BA Executive Club announces changes to earning and redeeming Avios

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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

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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

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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

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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.

BA to move to Gatwick South terminal in November 2016

London Air Travel » Page 73

London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)
London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)

British Airways today, 19 January 2015, confirmed that is to move its entire London Gatwick operation from the North terminal to the South terminal at an as yet unspecified date in November 2016.

The purpose of the move is to allow easyJet to consolidate its London Gatwick operation in the North terminal.

Gatwick Airport has confirmed details of the move.

BA will benefit from an upgraded check-in area and a new lounge facility for eligible passengers. BA has confirmed that a new lounge for eligible customers will be constructed in the North terminal.

As BA’s London Gatwick operation involves approximately 60 departures a day, we expect the move will take place in phases.

Perhaps what is more significant are easyJet’s ambitions once it consolidates operations in one terminal.

easyJet currently has 45% of departure and arrival slots at Gatwick, compared to just 16% for BA. Ten years ago, BA had 30% of departure and arrival slots, and easyJet had 13%.

easyJet has made a number of moves in recent years to move it closer to the traditional full service carrier model, such as offering allocated seating and fast track ground facilities.

The one thing easyJet doesn’t do is interline with other airlines (this is where an airline will transfer your bag to another airline’s flight on a connecting ticket). Nor does it codeshare with other airlines. Nor does it offer connections.

Currently, a passenger wishing to fly from say, Edinburgh to Tel Aviv via Gatwick would have to “self-connect” and buy two separate tickets (and hope for the best if things go wrong!).

If easyJet was to move to a traditional “hub” model offering connections and codeshares with other airlines, this could radically change its position in the market and that of London Gatwick. There is certainly precedent for a low cost carrier to do this, as Vueling does at its hub in Barcelona.

This would of course add cost and complexity to easyJet’s operation (which it may be keen to avoid) but connecting traffic could support many more routes from Gatwick.

One other point of note is that Aer Lingus, currently a takeover target for BA’s parent company International Airlines Group, also operates in the South terminal and a consolidation of operations may allow for greater co-operation between BA and Aer Lingus at Gatwick.

Norwegian launches Gatwick – Kefalonia from 18 April 2015

London Air Travel » Page 73

London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)
London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)

Norwegian Air Shuttle has announced a new short-haul route from London Gatwick. It will fly to the Greek island of Kefalonia from Saturday 18 April 2015.

The new route operates once a week, on Saturdays.

Here are the flight times:

Flight DY2910 Depart London Gatwick 10:15 – Arrive Kefalonia 15:30
Flight DY2911 Depart Kefalonia 16:10 Arrive London Gatwick 17:20

Flights are on sale now.

Take care when booking not to take a very indirect route via Oslo!

BA goes daily on Heathrow – Mexico City from 1 May 2015

London Air Travel » Page 73

British Airways Tailfin (Image Credit: Nick Morrish/British Airways)
British Airways Tailfin (Image Credit: Nick Morrish/British Airways)

After gradually increasing its weekly frequency on London Heathrow to Mexico City over the past few years, BA’s current five weekly Mexico service will become a daily service from 1 May 2015.

The timetable for the new daily service is:

Flight BA243 Depart London Heathrow 14:10 Arrive Mexico City 19:30
Flight BA242 Depart Mexico City 21:30 Arrive London Heathrow 13:55

BA currently flies to Mexico City five times a week, excluding Tuesdays and Saturdays. This increases to a six weekly service from April and a daily service from May.

We assume the increase in frequency is driven by a relaxation of the bilateral treaty between the UK and Mexico.

BA’s International Airlines Group sibling Iberia also flies to Mexico City via Madrid up to twice daily. Iberia also offers connections to a number of domestic destinations in Mexico with AeroMexico.

AeroMexico also fly three times weekly between London Heathrow and Mexico City. We have not seen any increase in frequency on their part, which may be due to lack of slots.

The extra BA flights are now on sale on ba.com.

Update: AeroMexico will increase its flights from London Heathrow to five weekly flights from 29 March 2015, flying from Heathrow on Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. At the same time, with the exception of Saturdays, its departure time change will change from a mid-afternoon flight (14:45) to a late evening flight (22:30p). Exact times may very slightly by day.

Cyprus Airways Collapse: BA & Aegean Airlines add Heathrow Larnaca fights

Following the collapse last week of Cyprus Airways, British Airways and Aegean Airlines have not wasted any time in adding additional flights between London Heathrow and Larnaca.

BA has added an additional six weekly flights to its existing daily London Heathrow – Larnaca flight from Sunday 29 March 2015.

Aegean Airlines is also launching a daily flight between London Heathrow and Larnaca, also from Sunday 29 March.

Aegean Airlines Schedule (from 29 March 2015)

Flight A3773 Depart London Heathrow 20:45 – Arrive Larnaca 03:15 (ouch!)
Flight A3772 Depart Larnaca 16:40 – Arrive London Heathrow 19:40

British Airways Schedule (from 29 March 2015)

Flight BA664 Depart London Heathrow 07:10 – Arrive Larnaca 14:00 (excluding Saturdays, arrives 13:55 on Wednesday)
Flight BA662 Depart London Heathrow 11:45 – Arrive Larnaca 18:15

Flight BA665 Depart Larnaca 14:50 – Arrive London Heathrow 17:25 (excluding Saturdays)
Flight BA663 Depart Larnaca 19:25 – Arrive London Heathrow 22:10

Flights are on sale now on ba.com and Aegeanair.com respectively.

(H/T to airlineroute.net)

Which BA routes operate from London Heathrow with First Class?

Here’s a full list of long-haul BA routes from London Heathrow that operate with a first class cabin.

London Air Travel » Page 73

British Airways, First Class, Airbus, A380
British Airways First Class, Airbus A380 (Source: BA Press Office)

We receive a lot of search enquiries regarding which British Airways routes operate with or without a first class cabin.

Whilst BA’s first class product is far from a market leading product in the air or on the ground, the network it covers is very broad.

It’s also a popular choice for members of the BA Executive Club to use their Avios and holders of BA branded American Express credit cards to use 2-4-1 flight vouchers. Many Silver & Gold members of the Executive Club can also find themselves upgraded from Club World on oversold flights.

The general trend in recent years has been for first class to be removed from routes. However, it has in recent times been restored to routes such as Denver and San Diego.

So we thought it would be helpful to compile a list of BA first class destinations. We have also compiled a separate list for London Gatwick.

Continue reading “Which BA routes operate from London Heathrow with First Class?”