BA to suspend London Heathrow – Almaty (Kazakhstan) from 11 October 2015

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British Airways Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has announced it is to suspend its thrice weekly flight from London Heathrow to Almaty in Kazakhstan from Sunday 11 October 2015.

The last flight (BA159) will depart from London Heathrow to Almaty on Sunday 11 October 2015. The last flight from Almaty to London Heathrow (BA158) will depart on Monday 12 October 2015.

This means London will lose a direct link to Kazakhstan.

The airline has cited commercial reasons for the suspension of the route. This route was inherited from the merger of bmi into British Airways in 2012. It joins a long list of former bmi Heathrow routes suspended by BA (Damascus, Addis Ababa, Dammam, Bishkek, Khartoum, Tehran, Yerevan, Amristar, Casablanca, Marrakech and Tbilisi).

Currently, affected passengers have the option of a full refund or taking an earlier flight whilst the route is still operational.

BA do say they are looking at re-accommodation options on other airlines. It normally takes at least a couple of weeks for these to be announced and we would advise waiting before taking any action.

Passengers looking at alternative options have the option of Lufthansa (via Frankfurt) and Turkish Airlines (via Istanbul). There are other options with lesser known airlines and hubs.

Update 28 July: BA is now offering affected passengers the option of a re-route on Etihad Airways via Abu Dhabi up to 15 July 2016. Passengers should contact either their travel agent or BA directly to change their tickets.

BA to suspend London Heathrow – Entebbe (Uganda) from 2 October 2015

London Air Travel » Page 66

British Airways Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has announced it is to suspend its four times weekly flight from London Heathrow to Entebbe in Uganda from 2 October 2015.

The last flight (BA63) will depart from London Heathrow to Entebbe on 2 October 2015. The last flight from Entebbe to London Heathrow (BA62) will depart on 3 October 2015.

This means that London Heathrow will not have a direct link to Entebbe after the route has been suspended.

The airline has cited commercial reasons for the suspension of the route. It is likely that competitive pressure from Middle Eastern carriers are a factor. BA suspended Lusaka in 2013 and Dar es Salaam in 2012.

Currently, affected passengers have the option of a full refund, taking an earlier flight whilst the route is still operational, or taking an alternative BA flight to Nairobi (BA will not meet any onward travel expenses).

BA do say they are looking at re-accommodation options on other airlines. It normally takes at least a couple of weeks for these to be announced and we would advise waiting before taking any action.

Full rebooking options are detailed on BA’s trade website.

For passengers looking at alternative routes, options include KLM (via Amsterdam), Brussels Airlines (via Brussels), Emirates (via Dubai), Qatar Airways (via Doha), Etihad (via Abu Dhabi), Turkish Airlines (via Istabul).

Update 28 July: BA is now offering affected passengers the option of a re-route on either Etihad Airways via Abu Dhabi or Brussels Airlines via Brussels up to 15 July 2016. Passengers should contact either their travel agent or BA directly to change their tickets.

The European Commission approves IAG’s takeover of Aer Lingus

London Air Travel » Page 66

Aer Lingus London Heathrow
Aer Lingus London Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

International Airlines Group’s takeover of Aer Lingus moved another step closer today, 14 July 2015, after the European Commission gave formal approval of the deal.

It is subject to some conditions, known as “commitments” in order to assuage competition concerns of the European Commission.

These are:

1. IAG must forfeit up to five slot pairs at London Gatwick airport for use on routes between London and Dublin and London and Belfast.  One slot pair must be used for London – Belfast, two slot pairs must be used for London – Dublin and the remaining two can be used for either route.

2. IAG must offer rival airlines special prorate deals for passengers connecting from Aer Lingus short-haul flights to long-haul flights operated by rival airlines at London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, Amsterdam, Shannon and Dublin airports.  This is so rival airlines such as KLM and Virgin Atlantic can still offer passengers connections from Aer Lingus short-haul flights.
Continue reading “The European Commission approves IAG’s takeover of Aer Lingus”

BA to fly the Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner to Dehli from October 2015

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Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (Image Credit: British Airways)
Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has today confirmed the first route to be operated by the Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner.

The aircraft will operate on selected flights from London Heathrow to Dehli (Indira Gandhi International Airport) from Sunday 25 October 2015.

One noteworthy aspect is that First cabin on this aircraft has just eight seats, compared to the usual 14 seats on most other aircraft.  The exact design of the cabin is yet to be revealed. However, BA claim the First cabin features extra storage space and a single dial to control seat recline, headrest, lumbar adjustment and lighting. It also features a larger TV screen and a new touchscreen handset.  That said, the seat plan for the cabin shows two rows of seats in a 1-2-1 configuration so we do not expect any radical changes.

The Club World business class, World Traveller premium economy and World Traveller economy cabins are expected to be the same as the Boeing 787-8 aircraft that are currently in operation.

The aircraft will have 216 seats in total with 42 Club World business class seats in a 2-3-2 configuration, 39 World Traveller plus premium economy seats in a 2-3-2 configuration and 127 World Traveller economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration.

The Club World cabin is split between two parts of the aircraft with just two rows of seats in a demi-cabin behind First class (a further four rows are behind the galley) and we suspect this will prove quite popular.

There are a lot of anecdotal comments about the relatively poor comfort of the Boeing 787-8 cabin on BA so it will be interesting to see if any improvements are to be made.

The flights will operate five times a week on the BA257 from London Heathrow to Delhi on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays and the BA256 from Delhi to London Heathrow on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.  This replaces a Boeing 777 on this rotation.  The other daily flight to Dehli (BA143 & BA142) will continue to be operated by a Boeing 747.

Further route announcements for the Boeing 787-900 are expected in due course.  Future routes are expected to include Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Kuala Lumpur.

IAG’s bid for Aer Lingus looks certain to go ahead. What do we know now?

London Air Travel » Page 66

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

Following the news that the Irish Government has given its support for International Airlines Group’s bid for Aer Lingus and that Ryanair (which holds 30% of the shares in the airline) has also agreed to sell its stake, this means that, barring any last minute complications, it is now a near certainty that the bid will go ahead.

Full details of the bid can be viewed in the offer document. A more easily digestable summary of IAG’s bid for Aer Lingus can be viewed in this IAG presentation.

Here’s a summary of what we know (and don’t know) and what we expect to happen when Aer Lingus joins IAG:
Continue reading “IAG’s bid for Aer Lingus looks certain to go ahead. What do we know now?”

Changes to BA routes to Bodrum, Dubrovnik, Gothenburg & Nice

London Air Travel » Page 66

BA Airbus A319 aircraft at London Heathrow (Image Credit: British Airways)
BA Airbus A319 aircraft at London Heathrow (Image Credit: British Airways)

BA has recently announced a number of schedule changes to some of its short-haul routes from London Heathrow and Gatwick:

London Heathrow – Gothenburg

From 25 October 2015, BA will add a year round third daily flight on this route which will operate at the following times until 27 March 2016:

Flight BA802 Depart London Heathrow 19:15 – Arrive Gothenburg 22:15
Flight BA803 Depart Gothenburg 08:00 – Arrive London Heathrow 09:15

This is what’s known as a “night stop” which means it is timed for an early morning departure from Gothenburg.

London Gatwick – Bodrum

This twice weekly, summer seasonal, route to Bodrum in Turkey will now end on Monday 19 October 2015, instead of Monday 2 November 2015, as was planned.

This means that flights BA2566 and BA2567 are cancelled on 22, 26, 29 October and 2 November. Alternative flights to Dalaman and Istanbul, with no onward connections, are available for affected passengers.

London Gatwick – Dubrovnik

The Monday departure from London Gatwick to Dubrovnik in Croatia will be cancelled from 26 October 2015 (flights BA2678 and BA2679).

BA will continue operate the route on other days. However, the Friday departure will also be cancelled between 8 January 2016 and 5 February 2016.

London Gatwick – Nice

BA will reduce its frequency on this route from 14 to 12 flights a week from 22 November 2015. Flights BA2622 and BA2623 will be cancelled on Wednesdays and Sundays.

It is likely that there will be further schedule and route announcements over the next couple of months in advance of the launch of the Winter timetable on 25 October 2015.

Norwegian to launch London Gatwick – Boston from May 2016

London Air Travel » Page 66

Norwegian Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Norwegian Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Norwegian has today announced it is to launch a new route from London Gatwick to Boston from May 2016.

The exact launch date and timetable are to be confirmed, but flights will operate four times weekly.

This is the fourth North American route for Norwegian from London Gatwick after New York, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale.

The airline will also fly to Puerto Rico from November 2015.

This news will be welcomed by London Gatwick as it is the first time in many years Boston has been served by the airport.

Flights will be on sale at Norwegian.

Norwegian has stated in the Financial Times that it has ambitions to serve many more long haul destinations from the UK beyond the Americas and to Africa and Asia.

UK Government explores lower rates of Air Passenger Duty for English regional airports

Amongst the many announcements by the Chancellor George Osborne in today’s summer budget, the Government has announced a consulation whereby regional airports in England may be able to offer differing rates of Air Passenger Duty.

This follows the earlier devolution of Air Passenger Duty to national governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and concerns that regional airports may be at a competitive disadvantage.

This may be achieved through either devolving the power to set rates of Air Passenger Duty to local authorities or for differing rates of duty to be set by Central Government. An alternative option proposed is to provide aid to regional airports.

Whilst any reduction in Air Passenger Duty would be welcomed by the aviation industry we suspect that many airlines will argue that the measure is insufficient and that duty must be reduced further to enable the UK and, specifically London Heathrow, to compete against other aviation hubs in Europe and the Middle East.

Furthermore, whilst many regional English airports such as Manchester and Birmingham have been growing their international links, particularly to the Middle East, this is unlikely to result in a significant rebalancing of aviation capacity between London and the English regions.

That said, the measure may attract more long-haul airlines to English regional airports, particulary to operate “pop-up” routes during the peak summer season, such as Virgin Atlantic’s summer seasonal flights between Belfast and Orlando.

The full consultation can be viewed online. Any interested parties are required to respond by Tuesday 8 September 2015.

Virgin Atlantic cuts 500 jobs. But what happens next?

Virgin Atlantic has announced it is to cut 500 jobs. This follows the suspension of many long-haul routes and the closure of its “Little Red” short-haul operation at London Heathrow. What does mean for the airline, now 49% owned by Delta Air Lines?

London Air Travel » Page 66

Virgin Atlantic aircraft at London Heathrow

The big aviation story today has of course been the release of the Airports Commission report on the expansion of airport runway capacity in London and the South East.

A cynic might therefore wonder whether it was no coincidence that Virgin Atlantic chose to announce in the past 24 hours that it is to cut 500 jobs, all of which will be from back office roles.

A company choosing to make itself more efficient through reducing management and administrative posts isn’t in itself that noteworthy. Indeed, it’s been a fact of corporate life for many decades.

However, in the context of Virgin Atlantic a reduction of 500 posts is significant.
Continue reading “Virgin Atlantic cuts 500 jobs. But what happens next?”

Air Canada Rouge to launch London Gatwick – Toronto from 19 May 2016

Air Canada Rouge operates London Gatwick – Toronto on a summer seasonal basis.

London Air Travel » Page 66

Air Canada Rouge Boeing 767-300 aircraft
Air Canada Rouge Boeing 767-300 aircraft (Image Credit: Air Canada)

Air Canada Rouge, the leisure subsidiary airline of Air Canada, is to launch summer seasonal flights from London Gatwick to Toronto Pearson airport from 19 May 2016.

Flights will operate up to 7 times weekly.

Air Canada Rouge also flies between Toronto and Manchester and Edinburgh on a summer seasonal basis.  Air Canada’s domestic rival WestJet also announced this month that it is to fly between London Gatwick and as yet unspecified destinations in Canada in summer 2016.

Air Canada Rouge flights will be operated by a Boeing 767-300ER aircraft with 24 Premium rouge seats in a 2-2-2 configuration and 256 rouge seats in a 2-3-2 configuration.

Passengers travelling in the Premium rouge cabin have lounge access at the airport, a complimentary checked baggage allowance, complimentary food and drink and free use of a tablet for in flight entertainment.

Passengers travelling in the main rouge cabin have complimentary food and drink and can download an app to watch in flight entertainment on their smartphone or tablet. There is no seat back in flight entertainment.

We have no direct experience of Air Canada Rouge but we would offer the observation that 280 seats is a very dense seating configuration for a Boeing 767. By contrast, an Air Canada Boeing 767 with a traditional business class cabin has 211 seats. Such a dense configuration will have an impact on not only in seat comfort, but also at boarding, access to overhead locker space and washrooms etc.

Flights will be on sale at Fly Rouge from 2 July 2015.

Update: Here’s the timetable with convenient timings for the leisure traveller to maximise their holiday time.

Flight AC1925 Depart London Gatwick 12:00 – Arrive Toronto Pearson 15:00
Flight AC1924 Depart Toronto Pearson 22:10 – Arrive London Gatwick 10:15

Update (2): This route has been suspended from the 2018 summer season.