KLM Cockpit Tales

KLM have released a short series of “Cockpit Tales” videos showing the work its pilots undertake on a day to day basis to ensure flights operate safely and according to plan.

Filmed using “fixed rig” cameras in the cockpit of KLM aircraft, the first video “Autopilot in Action” shows Captain van Dorst planning a flight from Amsterdam to London Heathrow, how the flight is programmed using flight management software and the use of autopilot, and communications with Air Traffic Control from takeoff through to landing.

In the second video, “Highways In The Sky”, Captain de Vries on a flight from Amsterdam to New York JFK airport shows how the airline plans a flight across the atlantic ocean, where for a large part of the journey the crew and aircraft will have no radar communication with Air Traffic Control.

Finally in “Big plane, short runway”, at just 2,300 metres, Princess Juliana International Airport on the island of Saint Martin has one of the most challenging runways in the world. Captain ten Velde shows how KLM ensures it lands a Boeing 747 jumbo safely on the island.

We like these videos. There’s a huge amount that gets taken for granted in aviation and anything that increases understanding of aviation should be welcomed.

Autopilot In Action

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IAG outlines plans for Aer Lingus to assuage Government concerns

London Air Travel

Since Aer Lingus formally recommended a takeover bid from International Airlines Group (“IAG”) there has been a growing political storm in Ireland amid doubts as to what IAG’s ultimate intentions are for Aer Lingus, specifically with regard to links between the Republic Of Ireland and London Heathrow.

IAG has sought to assuage these concerns by today releasing a statement providing assurances as to connectivity between London Heathrow and Ireland.

Here’s a précis of these assurances.
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Singapore Airlines to introduce premium economy at Heathrow from August 2015

London Air Travel

Although both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have operated premium economy cabins on long-haul aircraft for over 15 years, carriers outside the UK have been slow to follow suit.

Lufthansa and Cathay Pacific have recently joined the relatively small number of airlines such as Qantas, Air New Zealand, Japan Airlines and ANA to offer premium economy.

The principal reason for this is a concern that some passengers (or rather, their cost conscious employers) may choose to downgrade from business class, whereas airlines want passengers to upgrade from economy class.

The latest airline to introduce premium economy is Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Airlines will introduce a premium economy cabin on its Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300 aircraft, both of which are operated on the London – Singapore route.

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Thai Airways’ Airbus A380 comes to Heathrow from 1 July 2015

Thai Airways’ Airbus A380 aircraft is coming to London Heathrow from 1 July 2015

The airline will fly the Airbus A380 between London Heathrow and Bangkok daily.
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Qatar Airways acquires a 9.99% stake in IAG

London Air Travel

International Airlines Group - Aer Lingus, BA, Iberia, Vueling
International Airlines Group – Aer Lingus, BA, Iberia, Vueling

Interesting news breaking this morning, and proof that aviation is never dull.

International Airlines Group has confirmed in announcement to the stock exchange that Qatar Airways has acquired a 9.99% stake in International Airlines Group.

The news has been welcomed enthusiastically by IAG CEO Willie Walsh, citing the fact that Qatar Airways has recently joined the Oneworld alliance and British Airways has recently started co-operating with BA on areas such as codesharing on Qatar routes from Doha to Asia.

Willie Walsh also cites the opportunity for further commercial co-operation between Qatar Airways and IAG mber airlines.

There is certainly scope for greater collaboration. For example, BA still serves Doha via a stop in Bahrain and the two airlines could explore a revenue sharing joint-venture on routes to and beyond Doha, as BA has with other Oneworld alliance partners such as American Airlines and Japan Airlines.

At the moment there are no changes to the board structure of IAG. Should Qatar Airways wish to increase its stake in IAG, under EU ownership rules, it would be capped at 49%.

Qatar Airways is not the first Middle Eastern airline to invest in European aviation as Etihad Airways has taken equity stakes in a portfolio of airlines such as Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Alitalia and Air Serbia. Etihad also has a codeshare relationship with Air France KLM. Emirates has so far eschewed taking equity stakes in other airlines.

Finally, it is also noteworthy that Qatar Airways has invested in IAG at a time when it’s share price is at an all time high, above 550p. IAG’s share price has previously hit lows of around 110p.

Iberia Express launches London Heathrow – Tenerife & Gran Canaria

London Air Travel

Iberia Express Airbus A320 (Image Credit: Iberia Express)
Iberia Express Airbus A320 (Image Credit: Iberia Express)

Iberia’s low cost sister airline, Iberia Express, will launch London Heathrow – Tenerife and London Heathrow – Gran Canaria flights from late March 2015.

Flights to Tenerife operate three times weekly on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Flights to Gran Canaria operate four times weekly on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Flights depart from London Heathrow Terminal 5.

Here’s the timetable:

London Heathrow – Tenerife

Flight IB3603 Depart London Heathrow 17:05 – Arrive Tenerife 21:30
Flight IB3602 Depart Tenerife 11:20 – Arrive London Heathrow 15:45

London Heathrow – Gran Canaria

Flight IB3605 Depart London Heathrow 17:05 – Arrive Gran Canaria 21:30
Flight IB3604 Depart Gran Canaria 11:20 – Arrive London Heathrow 15:45

Flights are now on sale on Iberia.com

Iberia’s International Airlines Group sibling British Airways also flies from London Heathrow to Gran Canaria on a Saturday until the end of March. BA also flies to Tenerife from London Gatwick.

BA flights on these routes tend to be scheduled as morning departures from London, with the return flight departing late afternoon. In part, this to allow the aircraft and crew to do a round-trip in one day. Iberia’s timings work the opposite way and may be more convenient for some.

We have commented recently on IAG’s turnaround of Iberia and an increased presence in the UK is to be expected.

Update: Iberia has subsequently suspended these flights. However, BA continues to operate a year round once weekly service from London Heathrow to Gran Canaria and Tenerife South on Saturday.

BA Executive Club announces changes to earning and redeeming Avios

London Air Travel

British Airways Executive Club Cards
British Airways Executive Club Cards

British Airways has today, 28 January 2015, announced major changes to the way members of the British Airways Executive Club can earn and redeem Avios on BA and partner airline flights.

BA’s International Airlines Group sibling Iberia has also announced changes to its Iberia Plus programme that take effect from 1 March 2015.

The changes are quite significant and will impact on members depending what level they are in the Executive Club, what cabins they fly on BA and, for the first time, what type of ticket is purchased.

There are some definite negatives and some positives may emerge in time. It is also important to emphasise that they only apply to bookings made after 28 April 2015, so there is a three month window to make bookings in advance of the changes.

Here’s a summary of the key changes and our take on them:
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Cathay Pacific launches new brand campaign #lifewelltravelled

London Air Travel

Cathay Pacific Brushwing Sign
Cathay Pacific Brushwing Sign (Image Credit: Cathay Pacific)

Cathay Pacific has launched its first over-arching brand campaign since the airline undertook a very subtle rebranding exercise last year.

The campaign emphasises how Cathay Pacific’s Asian hospitality and attention to detail improves the travel experience for passengers, whether the frequent business traveller or occasional passenger, and makes “Life Well Travelled”.

In keeping with its stated brand philosophy “Softly spoken. Strongly felt.”, Cathay Pacific’s passengers take centre stage in the campaign.

It is supported by a dedicated Cathay Pacific microsite which features contributions from the airline’s staff and frequent travellers. The campaign also features regular postings on Cathay Pacific’s Instagram account.
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Iberia returns to Havana & launches Medellin & Cali in Colombia

London Air Travel

Iberia (Image Credit: Iberia)

Some positive signs of a real turnaround and expansion at Iberia.

The airline is to reinstate flights between Madrid and Havana in Cuba from 1 June 2015. Flights will operate five weekly, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sundays.

Iberia will also add Cali and Medellin in Colombia to its route network from 3 July 2015.

This will operate as a “triangular” route, whereby Iberia will fly Madrid – Medellin, Medellin – Cali, and Cali -Madrid. Flights operate three times weekly on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

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IAG makes a further takeover bid for Aer Lingus

London Air Travel

Aer Lingus Airbus A320
Aer Lingus Airbus A320 (By BriYYZ via Wikimedia Commons)

After much press speculation over the past few weeks, International Airlines Group (parent company of British Airways, Iberia and Vueling) has submitted a further takeover bid for Aer Lingus.

Aer Lingus has formally acknowledged the bid, valued at €2.50 a share with a cash dividend of €0.05 per share.

Aer Lingus say the bid remains conditional on, amongst other things, confirmatory due diligence, the recommendation of the Board of Aer Lingus and the receipt of irrevocable commitments from Ryanair and the Minister for Finance of Ireland to accept the offer.

The key stumbling block to IAG acquiring Aer Lingus will be the Irish Government which holds a 25.1% stake in the airline. The Irish Government will need to be satisfied that links between London Heathrow and Ireland will be maintained and Aer Lingus will not loose its Heathrow slot-holdings.

Here are some thoughts we gathered before Christmas on what may happen of IAG is successful in acquiring Aer Lingus.

Update: Ireland’s RTE is reporting that Aer Lingus may make a statement on Tuesday about the bid.

Update:

Aer Lingus has issued a statement on Tuesday recommending the bid. International Airlines Group has also statement confirming that if the acquisition goes ahead Aer Lingus will maintain its own brand and join the Oneworld alliance and transatlantic joint-venture with BA and American Airlines. IAG will also seek to assuage concerns about the maintenance of links between London Heathrow and Cork and Shannon by entering into discussions with the Irish Government.