Heathrow has released its third annual Christmas film featuring Doris and Edward Bair.
London Air Travel
Heathrow Airport has released its third annual Christmas film, featuring Doris and Edward Bair.
After last year’s “Love At First Flight” film telling their 50 year relationship, Doris and Edward have retired to the warmer climate of Florida Keys.
However, the prospect of spending Christmas alone together eating a Turkey microwave ready meal in a sparsely decorated air conditioned retirement village does not appeal. They make a last minute getaway to return to the UK to see their extended family.
BA is offering selected passengers free access to PressReader on a trial basis.
London Air Travel
“Have you been offered a small glass of orange juice and complimentary browse of the Daily Mail?”
There’s now no excuse for complaining about the range of newspapers offered on board British Airways aircraft and in lounges.
BA is offering selected passengers free access to the PressReader digital reading service.
The new service has soft launched on a trial basis in the past few days.
PressReader offers users access to over 7,000 publications in more than 60 languages from over 120 countries. Available publications include The Guardian, The Washington Post, Vogue, GQ, and Bloomberg Businessweek. These are downloaded to the PressReader smartphone and tablet app for reading offline.
Full details of how the service works are on ba.com
BA passengers can access content from PressReader in one of two ways:
1. If you have booked a flight directly through BA you can obtain access to PressReader through a dedicated link when you receive an “It’s Time To Fly” e-mail 24 hours before your outbound flight.
You can then browse and download an unlimited number of titles for three days, and these can be kept on your device for as long as you wish.
Note you will not receive a further e-mail when you take your return flight. Also, if you have booked a flight through a travel agent, you will not receive an e-mail but this may be expanded in the future.
2. When you connect at any time to the WiFi network of a BA operated lounge, such as London Heathrow.
BA does not appear to be offering free access to passengers who connect to its paid-for in-flight WiFi service at the moment.
BA is offering this on a trial basis. It has given warning it may be withdrawn at any time. This suggests that PressReader is allowing BA to test take-up before committing to a long-term contract. Therefore, if you do value this service do make your views known in post-flight surveys.
The Atlantic Update is a weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.
London Air Travel
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 latest developments in media and technology, published every Tuesday at 06:00 GMT.
London Air Travel
Hello and welcome to our weekly travel media and technology bulletin, published every Tuesday at 06:00 GMT.
BBC launches BBC Sounds
The BBC has officially launched its new audio app BBC Sounds.
BBC Sounds is intended to ultimately replace its iPlayer radio app and brings the BBC’s live radio stations, on-demand audio and podcasts into one app.
You may have seen BBC Radio services have rebranded their social media feeds “Radio 1 on BBC Sounds”. The launch is supported by a big budget marketing campaign produced by BBC Creative with Riff Raff Films and directed by MegaForce
At the moment the app is only available for download in the UK. As you have to sign in to access the app’s content you can continue listening where you left off on other devices. To drive take-up of the app, some podcasts are only available on the app. It also features exclusive mixes and archive comedy and drama.
The Guardian launches daily news podcast
The Guardian has joined The New York Times and The Financial Times in launching a daily news podcast.
Published every weekday “Today In Focus” selects one issue for each 20 minute edition. The BBC has also launched a similar single issue daily podcast “Beyond Today”.
Whilst there were no surprises at the individual airline announcements, looking back a couple of days on there were a couple of interesting changes.
These presentations are usually dense on hard financial information and IAG’s uncompromising mantra of rational, disciplined, investment by a “brand agnostic” parent.
This year, it was noteworthy that IAG spent a lot of time discussing the relative brand positioning of its airlines.
IAG was quite candid that there were some areas its brands, such as BA, fall behind others in terms of perception. In the eyes of passengers, perception is of course reality.
Two of these airlines were easyJet and Emirates. To illustrate the the point, the day afterwards Emirates debuted the first of two new TV ad spots on UK television under the brand promise “Fly Better”. The first ad shows a passenger boarding an Emirates aircraft and being taken on a fantastical journey as cabin crew morph into different style dancers to demonstrate the breadth of its in-flight entertainment.
What Emirates does extremely well is hammering home its points of differentiation, such as its advanced in-flight entertainment systems. And selling a positive vision of the future “Hello Tomorrow”. The huge amount of attention given to Qantas’ launch of direct flights from London to Perth shows the power of the perception of progress. The suggestion is also that being that by flying Emirates you are part of something. As does easyJet with “Generation easyJet”.
It has been more than five years since BA ran a major brand-led marketing campaign. The last being “To Fly. To Serve. Today. Tomorrow”.
With BA’s centenary next year, there is clearly going to be a huge marketing push. Irrespective of budget and technical prowess, for any marketing campaign to be successful there has to be an underlying truth that customers can buy in to.
It has be said that BA’s preparation for its centenary feels a bit like the 2012 London Olympics. Until it happens you’ve no idea whether it will be an absolute triumph or beset by unforeseen problems.
IAG can claim to have delivered on the promises of its initial formation, namely cost and revenue synergies. Many legacy structural issues such as BA’s pension deficit have also been addressed. Whilst IAG does monitor customer Net Promoter Scores across all its airlines, there is no central group marketing / brand development function. Arguably, this should be the next stage of IAG’s evolution. Continue reading “Monday Briefing – 5 November 2018”
Our guide to travelling to and from London’s airports over the Christmas and New Year period.
London Air Travel
As thoughts turn to planning for Christmas, here’s our guide to travelling to and from London’s airports over the Christmas and New Year period.
This is based on known information at the time of publication. Due to timetable planning issues in the rail industry, some further changes may be announced in the coming weeks.
For the benefit of visitors, public transport in the UK on Christmas Day is extremely limited. Taxis and coaches are your only option.
Tube, suburban and long-distance rail services close down earlier on Christmas Eve – most by around 20:00. Retail outlets at stations will close earlier.
Most Tube lines operate on Boxing Day. However, the Waterloo & City Line and London Overground and TfL Rail services will not operate. Suburban and long distance rail services do not operate on Boxing Day.
The Christmas and New Year period is used for extensive engineering work on the UK’s rail network. There are closures on many lines serving both Gatwick and Heathrow.
Engineering work can overrun and encounter unforeseen problems, so there is risk of additional closures at short notice.
The big unknown is of course the weather. Gatwick and Heathrow have markedly improved their winter resilience planning in recent years. However, it is inevitable that any severe weather will cause delays and cancellations.
There will be significant disruption to rail services to London Gatwick over Christmas and New Year.
Due to engineering work closing lines between London Victoria and Clapham Junction, there will be no Gatwick Express services between London Victoria and Gatwick airport from Saturday 22 December 2018 to 04:00 Wednesday 2 January 2019.
Trains will continue to run from London Bridge and Blackfriars stations to Gatwick. Buses will replace trains between London Victoria and Clapham Junction. These, and Clapham Junction station, are expected to be very busy.
There will be significant disruption to overland rail services to London Heathrow over Christmas.
Due to engineering work closing lines between London Paddington and Slough, there will be disruption to rail services between Paddington and Heathrow from Sunday 23 December 2018 to Monday 31 December 2018.
The Heathrow Express from London Paddington to Heathrow Terminal 5 will not run from Sunday 23 December 2018 to Wednesday 26 December 2018 and on Sunday 30 December 2018. Trains will run at 30 minute intervals from Thursday 27 December 2018 to Saturday 29 December 2018 and on Monday 31 December 2018.
TfL Rail’s stopping service (formerly Heathrow Connect) will not run from London Paddington to Heathrow Terminal 4 from Sunday 23 December 2018 to Wednesday 26 December 2018 and on Sunday 30 December 2018.
As is standard practice, there are no Piccadilly Line services to Heathrow on Christmas Day due to the closure of the Tube. It resumes on Boxing Day.
Here are the major themes and announcements from IAG’s annual Capital Markets Day.
London Air Travel
International Airlines Group held its annual Capital Markets Day today, Friday 2 November 2018.
If you are so inclined, you can download the whole presentation of no less than 174 slides from the IAG website.
IAG prides itself of the consistency of its strategy, so there are no major surprises. The general theme is of IAG airlines consolidating their positions at their respective hubs, investing in profitable growth, and operational efficiencies.
However, there were some differences from previous years:
IAG is pursuing stronger airline brand differentiation
IAG has always distinguished itself as being a group with a portfolio of distinct brands, with operational independence.
Its brands to date have largely been defined by the geographic location of their respective hubs.
There seems to be more emphasis on brand differentiation and relative strength. This does not mean IAG will be changing its very disciplined approach to cost and investment. But there is a clear acknowledgement that in the current market, its brands can’t be everything to everyone.
BA and Iberia are the designated premium brands. Aer Lingus and Iberia Express are deemed “value carriers”. And Vueling and LEVEL are the low cost airlines.
It is noteworthy for an internal research exercise where IAG has identified 7 different market segments, there are some sections of the market where easyJet and Norwegian are positioned above BA in terms of perception. For example, BA is positioned below easyJet in the short-haul “Smooth Flying” segment and below Norwegian in the “Business on a Budget” segment.
In previous Capital Markets Days IAG has referred to knowing where it “stretch the [BA] brand” and where “the breaking points are”. It seems clear these have been tested in recent years.
With 1-2 cabins, it is far easier for easyJet and Norwegian to position themselves. For an airline with the network and number of cabins it has, BA needs broad appeal across price sensitive and premium business and leisure passengers. However, it seems clear that BA, and Iberia, will pursue sharper premium positioning in the market,
IAG is increasing its growth plans
Subject to market conditions, there are ambitions to grow IAG’s fleet from 386 short-haul aircraft this year to 467 in 2023. Long-haul aircraft are expected to increase from 201 this year to 249 in 2023.
Taking into account existing aircraft orders and planned retirements, IAG will need to exercise options or place new orders for 128 short-haul aircraft and 44 long-haul aircraft for delivery by 2023.
For BA alone, it plans to retire 36 Boeing 747s by 2024, and future deliveries of 16 Airbus A350-1000 and 12 Boeing 787-10 aircraft are not enough to replace these.
Given IAG plans to add increase long-haul aircraft by 16 in 2020 and 13 in 2021, we could be very many new routes announced by IAG airlines in the next 12 months.
In terms of major developments by airline:
As is expected, Aer Lingus is focused on growing its North American route network from Dublin, principally with the aid of the Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft.
The first 3 of 14 aircraft will be delivered in 2019.
Aer Lingus confirmed that it will introduce a new brand identity and staff uniforms. It will also reintroduce a form of short-haul business class “Aer Space” on some routes. This was planned before it was acquired by IAG, but had been put on the back burner.
Whilst Aer Lingus referred to successful partnerships with Alaska Airlines and JetBlue there is no sign of it imminently joining the transatlantic joint-venture with American Airlines or BA. It is still awaiting regulatory approval. There is also no date on it rejoining Oneworld. Given its relative strength in the US local market, it seems keen to preserve its relative independence and “value carrier” status.
One idea that may be trialled on Aer Lingus is an “on-demand” restaurant style dining where customers can pre-order food items on their personal devices.
There were a number of BA announcements, all detailed here.
The overarching theme is getting BA ready for its centenary celebrations in 2019 and ensuring its putting its best foot forward.
Before BA officially markets its centenary in August 2019, it will have unveiled its new Club World cabin and Airbus A350-1000 aircraft and introduced new catering and amenities in World Traveller Plus and First Class. There are also, as yet undefined, catering improvements planned for EuroTraveller and BA lounges.
Iberia seems largely focused on consolidating its position in Latin America and its core markets such as Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.
There’s been no mention of further growth to Asia or exploring new opportunities in Africa.
LEVEL will remain a “virtual” airline using assets of other airlines in the group, such as Iberia for Barcelona.
Whilst LEVEL does have ambitions to grow substantially over the next five years, it has not announced any new bases yet for 2019. Based on comments made by Willie Walsh last month, Paris Orly seems to not have started off as quickly as Barcelona. As a new CEO has started only very recently at LEVEL, it seems to be consolidating its existing routes before announcing any more.
Vueling is largely focused on consolidating its operation in Barcelona after a difficult summer due to Air Traffic Control disruption in Europe due to strikes in Marseille which have been a deep source of frustration to IAG.
It has recently introduced new fare types and removed its “Excellence” business class.
The one glaring omission is that there was very little mention of Avios at all.
It is known that initiatives have been underway to introduce a single Avios bank balance across IAG frequent flyer programmes and dynamic pricing of Avios rewards, but all mentions of Avios were conspicuously absent. As Avios is part of a dedicated business unit in IAG this is quite unexpected.
British Airways will introduce a new Club World seat when it takes delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft in July 2019.
London Air Travel
2019 is going to be the year of the long-haul business class war.
Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are going to introduce new long-haul business class seats with the Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.
For BA, this will be just before it officially celebrates its centenary. And Virgin Atlantic never does anything quietly.
This will be the first radical reconfiguration of their business class cabins in 15-20 years. Whilst both airlines have introduced new seats since they first introduced fully flat beds in business class near the turn of the century, the fundamental layout of the cabin has remained the same.
In the case of BA, this is its “yin-yang” 2-3/4-2 layout with backward and forward facing seats. For Virgin Atlantic, this is its reverse herringbone configuration with window seats facing into the cabin.
BA’s New Club World cabin
BA has today, Friday 2 November 2018, confirmed the following details of its new Club World cabin:
– The new larger seat will feature direct aisle access for all passengers.
– Personal storage and privacy will be improved.
– Gate to gate in-flight entertainment will be introduced for the first time, meaning that the TV monitor will be fixed into place, rather than adjustable as at present.
– BA has not given anything anyway at all regarding the look of the actual seat and cabin.
BA’s New Club World cabin on the Airbus A350-1000
The new seat will arrive when the first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft is delivered to BA in July 2019:
– Four Airbus A350-1000 will be in service by the end of 2019.
– BA will take delivery of 16 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft in total.
– BA will also take delivery of 12 Boeing 787-10 aircraft between 2020 and 2023 which will be fitted with the new cabin. The first six aircraft are due to arrive in 2020.
Retrofitting the new seat on existing aircraft
Over 100 aircraft will be fitted with the new seat:
– Two Boeing 777 aircraft will be retrofitted with the new seat by the end of 2019.
– The retrofitting of existing aircraft will continue in 2020 and will be completed by 2023.
– Given that many of BA’s competitors have experienced delays in retrofitting aircraft with new seats due to late deliveries from seat manufacturers, there may be a degree of expectations management at play here.
– It’s a safe assumption it won’t be retrofitted to Boeing 747 aircraft as most will be retired by 2023.
– Based on historical practice, Heathrow aircraft with the highest premium seating configurations, such as 4 class Boeing 777s, will be retrofitted first.
British Airways has set out its plans to introduce a new Club World seat and upgrade First and World Traveller Plus catering in 2019.
London Air Travel
International Airlines Group, the parent company of BA, is holding its annual Capital Markets Day today, Friday 2 November 2018.
This is one event where we learn of BA’s plans for the next 12 months. Here are the major BA headlines from the day so far. Please see here for a more broader update from IAG.
New Club World Seat
As has been widely been expected, BA will introduce a new Club World set with the Airbus A350-1000.
The first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft will arrive in July 2019. There will be four Airbus A350-1000 in service by the end of 2019. The new seat will also be retrofitted to two Boeing 777 aircraft by the end of 2019. The retrofitting of the new seat will continue from 2020. It will be fitted to over 100 long-haul aircraft and the retrofit will be completed in 2023.
BA promises an entirely new seat with direct aisle access to all and improved personal storage and privacy. There will also to be gate-to-gate in-flight entertainment for the first time, meaning that the monitor will be set in position, unlike at present.
The first Airbus A350-1000 routes should be confirmed by the end of the year. It is intended to replace the 52 Club World seat Boeing 747 which is heavily deployed on North American routes such as Las Vegas, Miami and Phoenix. There will be no First Class on the Airbus A350-1000. However, there will be more Club World seats and significantly more World Traveller Plus seats on the Airbus A350-1000 compared to the 52 Club World seat Boeing 747. BA has not given an exact breakdown by cabin, but there will be 331 seats on the aircraft. By comparison, an Iberia A350-900 has 348 seats.
BA has been trialling new First Class catering internally this year. It will introduce new First Class bedding, catering and amenities from May 2019.
As mentioned above, there will be no First Class on the Airbus A350-1000 aircraft which means that First is likely to be removed from a number of routes. BA will reduce the size of the First Class cabin from 14 to 8 seats on some Heathrow Boeing 777 aircraft as part of a full refurbishment of these aircraft.
World Traveller Plus
New World Traveller Plus catering and amenities will be introduced from early 2019. At the moment World Traveller Plus catering is a sort of hybrid with a World Traveller meal tray and a main course from the Club World menu.
As part of the Boeing 777 refurbishment programme at Gatwick and, from next year, at Heathrow, BA will continue to introduce a new seat and enlarge these cabins.
BA has said there will be “improvements” to EuroTraveller. No details have been given. However, it is highly unlikely that Buy-On-Board catering will be withdrawn.
The roll out of WiFi will be complete on short-haul aircraft by the second quarter of 2019. 80% of long-haul aircraft will have WiFi by the end of 2019.
BA will finish its refurbishment of the Club lounge in New York JFK in 2019. Lounges in Geneva, Johannesburg and San Francisco will be refurbished in 2019. Catering will also be improved at major BA operated lounges on the network. No timescale has been given for the refurbishment of the BA lounges at Heathrow Terminals 3 and 5. Lounges in Chicago, Manchester and Miami have also been previously earmarked refurbishment, but no dates have been given.
Heathrow Ground Services
As was announced recently, all Heathrow customer facing staff are to be equipped with iPads to enable customer service issues such as lost baggage to be resolved on first point-of-contact.
This should increase capacity to rebook passengers during disruption, where passengers have historically had to queue at ticketing desks, five fold. The training programme for this should be complete by 2019.
Fleet and Network Growth
Interestingly, there have been no major changes to BA’s fleet plan.
The refurbishment of Gatwick based Boeing 777-200 aircraft will continue in 2019. BA cites positive customer feedback, particularly with regard to aircraft interiors and in-flight entertainment.
Gatwick short-haul flights will be exclusively operated with Airbus A320 aircraft by 2021, with no Airbus A319 aircraft.
There are no announced plans for new long-haul routes at Gatwick yet. However, the focus will continue to be leisure based. Complementing existing Heathrow routes, such as serving Miami from Heathrow and Fort Lauderdale from Gatwick, seems to work well.
BA is targeting a higher rate of capacity growth of 3-4% in the coming years, with the largest percentage growth focused on long-haul markets outside of North America. BA has said that growth in Asia is likely to include increased capacity to existing airports in China when slots become available and possibly a new destination.
Based on the fleet plan published by IAG, there is a significant gap between the number of short and long-haul aircraft that IAG plans to have in service by 2023 and the number of aircraft in order. It is known that IAG has been in discussions with Airbus and Boeing on an aircraft order and an announcement is likely in the next few months.
BA does appear to be slowing down the planned retirement of its Boeing 747s. Last year, the plan was to have 22 aircraft in service by the end of 2020. The most recent plan published yesterday shows that 27 aircraft will be in service by the end of 2020. The retirement schedule will continue to accelerate after 2021. Continue reading “British Airways Plans For 2019”
British Airways is suspending its twice weekly service from London Heathrow to Tallinn from Friday 29 March 2019.
London Air Travel
British Airways is suspending its service from London Heathrow to Tallinn from Friday 29 March 2019.
The route currently operates twice weekly on Tuesday and Friday. BA will continue to serve Tallinn indirectly via a codeshare with Finnair from Helsinki.
Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a refund.
BA has also secured a rebooking agreement with SAS Scandinavian Airlines. Passengers can reroute via Copenhagen or Stockholm. In all cases, passengers must connect via a BA operated service between London Heathrow and Copenhagen or Stockholm.
It should also be possible to rebook on to BA’s codeshare with Finnair from Helsinki.
Affected passengers should contact either BA or their travel agent.