Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 27 March 2018

Our weekly bulletin on the latest developments in media and technology around the world, as published every Tuesday morning at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

British Airways Boeing 747 G-BYGC featuring a radome encasing two satellite antenna for internet access (Image Credit: Nick Morrish/British Airways)
British Airways Boeing 747 G-BYGC featuring a radome encasing two satellite antenna for internet access (Image Credit: Nick Morrish/British Airways)

Hello and welcome to our weekly travel media and technology bulletin featuring the latest developments on media and technology around the world, published every Tuesday at 06:00 BST.

The long wait for BA WiFi

It was two years ago that BA confirmed it was to add WiFi to its long-haul fleet. BA first began trialling WiFi on a single Boeing 747 four years ago.

With a pair of flights on refurbished Boeing 747s, and one on BA’s most important route New York JFK, we thought our chances of finally experiencing a WiFi equipped aircraft would be good.

Would there be a glimpse of the radome on top of the aircraft before boarding? Would there be announcement from the Cabin Service Director? No.

There was a video on the in-flight entertainment system explaining how it worked. However, as the moving map tracked the climb of the aircraft to above 10,000 feet we checked devices for signs of a WiFi network. But, it wasn’t to be.

It is hugely frustrating that WiFi is still only on a small number of aircraft. It seems almost implausible that BA will meet its target of 90% of aircraft having WiFi by the end of 2019.

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Monday Briefing – 26 March 2018

Welcome to our weekly Monday Briefing on the main developments in air travel in London and around the world, as published every Monday morning at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, Qantas Pilots & Cabin Crew at Perth Airport
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, Qantas Pilots & Cabin Crew at Perth Airport (Image Credit: Qantas)

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 26 March 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look the week ahead.

Qantas completes inaugural non-stop Perth – London flight

There will no doubt be a great sense of relief at Qantas that its inaugural flight from Perth to London Heathrow, with a fuselage brimming with journalists and politicians, went without a hitch.

Alas, our invitation to the inaugural flight was lost in the post. However, you can read first hand accounts from Natalie Richards of The West Australian and this video report from Beau Pearson of Network Ten Australia:

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told the Sydney Morning Herald that non-stop flights to Paris are under consideration, subject to the performance of London – Perth.

Many UK journalists will be on board the inaugural London – Perth flight QF10 which left Heathrow at 13:09 Sunday afternoon and should arrive in Perth at around 06:00 BST / 13:00 AWST. They will no doubt be filing their own reports shortly after landing.

Qantas is naturally upbeat on forward bookings for the route. Whilst airlines never give away exact numbers on the performance of individual routes we should know in a couple of months from Civil Aviation Authority data how the route is performing in terms of passenger numbers.

Qantas has also opened a new international transit lounge in Perth dedicated to passengers transiting in Perth when travelling on QF9/Q10 services from/to Melbourne and passengers travelling from Perth to London.
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BA Club World Catering: New York JFK – London Heathrow

A review of BA’s new Club World catering & bedding on New York JFK – London Heathrow.

London Air Travel

BA Club World Catering - New York JFK - London Heathrow Day flight
BA Club World Catering – New York JFK – London Heathrow Day flight (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

A week after our first review of BA’s new Club World catering and bedding on London Heathrow – Philadelphia, here’s our second take on the new catering service.

Why a second review?

Well, BA uses a different catering company, Do & Co, on New York JFK from all other long-haul routes.

This review is also conducted on one of a handful of transatlantic day flights from the US to London Heathrow. Whilst these flights do necessitate an early start and a short day is lost to flying, it is infinitely more pleasant and relaxed than a red eye.

There’s no rush to get the seat fully flat after take-off. Nor any need for the crew to have to navigate the sometimes visible tension between those passengers who want to maximise every moment for sleep and those who want to sit back and enjoy the service.

It should also be said this particular flight only operated out of sheer luck. On the day of this flight, this was the only BA flight to operate between New York and London. All other flights were cancelled due to severe weather on the US East Coast. Had this flight departed a mere one hour later it too could have been cancelled.
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The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 21 March 2018

The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 GMT, providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

London Air Travel

Delta Air Lines - New York
Delta Air Lines – New York

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 21 March 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 GMT.

US East Coast Severe Weather

This is like Groundhog Day.

The US East Coast is once again set to be beset by severe weather today, Wednesday 21 March.

At the time of writing, American Airlines and BA have cancelled all flights from all London airports to Newark and New York JFK. BA has also cancelled some flights to Boston and Philadelphia. BA has also retimed some flights to Philadelphia and Washington Dulles.

Virgin Atlantic and Delta have cancelled all flights from London Heathrow to Boston and Newark and almost all flights to New York JFK.

United has cancelled and retimed some flights from London Heathrow to Newark.

Nowergian has also cancelled all flights from London Gatwick to New York JFK.
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Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 20 March 2018

Our weekly bulletin on the latest developments in media and technology around the world, as published every Tuesday morning at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

Two contrasting Wired Magazine covers on Facebook
Two contrasting Wired Magazine covers on Facebook (Image Credit: Wired)

Hello and welcome to our weekly travel media and technology bulletin featuring the latest developments on media and technology around the world, published every Tuesday at 06:00 GMT.

Facebook in the dock

Make no doubt about it, Facebook is in serious trouble on both sides of the Atlantic.

This follows revelations that Cambridge Analytica is alleged to have mined data from some 50 million unwitting users of the platform. This was done via a Facebook app thisisyourdigitallife designed by an intermediary that posed psychological quizzes to users that chose to download it.

Facebook announced late on Friday evening (US East Coast time) that it had banned Cambridge Analytica from its platform. On Saturday, it became clear why. In the face of threats of litigation from Facebook, The Observer and The New York Times ran stories from a whistleblower detailing how the data was used.

This was followed by more revelations by Channel 4 News about Cambridge Analytica’s conduct, based on undercover filming.

The UK Information Commissioner has announced it is to seek a warrant to access Cambridge Analytica’s servers.

As ever, it’s Facebook handling of the dispute that has drawn the most ire. Notably the lack of public comment from senior Facebook executives Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. The New York Times reports that a senior executive, chief information security officer, Alex Stamos, is to leave the company over internal disagreements over how it should respond to its role in spreading disinformation.

Credit should go to The Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr for her dogged pursuit of this story for over a year. Over this time responses have ranged from “Move along. Nothing to see here.” to very personal abuse.

There are some parallels with work of Nick Davies at The Guardian in investigating phone hacking at the News Of The World. Robust denials, a woeful corporate response, and The Guardian having to give its own material to rival news outlets in order for the story to gain traction.

This story clearly has a long way to go. Whilst it perhaps premature to say this is the death-knell for the platform, it has proved that Facebook is certainly not invincible. And whatever the final outcome, it is clear that the days of Facebook, Google et al all having the commercial benefits of a mass media platform, with none of the legal and moral responsibilities that come with it, are over.

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Monday Briefing – 19 March 2018

Welcome to our weekly Monday Briefing on the main developments in air travel in London and around the world, as published every Monday morning at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

Qantas Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 19 March 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look the week ahead.

Summer Schedule Changes

This coming Sunday, 25 March 2018, marks the beginning of the summer travel season (though the weather clearly thinks otherwise!).

The big headline is of course the launch of the first non-stop scheduled passenger service between London and Australia.

At 05:10 on Sunday 25 March, if all goes to plan, flight QF9 will arrive at London Heathrow Terminal 3 having completed a 17 hour and 20 minute journey from Perth. After eight hours rest, the aircraft will make its way back to Australia for a 16 hour and 45 minute flight back to Perth.

Qantas has made on secret of the fact it wants to launch more non-stop services to Australia and is actively inviting Airbus and Boeing to generate aircraft capable of doing so. As well as the technical capability of aircraft, the future of non-stop services to Australia will fundamentally depend on whether passengers are willing to pay a premium for a non-stop service when there are countless one-stop options.

At the same time, Qantas will also replace London – Dubai – Sydney with London – Singapore – Sydney. Qantas will continue to codeshare with Emirates on flights to Australia via Dubai, but will cease flying its own aircraft via Dubai.
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10 Years of EU – US Open Skies

As the 10th anniversary of the EU-US Open Skies agreement approaches, we take a look back at how it has reshaped transatlantic travel.

London Air Travel

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)

Some ten years ago, air travel between London and the United States was governed by an archaic treaty known as Bermuda II.

Signed in 1977 as successor to an agreement signed after the Second World War, it placed restrictions on who could operate flights between the UK and the US, and from where.

Flghts from London Heathrow to the US were restricted to two US airlines. These were American Airlines and United Airlines, who had acquired traffic rights from Trans World Airlines and Pan American World Airways respectively. What were then Continental, Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines and US Airways were forced to fly from London Gatwick.

From the UK, only British Airways and, from 1991, Virgin Atlantic could fly to the US from London Heathrow. Not only that, certain routes could not operate from London Heathrow. So BA had to fly to Atlanta, Dallas Fort Worth and Houston from London Gatwick. bmi which, at the time, held approximately 15% of Heathrow’s slots sat in deep frustration at being unable to fulfil its ambitions to fly to the US from the airport.

Some 30 years later, with negotiations no longer between London and Washington, the EU negotiated an Open Skies agreement the US. It officially came into force on 30 March 2008. Heathrow was opened up to all US airlines. And EU airlines could fly to the US from any airport in the EU.

However, access of European airlines to the US market and US airline ownership rules were untouched. They were officially parked into Phase II and remain so today.

So what has been the impact of EU-US Open Skies?
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Virgin Atlantic reports a loss for 2017

As Virgin Atlantic reports a loss for 2017, we take a look at the competitive challenges facing the airline.

London Air Travel

Virgin Atlantic aircraft at London Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic has reported a financial loss for 2017.

Bloomberg reports that the airline lost £28.4m before exceptional items.

This compares to a profit of £23m for 2016. This is Virgin Atlantic’s first loss after three consecutive years of profit. Passenger numbers fell by 100,000 to 5.3m.

Virgin has cited numerous causes for its loss

These are: The fall in the value of the pound following the 2016 EU Referendum result; disruption to flights to Florida and The Caribbean due to Hurricane Irma; and engine maintenance to its Boeing 787-9 fleet which has necessitated leasing in aircraft from other airlines.

These are made with some justification. Virgin is a “dollar short” company. It has more expenses than revenue in dollars which means it is exposed to a fall in the pound. One reason why BA’s parent IAG bought Aer Lingus is because it is a “dollar long” company.

Virgin is also not alone in reporting financial loss. Norwegian reported a loss in 2017. Cathay Pacific has also reported a second consecutive annual loss.
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SWISS to introduce Buy On Board catering on London – Geneva flights

London Air Travel

SWISS Bombardier CS300 (Image Credit: SWISS)
SWISS Bombardier CS300 (Image Credit: SWISS)

Ever since British Airways introduced Buy On Board catering on its short-haul economy cabins at Gatwick and Heathrow in 2017, its CEO Alex Cruz has been adamant that it was only a matter of time before its major European network rivals followed suit.

To date, neither Lufthansa, nor Air France and KLM have done so. They have instead preferred to grow low cost brands such as Eurowings and Joon. In London, Eurowings has long taken over all Lufthansa flights to Germany, outside of its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.

However SWISS, a subsidiary of Lufthansa Group, has now made the first move. It is to introduce Buy-On-Board catering, branded as Swiss Saveurs, in economy on all flights to and from Geneva, excluding Zurich and New York from Spring 2018. The exact launch date has not been specified. The menus are being developed by the Swiss retailer Globus.
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BA’s new Club World catering & bedding reviewed

A review of BA’s new Club World catering & bedding on London Heathrow – Philadelphia.

London Air Travel

BA Club World Catering London Heathrow - Philadelphia
BA Club World Catering London Heathrow – Philadelphia (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Is there a better way to fly across the Atlantic Ocean from London Heathrow than seated on the upper deck of a BA 747?

It may not be the most modern aircraft jostling for position on the taxiways at Heathrow before take-off. However, the 20 seat cabin has long been sought after for its private jet like experience where passengers sit oblivious to whatever is happening down below.

A flight from London Heathrow to Philadelphia, which is the subject of this review, marked a return to the upper deck after many flights with its younger upstarts the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380.

And what better way to sample BA’s new Club World service for the first time.

It made its debut on London Heathrow – New JFK in September 2017. Only very recently has it been extended to more routes, so London Heathrow to Philadelphia was the author’s first opportunity to try the new service.

Would it live up to the hype? Would BA be able to resist the temptation to pare back the service after launch? What about reports of the meal service taking 3 hours?
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