The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 6 March 2019

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

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Biosphere, Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal
Biosphere, Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 6 March 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.

Aer Lingus suspends Dublin – Montreal

Aer Lingus has suspended its planned launch of a new route from Dublin to Montreal this summer.  

The route was due to launch in August and was to be operated with the Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft. It will now launch on an unspecified date next summer.  Aer Lingus has cited delivery delays as the reason.   Aer Lingus will also reduce frequencies on Dublin – Bradley, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia and Shannon – New York JFK in July.  

This will not help IAG’s relationship with Airbus, where Willie Walsh has previously criticised Airbus for delays to the delivery of aircraft.

JetBlue’s European Ambition

It has been known for some time that JetBlue has ambitions to launch transatlantic services to Europe.

Whilst JetBlue has yet to publicly announce an order for Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft which are expected to be used for these routes, interest has piqued in recent months.

JetBlue has made submissions to US regulatory authorities that Air France-KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic should forfeit slots at European airports as a condition of operating a combined transatlantic joint-venture. This would provide JetBlue with easy access to slot-restricted airports such as Amsterdam and London Heathrow.

JetBlue has also send invitations for a media event on 10 April which has prompted further speculation.

JetBlue has many attributes its favour. It has a strong presence in Boston and New York. It’s “Mint” premium cabin on select transcontinental routes is well received.

However, long-haul operations are fundamentally different from short-haul. If JetBlue is to use a small dedicated fleet for transatlantic operations, it will need adequate recovery measures in the event of aircraft availability issues. When WestJet first launched transatlantic operations, it suffered significant reputational damage due to reliability issues with its fleet, albeit under different circumstances.

What can also be said with confidence is that JetBlue’s competitors will respond. IAG CEO Willie Walsh said of JetBlue’s plans at its Capital Markets Day last November:

And yes, I would say jetBlue is not a low-cost operator. It’s a good airline, good brand, good quality service. But I don’t think there’s anything there that we should be concerned about. We know how to compete. And we know how to compete with new entrants, existing entrants and pretty much anybody else. So if they do, there’s certainly room for them. And it’s a good market and a growing market that we would see, but it’s not something that would be of any particular concern.

Readers may recall that when the now defunct airline eos launched Stansted – New York JFK, American Airlines also launched a short-lived spoiler service.

Should JetBlue launch London Gatwick – Boston, do not surprised if BA launches a spoiler service, as it did when Norwegian launched Gatwick – New York JFK.
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The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 27 February 2019

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

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Alaska Airlines, Palm Springs Airport
Alaska Airlines, Palm Springs Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 27 February 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.

It’s time for a diversion from our usual flight path for this week’s Atlantic Update.

Palm Springs has long been famous for its midcentury architecture and as a getaway from Los Angeles for famous Hollywood stars. It’s a city where even banks are of architectural interest.

Bank Of America, Palm Springs
Bank Of America, Palm Springs (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

In February every year Modernism Week celebrates the midcentury architecture of the city with talks, guided neighbourhood tours and self-guided open houses. We were fortunate to attend this year’s event.

As the photos below illustrate there are some truly stunning homes on display:

Palm Springs
Palm Springs (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
Palm Springs Modernism Week 2019 Featured Home La Vie En Rose
Palm Springs Modernism Week 2019 Featured Home La Vie En Rose (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 27 February 2019”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 20 February 2019

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

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Flying Over Greenland, February 2019
Flying Over Greenland, February 2019 (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 20 February 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.

American Airlines Secures Access To The Private Suite At Los Angeles

American Airlines has long offered a “Five Star Service” enabling passengers to purchase access to its top tier “Flagship” lounges and personal escorts at certain airports.

Passengers travelling through Los Angeles can, for a handsome fee, now secure access to a private terminal known as The Private Suite with a dedicated check-in and security screening for departing passengers, and customs and immigration for arriving passengers.

United announced a similar partnership last year. Whilst an expedited journey through the airport is one of the main benefits, this is really aimed at passengers who value discretion and privacy above all else.

In addition, passengers travelling through Los Angeles and New York JFK can also secure a helicopter transfer to / from the airport with helicopter charter company Blade. This can be done by selecting “American Add On” via the Blade app or website.

New Norwegian Routes

Norwegian may be battling to get its finances in shape, but it has not been deterred from launching new transatlantic routes.

Norwegian will fly from Athens to New York JFK four times weekly from Monday 1 July 2019 to Saturday 25 October 2019. Judging by the amount of New Yorkers who head to the Greek islands each summer, this could be very successful if onward connections were offered.

It will also fly from Barcelona to Chicago O’Hare four times weekly from Friday 7 June 2019 to Saturday 26 October 2019. Norwegian will also increase frequencies from Barcelona to New York to daily and Los Angeles to six times weekly.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 20 February 2019”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 13 February 2019

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

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

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

TWA Hotel Opens For Booking

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

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

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

European Commission Approves Air France-KLM stake in Virgin Atlantic

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

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

Virgin’s American Ambitions

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

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

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

American Airlines To Operate Heathrow-Phoenix Year Round

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

Also of note this week:

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

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

Late Post Publication Updates

[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 6 February 2019

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

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Virgin Atlantic San Francisco Clubhouse
Virgin Atlantic San Francisco Clubhouse (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 6 February 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.

Virgin Atlantic San Francisco Clubhouse Access

Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse in San Francisco has long been one of its more popular lounges outside of London.

The one downside is that the lounge could only be accessed before security. As of yesterday, Virgin Atlantic has advised that the lounge is now accessed airside in the departures area. You can access the lounge by taking a lift to Level 5 after security.

Severe Weather

Severe weather conditions continue across the United States.

American Airlines and BA have a travel waiver in place for the mid-West region including Chicago and Toronto. Passengers due to travel today or tomorrow can rebook up to Sunday 10 February.

Delta also has a travel waiver for the North East region. Passengers due to travel up to Thursday 7 February can rebook up to Sunday 10 February.

Equinox Hotel New York Opens In June

One of most dismal aspects of almost any hotel is its fitness room.

Photographs are always conspicuously absent from the hotel’s website. It’s usually located in a windowless basement with an odd assortment of equipment and devoid of any atmosphere. It’s a token effort as, unlike hotel bars and event spaces, they can’t be rented out with high minimum bar spend guarantees. Hotels have started to embrace “wellness”, usually with group yoga classes at an unspeakably early hour.

Equinox, which operates upscale gyms across the US and two in London, is opening its first Equinox Hotel in Hudson Yards New York this is June.

Exact details are scant – bar a conceptual film featuring Naomi Campbell – and it’s not yet accepting bookings. Based on Equinox’s gyms this will certainly look good, but will be handsomely priced.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 6 February 2019”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 30 January 2019

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

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Norwegian Aircraft
Norwegian Aircraft (Image Credit: Norwegian)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 30 January 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.

Norwegian’s Dash For Cash

Norwegian announced yesterday that it is to raise approximately £270m from its shareholders through a rights issue.

Norwegian’s co-founders and major shareholders Bjørn Kjos and Bjørn Halvor Kise have committed to support the rights issue.

Norwegian has outlined a number of measures to improve its financial performance, namely divesting, and postponing new deliveries, of aircraft and reshaping its route network.

Whilst the existing Gatwick long-haul network is likely to be spared any drastic cuts, it’s hard to envisage Norwegian fulfilling its previous ambition to launch Airbus A321 Long Range operated routes from London Gatwick to Philadelphia, Detroit and Minneapolis.

Norwegian is to bring forward its financial results announcement to next Thursday 7 February. Preliminary, and presumably unaudited, results indicate a loss for the year of nearly £200m before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. At the end of 2018, Norwegian had cash, and cash equivalents, of £170m.

Interestingly, whilst Norwegian would not entertain the two informal bids from IAG, short of formally putting itself up for sale, it has indicated a willingness to receive offers from other parties.

US & Canada Severe Weather

Severe weather conditions continue across parts of the United States and Canada.

Travel waivers are in place for a number of regions.

American Airlines and BA have two in place. For the North East of the US and Canada, passengers due to travel up to Wednesday 30 January can rebook up to Saturday 2 February. For Chicago, where the forecast today is extremely low temperatures of -30 degrees celsius, passengers due to travel up to Thursday 31 January can rebook up to Sunday 3 February.

Delta and Virgin Atlantic also have a travel waiver in place for passengers due to travel via Atlanta. Passengers due to travel up to Wednesday 30 January can rebook up to Saturday 2 February.

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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.

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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.
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