British Airways continues to battle to regain lost market share in the European short-haul market from easyJet.
The airline has today, 5 March 2014, announced a new fare enabling passengers to do “out and back in a day” trips to a number of short-haul destinations in the UK and mainland Europe on Saturdays and Sundays.
The lead-in return fares are £79 to Dublin and Geneva, £89 for Edinburgh and Rome and £99 for Vienna and Munich. These fares are available for booking now and we note that relatively short notice weekend fares for these destinations are significantly cheaper than others.
BA claim that these fares may be extended to other short-haul destinations in due course. We infer these fares are something of an experiment to help fill otherwise relatively quiet early morning and late night flights on weekends.
That said, this is a welcome innovation and certainly something we can see ourselves taking advantage of.
If the experience of “Hand Baggage Only” fares is anything to by, it should be extended across the network very quickly.
If you’ve flown through London Heathrow recently you couldn’t have failed to notice the progress in the building of Terminal 2, “The Queen’s Terminal”, which opens in three months from today, on 4 June 2014.
It will house all Star Alliance member airlines at London Heathrow who are currently split across Terminals 1, 3 and 4. These include United Airlines, Air Canada, Singapore Airlines, SAS, Swiss and Air New Zealand.
The terminal will also house non-alliance members Germanwings (a subsidiary of Lufthansa) and Aer Lingus, as well as Virgin Atlantic’s domestic “Little Red” flights to Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
Today, 3 March 2014, at 12:35, a Boeing 787 operating as British Airways flight BA191 will depart from London Heathrow Terminal 5. 10 hours and 25 minutes later it should land at Bergstrom International airport in Austin, Texas, completing the inaugural flight from London Heathrow to Austin.
Initially the service will operate five times a week, increasing to daily from 5 May 2014.
This is the first new transatlantic route launched by BA since Las Vegas in 2009 and San Diego in 2011.
It is noteworthy as this is the first route launched specifically for the Boeing 787 which has, to date, been used to either replace Boeing 767s on transatlantic flights or Boeing 777s on “thinner” Asia routes.
Although much has been made by BA and its parent company International Airlines Group that the Boeing 787 will aid the launch of new routes between London and Asia, we expect further transatlantic routes to by opened up by the 787, particularly because of the support provided by BA’s transatlantic joint-venture partner, American Airlines.
Not only do more routes give BA network strength against Delta and Virgin Atlantic, but also the Middle Eastern carriers who have only begun to scratch the surface of the North America market.
Qantas has just published its half year results. In the past week there has been a frenzy of speculation in the Australian media following prior warnings from Qantas that it would incur heavy losses resulting in a significant restructuring of the airline and possibly drastic changes to its route network.
The losses themselves are as feared with Qantas reporting a loss before tax of AUD$252 million. Qantas has announced significant job cuts and disposals of aircraft and deferrals of aircraft deliveries.
There has been much speculation about the future of Qantas daily Airbus A380 services from London Heathrow to Sydney and Melbourne, following anecdotal reports of weak demand on the London Heathrow – Dubai sectors of the London – Melbourne routes.
Qantas has today confirmed that the two daily London Heathrow services will remain. However, the London – Melbourne route (currently a late night departure from London and early morning arrival, resulting in significant downtime of nearly 17 hours for the aircraft) will be retimed from November 2014.
We do not yet know what the new times are. One possible option is to retime the departure to late morning, as Qantas used to have to Sydney and Melbourne when it had four daily services from London Heathrow.
Over the past few years there has been something of an industry in the development of in-flight safety demonstrations that seem designed just as much for sharing on social media as they are for advising passengers of aircraft safety procedures.
The leader in this field has been Air New Zealand and the latest contribution to this genre comes from Virgin Atlantic. Here is its new safety demonstration which will be featured on aircraft from 1 March 2014.
We have to admit to being a little surprised by Qatar Airways’ plans to launch an all business class flight from London Heathrow to Doha, from 15 May 2014. This will complement the airline’s five daily services between the two cities.
That one of the “Middle East Three” carriers is adding capacity to London Heathrow is not unexpected. It’s one of the largest business and premium travel markets in the world and the Middle East carriers have generally been able to pursue an unfettered expansion in the UK, unlike, say, Germany.
Nor it is unusual for an airline to launch a scheduled business class only service. BA has its own all business service from London City to New York JFK, for example.
However, given how sought after Heathrow slot pairs are for relatively small new entrants, it is little unusual to see a valuable slot pair used for a 40 seat all business class service.
We can only deduce that, aircraft availability issues aside, Qatar wishes to pursue high margin business travellers over the volume that a larger aircraft could provide.
Flight QR16 will depart London Heathrow at 9.55pm and arrives into Doha at 6.40am (well suited for business travellers flying only to Doha).
Flight QR15 will depart Doha at 2.50pm and arrives into London Heathrow at 8.25pm (not quite so well suited for point to point business travellers).
This service will no doubt be attractive to those able to take advantage of it. For completeness, it’s also worth adding that as Qatar Airways is a member of the Oneworld alliance, members of Oneworld frequent flyer programmes will be able to earn and redeem their respective frequent flyer miles on this flight.
British Airways has today confirmed that Singapore will be the fifth destination to be served by the airline’s Airbus A380 fleet of aircraft.
The airline is currently operating the A380 on selected flights to Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Johannesburg. Washington will be added to the A380 network from September of this year.
The Airbus A380 will replace a Boeing 747 on three flights a week between London Heathrow and Singapore from Thursday 28 October 2014.
BA will continue to serve Singapore twice daily, with the second Boeing 777-300 continuing on to Sydney from Singapore.
It’s worth noting that BA has departed from its strategy of deploying the A380 on routes that are not currently served by the A380 from London Heathrow as the London Singapore route has long been served by Singapore Airlines’ A380.
BA has a total of 12 Airbus A380s on order, of which four have now been delivered to the airline. BA also has options for a further 7 aircraft (instincts tell us BA will probably maintain its order at 12 aircraft).
BA has released a promotional video for the A380 launch to Singapore on YouTube featuring a very excited Sex and the City star Kristin Davis:
Update January 2018:
BA now flies the Airbus A380 on one of its two daily flights between London Heathrow and Singapore (BA11 / BA12). The remaining flight (BA15 / BA16) which continues from Singapore to Sydney is operated with a Boeing 777-300 aircraft.