The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 BST providing a weekly briefing on transatlantic routes between Europe and North America as well as major developments at airports and cities in North America.
Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 5 September 2018. It is a relatively short bulletin this week due to public holidays.
BA Long-Haul Schedule Changes
BA has confirmed a few transatlantic schedule changes for 2019:
– Heathrow to Las Vegas will reduce from 10 to 7 weekly from Saturday 28 October 2018 and will remain so throughout the 2019 summer season.
– London Gatwick to Las Vegas will increase to 6 times weekly from Sunday 31 March 2019. This is no doubt a competitive response to Virgin Atlantic moving the route to Heathrow.
– Heathrow to Phoenix will reduce from 10 to 7 weekly from Friday 26 October and will remain so throughout the 2019 summer season. This was expected after American Airlines announced it was launching this as a summer seasonal route.
Tropical Storm Gordon
As Tropical Storm Gordon is expected to make landfall, according to National Hurricane Center it is expected to gain strength as a Category 1 hurricane.
A number of US airlines have implemented flexible rebooking policies for passengers due to travel in the Gulf Coast region.
The airports expected to be affected are Baton Rouge, Panama City, Gulfport, Lafayette, Mobile, New Orleans, Pensacola and Destin Fort Walton Beach.
Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 29 August 2018. As the summer draws to a close, we are beginning to see a number of announcements by airlines for their schedules for summer 2019.
Will “London Airways” return to UK regional airports?
A little over 10 years ago, BA earned itself the moniker “London Airways”.
The airline had been progressively reducing its presence at UK regional airports. It effectively paid Flybe to take its regional short-haul operations off its hands. The straw that broke the camel’s back for many regional passengers was the withdrawal of the last remaining long-haul flight from Manchester, a Boeing 767 service to New York JFK. The aircraft was transferred to Heathrow to enable BA to launch a new flight to Calgary.
For a time, it seemed that BA could leave regional transatlantic flights to its joint-venture partner American Airlines.
However, it has not worked out quite like that. American Airlines has withdrawn both New York JFK and, from 3 September 2018, Chicago, from Manchester. This leaves just one route to Philadelphia. Meanwhile, both Thomas Cook and Virgin Atlantic have built up credible networks to most major transatlantic gateways at Manchester.
The picture is similarly patchy at other regional airports. American’s seasonal routes from Glasgow to Philadelphia and Edinburgh to New York JFK are suspended permanently this year. United also flies to Newark from a number of UK regional airports.
Of course, American and BA do have by far the biggest prize of all, which is a dominant position at Heathrow. This is a market that can sustain nearly 30 flights a day to New York alone. They may be happy to leave regional flights to others and it does also have Aer Lingus to draw feed into its hub in Dublin. However, the transatlantic market is clearly growing in markets like Manchester. BA’s cost base is radically different from what it was ten years ago and, combined with an aircraft like the Airbus A321 Long Range, this could prompt a return.
Primera Air Diversions to Reykjavik
Primera Air’s troubled start to transatlantic operations continues.
After having to wet lease aircraft to cover some flights, it is now operating some flights on its Stansted – Newark route with a Boeing 737-800 aircraft in place of an Airbus A321. A consequence of this, yesterday’s flight to Newark had to stop in Reykjavik for refuelling. Publicly available flight data shows a number of flights from 2 September will also be operated with a Boeing 737-800.
Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 22 August 2018. As the summer draws to a close, we are beginning to see a number of announcements by airlines for their schedules for summer 2019.
American Airlines launches London Heathrow – Phoenix
American Airlines is to launch a new summer seasonal service from London Heathrow to Phoenix.
American will fly daily from Sunday 31 March 2019 to Saturday 26 October 2019 with a Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
This will complement BA’s existing service from London Heathrow to Phoenix. However, it is not known whether BA will change its current summer frequency of 10 flights a week.
BA has yet to announce any significant schedule changes for the summer of 2019. However, it will increase London Heathrow – Seattle from 12 to 14 times a week.
American Airlines European Network Changes
American has also announced a number of changes to its European transatlantic network.
It is quite a mixed picture. Philadelphia is clearly becoming an important transatlantic hub for American. However, it is also withdrawing routes from UK regional airports which, unless AA and BA take action, will be left wide open to Delta and Virgin Atlantic. In Manchester, having now suspended Chicago and previously New York JFK, American is left with one just one route to Philadelphia.
Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 15 August 2018. As it’s a relatively quiet news week in August, this edition has been dedicated to the imminent closure of BA’s subsidiary airline OpenSkies.
BA bids adieu to OpenSkies
In a little over two weeks, and just a couple of months after its tenth birthday, OpenSkies will operate its final flight between Paris Orly and Newark.
OpenSkies took its name from the Open Skies treaty of 2007 which liberalised the EU-US transatlantic air travel market. Hitherto, the operation of transatlantic routes was heavily restricted. Open Skies gave EU and US airlines the freedom to operate routes anywhere between the EU and the US.
Many European airlines took advantage. Air France launched a short-lived flight between London Heathrow and Los Angeles, dubbed “Loss Angeles” by then BA CEO Willie Walsh.
Under the codename “Project Lauren”, BA decided to launch a new subsidiary OpenSkies. The company had its own CEO, Dale Moss, a former BA Executive who returned to the group. It started with grand ambitions. The plan was to provide with the airline with at least ten reconfigured Boeing 757s from BA to operate flights from cities all over Europe to the US. Its launch was controversial and provoked industrial relations tensions with BA pilots who objected to the establishment of a new airline outside of their collective bargaining agreements.
On launch, OpenSkies was clearly aimed at the US market with its cabins branded “Biz”, which was effectively a reupholstered version of BA’s first Club World flat bed, and “Prem” (also briefly called “Biz Seat”) for premium economy and “Eco” for economy.
The branding and service style at the time of launch was quite distinct from BA. It borrowed very much from “boutique” premium airlines of the era such as Silverjet and eos. The intention was give the feel of a small airline, with just 82 passengers on board each flight, but with the backup and support of its parent, such as the Executive Club frequent flyer programme.
The airline launched with its inaugural route from Paris Orly to New York JFK on 16 June 2008. It soon acquired another French all business class airline, L’Avion. Whilst it was well received by passengers, later route launches between Amsterdam and New York and Paris and Washington were not successful. In early 2009, BA decided to sell what remained of its Boeing 757 fleet rather than transfer them to OpenSkies.
At launch, OpenSkies was the only significant means of expansion for BA. It had withdrawn all non-London flights from UK regional airports and significantly downsized at London Gatwick. With no imminent prospect of a third runway, there was no scope for growth at Heathrow.
However, BA soon turned its attentions elsewhere. In early 2011, BA merged with Iberia under the umbrella of International Airlines Group. It also finally, on its third attempt, secured a long sought after joint-venture with American Airlines. Most significantly of all, the acquisition of bmi in 2012 enabled substantial growth at Heathrow, much of which has been on transatlantic routes.
OpenSkies had been in limbo for some time with no evident plan to upgrade its fleet and in-flight product which, baring the addition of a BA Boeing 767, has remained the same since launch.
The service will effectively be replaced by IAG’s low cost airline LEVEL which will fly from Paris Orly to Newark four times weekly with an Airbus A330 aircraft from Tuesday 4 September 2018. La Compagnie will continue to offer an all business class from Paris to New York. However, the fact that IAG is replacing OpenSkies with low cost long-haul LEVEL points to the future direction of travel.
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
Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 8 August 2018, 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 wet leases HiFly Airbus A380
As has been widely reported in aviation circles online, Norwegian has, since Friday 3 August 2018, wet-leased a second-hand HiFly Airbus A380 to cover one of its daily flights from London Gatwick to New York JFK (DI7015 / DI7016).
Few would ordinarily complain about travelling on a former Singapore Airlines Airbus A380. However, there is one big problem.
Due to the number of Airbus A380 flights scheduled to arrive at New York JFK Terminal 1 at the same time such as Air France AF10 from Paris Charles de Gaulle and Emirates EK205 from Dubai and Milan, its departure time from Gatwick has been changed from 17:05 to 21:05. This means arriving at JFK at around midnight, which clearly scuppers any chances of late night drinks in Manhattan.
Worse still, for passengers travelling from New York JFK to Gatwick the inbound flight is delayed until past 03:00, by which time many will have been without a hotel room for over 15 hours.
Affected passengers do have the option of rebooking to an alternative flight. However, do bear in mind the alternative flight (DI7013) departs Gatwick at around 05:30-06:30 in the morning. The timing is brutal in terms of both getting to Gatwick in the early hours of the morning and trying to stay up for the rest of the day on arrival in New York.
Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 1 August 2018, 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 launches Pittsburgh. What’s Next?
BA continues a steady expansion of its North Atlantic route network at London Heathrow with the launch of Pittsburgh from April 2019.
This follows a methodical approach of announcing one new route a year to cities not served by a direct route to London or, in some cases, Europe. Previous new routes include Austin, San Jose, New Orleans and Nashville.
Austin has, judging by recent capacity increases, been very successful. San Jose has been subject to targeted cancellations during Boeing 787 groundings. It is too soon to judge New Orleans or Nashville.
It is no secret that a lot of US airports would love to secure a direct link to London. Some have been meeting with BA for many years. Airports have offered BA a package of incentives such as deals on landing fees and revenue guarantees.
It is likely that there will be 1-2 further new routes. BA has actively avoided launching routes already served by Delta at Heathrow. Being the sole operator of a route to London does give the airline pricing power in the market. So that excludes Detroit, Minneapolis, Portland and Salt Lake City.
The expansion will end at some point, but there are still candidates for new routes such as Indianapolis, Kansas and St Louis.
US East Coast Weather Disruption
Storms are forecast in the New York airport area due to over the next couple of days.
Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 25 July 2018, 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.
Air France, Delta, KLM and Virgin Atlantic at London Heathrow
As we reported on Sunday, Air France-KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic have sought regulatory approval to combine their two transatlantic joint-ventures.
At present, Delta has a joint-venture with Virgin Atlantic covering flights between the UK and the US. It also has an entirely separate joint-venture with Air France-KLM covering flights between Europe and the US.
What’s the rationale behind combining them?
Put simply, American Airlines and BA.
Delta and Virgin Atlantic serve all major US gateways from London Heathrow, bar some exceptions such as Chicago. They serve cities such as Los Angeles and New York with a competitive level of frequency. They also have a growing presence in Manchester.
However, it is clear from their submission that this is not enough to win corporate contracts and the loyalty of European frequent flyers from American and BA. Following the merger of bmi British Midland into BA in 2012, Virgin has very little by way of short-haul connections at Heathrow. It also has a shrinking non-US network.
A key principle behind these joint-ventures is the concept of “metal neutrality”. All participating must treat each others flights equally for marketing purposes.
By combining their joint-ventures, the four airlines will be able to offer a vast number of connections from the UK, mainland Europe and the rest of the world to North America via Heathrow, Amsterdam and Paris Charles de Gaulle. Air France and KLM have a much stronger non-US network than BA, notably in Africa and Asia.
Passengers in the UK will have the option of connecting via Paris Charles de Gaulle, albeit with an element of backtracking, to flights not served at London Heathrow such as Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh.
Virgin Atlantic will also be able to draw feed from Amsterdam and Paris to routes not served by either airport such as Las Vegas, which moves to London Heathrow in March 2019.
The combined joint-venture will also have a much stronger presence at UK regional airports. Indeed, KLM operates from a number of UK airports not served by BA such as Cardiff, Durham Tees Valley, Humberside and Norwich.
Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 18 July 2018, 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.
New US Airline Commits To 60 Airbus A220-300 Aircraft
When Virgin America was folded into Alaska Airlines earlier this year, many passengers mourned the passing of a young upstart and continued consolidation in the US airline industry.
There now appears to be firm plans for a new US airline start-up. Airbus has confirmed that an as yet unnamed airline has committed to 60 Airbus A220-300 aircraft (formerly known as the Bombardier CSeries) for delivery from 2021. Last week JetBlue also announced that it had ordered 60 of the Airbus A220-300 aircraft.
The new airline will be founded by a group of investors led by David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue. It should be noted that at this stage there is only a Memorandum Of Understanding, and not a firm order.
Breaking into the US domestic market is not easy. Readers may recall the launch of Virgin America was subject to intensive lobbying efforts which delayed its launch. There were also competitive responses to new route launches with incumbent airlines aggressively adding capacity on matching routes to dilute fares.
United Fleet Order
On a more cautious note, United has announced it has ordered 25 Embraer E-175 aircraft and 4 new Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
The new Embraer aircraft will be delivered in 2019 and will replace an equivalent number of CRJ-700 aircraft operated by United Express. The Boeing 787-9 aircraft will be delivered in 2020 and will also act as replacement aircraft, but no further detail has been provided.
Primera Air confirms Winter transatlantic schedule
Primera Air’s launch of transatlantic routes from the UK did not get off to the best start.
It cancelled the planned launch of transatlantic routes from Birmingham to Newark and Toronto. The launch of Stansted to Toronto was delayed. It had to wet lease aircraft to cover Stansted – Newark and this route has been beset by delays and cancellations.
However, Primera Air is soldiering on into the winter. Routes from Stansted to Newark, Toronto and Washington will continue throughout the winter. Stansted to Boston will end in early December. Primera Air has yet to confirm schedules for Summer 2019.
US “Big Three” Airlines Release Q2 Results
All of the “Big Three” US airlines have now released their Q2 financial results.
Some performed better than expectations, notably United. There is less positive news at Delta which is seen as the industry leader. It reported a fall in net profit. A key theme is increasing fuel prices which airlines will seek to pass on to passengers through higher ticket prices. No doubt this will be a similar theme in Europe as well.
Also Of Note This Week
Air Canada is to open a refurbished Maple Leaf Lounge in St John’s International Airport this autumn. (Air Canada)
Alaska Airlines launches its new summer menu which will be available until 15 November 2018. (Alaska Airlines)
Late Post Publication Updates:
[Reseved 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
Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 11 July 2018, 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.
These aircraft were formerly known as the Bombardier C-Series CS100 and CS300. SWISS operate the A220-300 on selected flights between London Heathrow and Geneva.
JetBlue has announced it has ordered 60 A220-300 aircraft which will be delivered from 2020. It also has options for a further 60 aircraft which, if exercised, would be delivered from 2025. The aircraft will be used to replace JetBlue’s existing fleet of 60 Embraer E190 aircraft from 2020 to 2025.
JetBlue has also converted an existing order 25 Airbus A320neo to Airbus A321neo aircraft.
It is interesting to note that the JetBlue press release makes no mention of any orders for the Airbus A321 Long Range which, if ordered, could be used to launch services to Europe.
Virgin Atlantic adds flights for Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show
Last year Virgin Atlantic added special flights from London Heathrow to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronic Show.
These will return in 2019. Virgin Atlantic will add additional flights from London Heathrow to Las Vegas on Saturday 5, Sunday 6, Monday 7 and Thursday 10 January 2019. Return flights from Las Vegas operate on Saturday 5, Sunday 6, Thursday 10 and Friday 11 January 2019.
This is in advance of Virgin permanently moving the route from Gatwick to Heathrow from Sunday 31 March 2019.
Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 4 July 2018, 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.
You say deplane, I say disembark
Today is of course Independence Day in the United States, at a very challenging time for many constitutional norms in the country.
Judging by our Instagram feeds, many are spending it in Cape Cod, pictured above, where its always fun to fly around on Cape Air and its tiny Cessna 402 aircraft.
Primera Air Delays
Primera Air is almost three months into long-haul operations at London Stansted.
It is now flying to Newark, Boston and Toronto, with Washington Dulles to follow in August. However, it has not been an easy start. Primera Air has had to lease in aircraft to cover the late delivery of Airbus 321 aircraft. Flights to Newark have been covered by National Airlines Boeing 757 aircraft over the past ten days or so. However, this has resulted in delays with some departures delayed extensively into the early hours of the morning, resulting in a brutal early morning arrival in New York.
Long-haul operations aren’t easy for small airlines as its much harder to cover aircraft availability issues with such a small fleet and without the support of joint-venture and alliance partners. However, a reputation of operational reliability is vital for all airlines, particularly new market entrants. Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 4 July 2018”