly due to scheduling inefficiencies as it necessitates leaving an aircraft at the airport overnight and they are reliant on passengers travelling direct.

Here are the main transatlantic day flights from the US and Canada. Timings are indicative and some vary by day, as well as season.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 26 September 2018”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 19 September 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 » The Atlantic Update

Miami International Airport
Miami International Airport (Copyright 2017 Miami-Dade Aviation Department)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 19 September 2018, our weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

Hurricane Florence

The US continues to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

The airport currently most affected is Jacksonville North Carolina which at the time of writing is without power.

American Airlines has restored operations at all but two airports. The airline expects to restore operations at Jacksonville today and Greenville North Carolina tomorrow, Thursday 20 September 2018.

Delta has almost restored operations to normal. A travel waiver remains in place for Jacksonville and Wilmington North Carolina.

United has resumed near normal operations. The one exception is Wilmington which is expected to resume operations on Thursday 20 September 2018.

New Rail Link from Las Vegas to Southern California

Brightline, which operates a privately owned railway in Florida, has acquired the rights to develop a new railway from Las Vegas to Southern California.

It has bought a company called XpressWest which has Government approved rights to develop a railway line between Las Vegas and Southern California.

The first phase will connect Las Vegas to Victorville with future plans to expand to Los Angeles. The 185 mile line will be constructed on land adjacent to Interstate 15. Construction is expected to begin next year and the line will open in 2022.

Brightline is acquiring 38 acres of land adjacent to the Las Vegas strip to construct the railway station and a new mixed use development. From a cursory scan of XpressWest’s history this project has been a long time in the making so it will be interesting to see how it can start construction so quickly.

Brightline currently operates between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with plans to expand to Orlando.

From European perspective where rail investments are Government funded and operations are subsidised, it is a mystery as to how a new railway line can be constructed and operated entirely with private funding. It seems that the associated property development opportunities that arise as a consequence play a signifiant part.

Given how public US infrastructure projects with even the most blindingly obvious business cases can be mired in toxic federal/state/city politics and be subject to intense corporate lobbying, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 19 September 2018”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 12 September 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 » The Atlantic Update

Hurricane Florence
Hurricane Florence (Image Credit: CNN)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 12 September 2018, our weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

Hurricane Florence

In the US at the moment, all eyes are on Hurricane Florence as it approaches the coasts of North and South Carolina.

It is currently a Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds expected to reach 150 mph. The states of North Carolina and South Carolina have issued mandatory evacuation orders for many coastal counties. Tropical storm force winds are expected to reach the East Coast by Thursday morning.

Airports across North and South Carolina and some airports in Virginia and Georgia are at risk of disruption.

These include: Asheville, North Carolina; Augusta, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; Charlottesville, Virginia; Columbia, South Carolina; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Florence, South Carolina; Greensboro / High Point, North Carolina; Greenville / Spartanburg, South Carolina; Greenville, North Carolina; Hampton / Newport News, Virginia; Hilton Head, South Carolina; Jacksonville, North Carolina; Lynchburg, Virginia; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; New Bern, North Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia; Raleigh / Durham, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Roanoke, Virginia; Savannah, Georgia; and Wilmington, North Carolina.

American Airlines, Delta, United and many other North American Airlines have issued a weather waivers for passengers due to travel to/from the region over the next few days. Some airlines have also waived baggage fees and introduced capped fares for select domestic fights.

In the UK, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are allowing passengers due to travel to the region to defer travel up to Wednesday 19 September 2018.

Both BA and Virgin Atlantic have this morning extended their flexible rebooking policy to Washington Dulles. BA is also allowing passengers due to fly to Baltimore to rebook.

Although there are no cancellations at present, American Airlines flights between London Heathrow and Charlotte and Raleigh / Durham may be at risk of disruption.

Updates are also available from the National Weather Service.

The National Hurricane Center is also monitoring Tropical Storm Isaac which is currently moving west across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and Hurricane Helene which is moving north west across the Atlantic.
Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 12 September 2018”