International Airlines Group has officially confirmed that it has abandoned its attempt to bid for Norwegian.
IAG issued a short update to the stock exchange shortly before 12:30 GMT on Thursday 24 January 2019 to confirm that it will not bid to buy the airline. It will also sell its shareholding of just under 4%.
Last April, IAG acquired a stake in Norwegian with a view to making a bid for the airline.
IAG always maintained that it would not make a hostile bid for the airline. It had made conditional offers in private which had not been accepted by Norwegian.
Due to the size of their shareholdings no bid could be successful without the support of its co-founders, Bjørn Kjos and Bjørn H. Kise who own a joint 27% stake in the airline.
IAG has praised Norwegian for proving there is a market for low lost long-haul travel but has said that Norwegian’s growth rate is unsustainable. Norwegian is currently moderating its growth as well as undertaking cost-saving measures and reshaping its route network.
It has to be said that given the number of overlapping city pairs between IAG airlines and Norwegian, and increased regulatory scrutiny of joint-ventures, it was unlikely a bid could succeed without significant slot divestures.
This means that IAG is likely to pursue growth in low cost long-haul through its own brand LEVEL, and a new aircraft order for LEVEL is expected shortly.
Norwegian issued the following statement in response:
“Norwegian’s plans and strategy remain unchanged. The company’s goal is to continue building a sustainable business to the benefit of its customers, employees and shareholders.”
Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 23 January 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.
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.
Hello and welcome to our weekly travel media and technology bulletin, published every Tuesday at 06:00 GMT.
Simon Mayo Joins Scala Radio
Simon Mayo ended a decades long career at the BBC last year, after some clumsy ham-fisted people management by the corporation.
For some time, Simon has been teasing his future plans. These have now been revealed. Bauer Media, which also owns brands such as Absolute Radio and KISS, will be launching a classical music and entertainment station on Monday 4 March 2019. It’s called Scala Radio, with the streamline “Classical Music For Modern Life.”
Other presenters include Angellica Bell, Goldie, Chris Rogers, Charles Nove, Mark Forrest, Mark Kermode, Sam Hughes, Jamie Crick and William Orbit.
One small technical point: BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM have higher bit-rates in stereo on DAB digital radio to preserve audio quality, whereas commercial radio groups happily compress their music stations into low bit-rate mono to squeeze in more stations. This station will need to have a high sound quality to compete.
Also of note this week:
The Controller of BBC Radio 4, a station with one of the most resistant to change audiences, Gwyneth Williams is to leave the corporation. (BBC)
In a sign of the pressures on online news websites, Janine Gibson, Editor In Chief of Buzzfeed UK, is to leave the website.
Facebook continues to play Whack-A-Mole with malicious Russian actors. (Facebook)
On a similar note, an extract in TIME from the book “Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe” by Roger McNamee. (TIME)
The Financial Times takes lunch with Meg Whitman, now CEO of short-form mobile video platform Quibi. One pertinent comment for Facebook, Google et al is how when at eBay it made a conscious decision not to allow listings for certain products, even when legally permissible. (Financial Times)
Google is to buy Fossil’s smartwatch business. (Fossil)
Welcome to our Monday Briefing of the year for the week beginning 21 January 2019.
Flybe and Connect Airways
The more you read about the deal between Flybe and Connect Airways, the more you wonder if those in the consortium know what they have let themselves in for.
There was an unexpected twist last week when Flybe plc circumvented the requirement for shareholder approval for its sale by agreeing to sell the trading subsidiaries of Flybe plc to the consortium, leaving Flybe plc effectively a shell company.
Now one major Flybe shareholder, Hosking Partners, is threatening legal action to block the transaction, albeit legal proceedings have not yet been instigated. (Sky News)
Virgin has had its fingers burned before. In the late 1990s, Virgin acquired EuroBelgian Airlines to launch a new low cost airline, Virgin Express. A subsequent flotation was hugely unsuccessful and the airline merged with what was then SN Brussels, later to become Brussels Airlines.
Aeromexico’s “DNA Discounts”
By now you’ve no doubt seen the AeroMexico’s “DNA Discounts” ad where the airline dives head first into the US Border Wall debate.
Brands have normally adopted a conservative with a small c approach to geopolitical and social issues. However, Nike and Gillette have found that the amount of free social media coverage and distribution is a price worth paying for threats of a backlash and boycotts.
The agency behind AeroMexico’s ad is Ogilvy, who also work for BA. Would we ever see a similarly provocative ad from BA or Virgin on Brexit? Probably not. The safety net for AeroMexico is that the people mocked in the ad were unlikely to travel with the airline in any event.
Cathay Pacific “You Asked Us” Series
Cathay Pacific has launched a nicely animated “You Asked Us” video series.
This video covers Cathay Pacific’s fleet decisions, such as its preference to offer a higher frequency of five Boeing 777-300 flights on London Heathrow – Hong Kong, instead of operating three Airbus A380s carrying the same number of passengers.
Kuwait Airways Returns To Baker Street
One of the last vestiges of the pre internet travel era is the city centre airline ticket office.
In spite of high demand for commercial property and soaring prices, there are still a good number dotted around London.
On Baker Street, you’ll find offices for Air Algerie and China Eastern. Elsewhere, there’s Eva Air in Euston and Thai Airways in Mayfair. Many, such as Korean Air in Piccadilly, have closed.
An always busy Kuwait Airways office closed on Baker Street a couple of years ago and is now occupied by a boxing club. However, the airline is now due to return in a new unit across the street which is now being fitted out.
Who knows maybe one day an airline will follow Apple and Samsung and launch a fully fledged “experience” store on the high street.
Etihad Holidays At Paddington
Etihad Holidays is launching, to use marketing speak, an “activation” at Paddington station this week.
Designed to promote the new Etihad Holidays website, from Tuesday 22 to Wednesday 23 January, the “sci-fi, steampunk style” activation will feature Etihad’s “Holiday machine” with prizes, including a chance to win a free trip to Abu Dhabi.
The general rule with these type of events is it’s worth stopping by, if you have the time when passing through.
It is assumed that a codeshare with BA, which also flies to Alicante from Gatwick, will soon become available.
Vueling has not had a great time of late, with significant operational delays in the summer, partly due to periodic industrial action by Air Traffic Controllers in Marseille.
It has also had a slightly haphazard approach to the London market with routes spread across Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton with no coherent marketing message.
Vueling also flies from Gatwick to Barcelona, Bilbao, Florence, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Rome. It also serves Asturias on a summer seasonal basis and this route returns three times weekly from Tuesday 2 April 2019. From Heathrow, Vueling serves A Coruña and Barcelona, and from Luton it serves Amsterdam and Florence.
Vueling has recently acquired Flybe’s last remaining Gatwick slots. The times below don’t match the exact times of Flybe’s slots and more slots will be acquired from late October so it’s assumed further routes may follow. Continue reading “Vueling Launches Gatwick – Alicante”
Aer Lingus has today, Thursday 17 January 2019, unveiled its new brand identity and livery.
It was unveiled by its senior management team at a press conference at Dublin Airport. This is the first major brand identity and livery update for Aer Lingus in over 20 years.
Aer Lingus is naturally keen to emphasise its modernity and geographically advantageous hub in Dublin as a gateway between Europe and North America. And, with an obvious nod to the interminable political turmoil in the UK, Ireland’s place in Europe and attractiveness to inward investment.
It’s almost 20 years since British Airways introduced its premium economy cabin, World Traveller Plus.
It has become increasingly popular in recent years, partly due to greater awareness, proactive upselling to economy passengers, and companies revising their corporate travel policies.
Whilst the cabin design has changed radically since its original inception (though you will still find the original seat on Boeing 747 and many Boeing 777-200 aircraft), the service itself has always been a slight variant of World Traveller economy.
Initially, partly due to cabin crew industrial relations, there was barely any difference. Over time, extra items such as pre-departure drinks, hot towels and a main course from the Club World menu have been added.
BA is this year launching an entirely new catering service with a dedicated menu for World Traveller Plus from February 2019.
In terms of the first meal service, the main changes appear to be largely presentational. There are new larger printed menus, a dedicated starter and dessert, all served on china.
The biggest, and most needed improvement, is to the second meal service. BA is now guaranteeing a hot option on all flights. This will be a snack on shorter flights and a meal on longer range flights. This will be welcome, particularly on shorter night flights, where the existing offering can be quite limited.
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.
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.