Norwegian Air Shuttle launches new route from London Gatwick to Las Vegas from Monday 31 October 2016

Norwegian Air Shuttle continues its rapid expansion at London Gatwick with the launch of new direct flights to Las Vegas.

The airline will fly to Las Vegas twice weekly (Monday & Thursday) from Monday 31 October 2016.

This will be Norwegian’s 8th long-haul route from London Gatwick after New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, Boston, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Puerto Rico.

Norwegian will be competing against direct flights by Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick and British Airways from London Heathrow.

On that note, the very rapid growth by Norwegian is not going unnoticed by either British Airways nor Virgin Atlantic.  We have already seen British Airways reinstate its London Gatwick – New York JFK route as an apparent competitive response.  We would not be surprised to see further activity by either airlines which both depend very heavily on transatlantic traffic for profitability.

Flights are on sale now at Norwegian.com and an initial scan of fares shows return trips being available for less than £399.

London Gatwick – Las Vegas

Flight DY7107 Depart London Gatwick 12:10 – Arrive Las Vegas 16:00 (Monday, Thursday)

Las Vegas – London Gatwick

Flight DY7108 Depart Las Vegas 18:00 – Arrive London Gatwick 10:50

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British Aurways launches new direct route from London Heathrow to Santiago, Chile from 3 January 2017

British Airways is to launch a new direct route from London Heathrow to Santiago, Chile from 3 January 2017.

The airline will fly to Santiago (Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport) four times a week from London Heathrow Terminal 5 using its Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner, offering four classes of travel (First Class, Club World business class, World Traveller Plus premium economy, and World Traveller economy).

This route will be the longest direct flight on BA’s network with a flight time of 14 hours and 40 minutes.

It will also be BA’s fifth direct destination in Latin America after Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Buenos Aires and Lima.

Santiago is a hub of BA’s Oneworld alliance partner LATAM.  The two airlines have recently applied to operate a joint-venture on flights between Europe and Latin America.  We expect that onward connections on LATAM flights from Santiago may become available in due course.

It will also be possible to “mix and match” direct flights between London Heathrow and Santiago and daily indirect flights via Madrid on Iberia which can be booked as a codeshare with BA.

Flights are on sale now at ba.com   BA has also produced a summary PDF document of the new route launch.

London Heathrow – Santiago Timetable

Flight BA251 Depart London Heathrow 22:00 – Arrive Santiago 09:40 (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday)

Flight BA250 Depart Santiago 18:45 – Arrive London Heathrow 12:05 (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday)

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British Airways to introduce non-stop flights from London Heathrow to Doha and Muscat from Sunday 30 October 2016

British Airways is to introduce direct non-stop flights from London Heathrow to Doha in Qatar and Muscat in Oman from Sunday 30 October 2016.

BA has long served both Doha and Muscat. However, a one hour stop-over in Bahrain for Doha and Abu Dhabi for Muscat has been required, adding approximately two hours each way to the journey time.

BA will now fly daily direct to Doha with a four class Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner. BA will fly five times a week to Muscat with a four class Boeing 777-200 aircraft. Flights are on sale now at ba.com.

Why has BA introduced this change? Well it now has more departure and arrival slots at London Heathrow. The flight times are more convenient for passengers. Airlines also prefer not to use long-haul aircraft for short flights for operational reasons.

The one significant change is that flights from London Heathrow to Doha will now arrive in Doha in the morning rather than late at night.

BA codeshares with Qatar Airways (a shareholder in BA’s parent company International Airlines Group) on a number of routes from Doha to Dar es Salaam, Peshawar, Karachi, Entebbe, Dhaka, Islamabad and Lahore. Passengers with existing bookings will need to review their itineraries to see if connections are valid or if accommodation is required in Doha.

It is also worth noting that BA does offer flights between Bahrain and Doha and between Abu Dhabi and Muscat for sale and these will clearly not be available from Sunday 30 October.

Flight schedules to Bahrain and Abu Dhabi have also been adjusted to account for the changes to these routes. All flights will also continue to operate from London Heathrow Terminal 5.
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British Airways to roll out in flight WiFi across its long-haul Boeing 747, 777, 787 and Airbus A380 fleet

British Airways has today announced that it is to install high speed in flight WiFi across its fleet of long-haul aircraft.

The system will be a satellite based GoGo 2ku WiFi network.

The installation will begin in early 2017.  BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group, has previously indicated that WiFi will be fitted to the majority of its long-haul fleet by 2019.

WiFi will be fitted on all Boeing 777, Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 aircraft.  18 of BA’s fleet of approximately 40 Boeing 747s will also be fitted with WiFi.

We surmise that these are the 18 aircraft which are mid-way through a refurbishment programme to upgrade aircraft interiors and in flight entertainment systems.  A Boeing 747 aircraft will also be the first to be fitted with the new WiFi system.

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Vueling’s Alex Cruz replaces Keith Williams as Chief Executive of British Airways

British Airways gains a new Chief Executive Officer this week as its current CEO Keith Williams, who has occupied the role since January 2011, has retired.

Keith will be replaced by Alex Cruz. Alex was previously CEO of Vueling, the Low Cost Carrier with its principal hub in Barcelona and smaller hubs around mainline Europe.

Alex’s appointment is an internal move as both British Airways and Vueling are (along with Aer Lingus and Iberia) part of International Airlines Group (“IAG”). The two airlines do co-operate with codeshares on each other’s short-haul flights.

What are we to make of this move and what does it mean for the future of BA?

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British Airways launches summer seasonal route from London City to Alicante

British Airways adds to its growing portfolio of summer seasonal routes with the launch of a new summer seasonal route from London City to Alicante.

The route will operate for some ten weeks from Monday 27 June 2016 to Monday 5 September 2016.

The route will be flown four times weekly on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesdays and Fridays. Flights will be operated using an Embraer E190 aircraft in a two class, Club Europe business and EuroTraveller economy configuration. Flights can also be “mixed and matched” with BA’s daily services to Alicante from London Gatwick.

Flights are on sale now at ba.com.
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Virgin Atlantic takes firsts steps to create a hub at Manchester with the launch of Boston & San Francisco in 2017

Virgin Atlantic has today announced that it is to launch new routes from Manchester to Boston & San Francisco from the weekend of 27 & 28 March 2017.

Boston will initially operate twice weekly (Wednesdays & Saturdays) and San Francisco will initially operate thrice weekly (Tuesdays, Fridays, & Sundays).

Flights will be operated by Virgin Atlantic’s fleet of Airbus A330 aircraft with Upper Class (business), premium economy and economy seating.

Virgin Atlantic has of course long had a presence in Manchester. It flies to Orlando, Barbados, Las Vegas, and Atlanta. The latter being the hub of its transatlantic partner and minority shareholder, Delta Airlines.

However, what is noteworthy about today’s announcement is that first these routes seemingly are geared to attracting business as well as leisure traffic.

Furthermore, Virgin will (for the first time we believe) offer a significant number of short-haul connections at Manchester with Flybe from a large number of airports in the UK and Europe such as Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Exeter, Southampton and Newquay.

As such, today’s announcement could presage the development of small, but growing, hub for Virgin Atlantic at Manchester.

It is also good to see Virgin Atlantic expanding after a period of contraction at London Heathrow with the closure of its “Little Red” domestic flights to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester, as well as the closure of a number of routes such as Cape Town, Mumbai, Tokyo and Vancouver.

It also points to a very growing and competitive transatlantic market in the UK. Indeed, Boston and San Francisco are two recently announced routes by Norwegian at London Gatwick.

In terms of competitive response from carriers in London, we don’t expect any immediate response from British Airways or its parent company IAG.

BA attracted considerable criticism many years ago for withdrawing its final non-London international route, Manchester – New York JFK. BA would no doubt point to its growing transatlantic network in London, its codeshare partner American Airlines flights from Manchester to New York JFK, Chicago and Philadelphia and its IAG sibling Aer Lingus flights to North America from Manchester via Dublin (with the benefit of pre-clearance). That said, we have no doubt today’s developments will be watched with interest.

Virgin’s flights from Manchester to Boston and San Francisco should be on sale shortly on the Virgin Atlantic website.

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