The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 19 September 2018

The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 BST, providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

London Air Travel

Miami International Airport
Miami International Airport (Copyright 2017 Miami-Dade Aviation Department)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 19 September 2018, our weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

Hurricane Florence

The US continues to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

The airport currently most affected is Jacksonville North Carolina which at the time of writing is without power.

American Airlines has restored operations at all but two airports. The airline expects to restore operations at Jacksonville today and Greenville North Carolina tomorrow, Thursday 20 September 2018.

Delta has almost restored operations to normal. A travel waiver remains in place for Jacksonville and Wilmington North Carolina.

United has resumed near normal operations. The one exception is Wilmington which is expected to resume operations on Thursday 20 September 2018.

New Rail Link from Las Vegas to Southern California

Brightline, which operates a privately owned railway in Florida, has acquired the rights to develop a new railway from Las Vegas to Southern California.

It has bought a company called XpressWest which has Government approved rights to develop a railway line between Las Vegas and Southern California.

The first phase will connect Las Vegas to Victorville with future plans to expand to Los Angeles. The 185 mile line will be constructed on land adjacent to Interstate 15. Construction is expected to begin next year and the line will open in 2022.

Brightline is acquiring 38 acres of land adjacent to the Las Vegas strip to construct the railway station and a new mixed use development. From a cursory scan of XpressWest’s history this project has been a long time in the making so it will be interesting to see how it can start construction so quickly.

Brightline currently operates between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with plans to expand to Orlando.

From European perspective where rail investments are Government funded and operations are subsidised, it is a mystery as to how a new railway line can be constructed and operated entirely with private funding. It seems that the associated property development opportunities that arise as a consequence play a signifiant part.

Given how public US infrastructure projects with even the most blindingly obvious business cases can be mired in toxic federal/state/city politics and be subject to intense corporate lobbying, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 19 September 2018”

BA relaunches Kos at Gatwick

British Airways will fly from London Gatwick to Kos three times weekly from 15 May to 26 October 2019.

London Air Travel

Kos, Greece
Kos, Greece (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways is to reinstate a summer seasonal route to Kos, Greece at London Gatwick.

BA previously flew to Kos on a summer seasonal basis at Heathrow. However, the route was suspended in 2017.

BA will fly to Kos three times weekly from Wednesday 15 May to Saturday 26 October 2019 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. As is par the course for BA at Gatwick, flight times vary widely by day.

Flights will be operated with a mixture of Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft in the standard two class, EuroTraveller and Club Europe, configuration.

This should just be the start of a number of summer seasonal route announcements both at Heathrow and Gatwick.

In terms of coverage of Greece, this summer BA has flown to Crete, Corfu, Kalamata, Kefalonia, Mykonos, Santorini and Zakynthos from Heathrow. It has also flown to Crete, Rhodes and Thessaloniki from Gatwick and Mykonos and Skiathos from London City.

Flights are available for booking now at ba.com.

Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 18 September 2018

Our weekly bulletin on the latest developments in media and technology around the world, as published every Tuesday morning at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel

Apple iOS12 (Image Credit: Apple)

Hello and welcome to our weekly travel media and technology bulletin featuring the latest developments on media and technology around the world, published every Tuesday at 06:00 BST.

Apple’s iOS12 available for download

The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS12, is now available for download.

New features include group notifications, more Do Not Disturb options, a new Shortcuts app where you automate series of actions suggested by Siri, and “Screen Time” reports. As always, it is advisable to download the new operating system to take advantage of the latest security features.

Initial impressions are that it does make your devices work faster and more responsive.

New Apple iPhones and Apple Watch Series 4

On a related note, as has been widely publicised, Apple announced three new iPhones last week and a new Apple Watch Series 4.

The specification of the new devices has been well documented. The new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are now available for pre-order from £999 and £1,099 respectively, more if you effectively take financing with a pay monthly contract. It has to be said that however technically impressive these products are, an equivalent amount of expenditure on professional photography equipment or a dedicated laptop would yield much more.

Continue reading “Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 18 September 2018”

Monday Briefing – 17 September 2018

Welcome to our weekly Monday Briefing on the main developments in air travel in London and around the world, as published every Monday morning at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel

CNN Hurricane Florence Typhoon Mangkhut Coverage
CNN Hurricane Florence Typhoon Mangkhut Coverage (Image Credit: CNN International)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 17 September 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week.

Hurricane Florence and Super Typhoon Mangkhut

Hurricane Florence and Super Typhoon Mangkhut have dominated the news over the weekend. Both have caused considerable disruption at a substantial human and environmental cost.

In terms of disruption to flights, Hurricane Florence has now been downgraded to a Tropical Depression. There is still disruption to some coastal airports in the Carolinas due to flooding and infrastructure damage. Transatlantic flights from London seem to have largely escaped disruption.

For US domestic flights, American Airlines has largely resumed operations at its hub in Charlotte. However, some cancellations remain. Delta and United have been progressively resuming flights throughout the region.

BA, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic resumed flights from London Heathrow to Hong Kong on Sunday after widespread cancellations on Saturday. Cathay Pacific is now progressively resuming flight operations at Hong Kong. However, there are widespread cancellations today.

BA Catering

BA and catering have long had a troubled relationship.

In December 1997, the airline outsourced its catering operation to Gate Gourmet. Matters flared up in a quite spectacular fashion in the summer of 2005 when an industrial dispute at the company resulted in no catering on BA flights at Heathrow. To make matters worse, some BA ground staff at London Heathrow took wildcat industrial action in support of the workers resulting in days of disruption in the height of summer at a cost to the airline of £40m and negative publicity worldwide.

Given how much the UK’s reputation for food has improved over the past 20 years, for an airline keen to emphasis its Britishness, it has been a source of mystery why BA hasn’t made this more of a point of differentiation.

One answer is that as the catering budget is one of the airline’s few controllable costs, it is an easy target for a repeated cycle of investment and cutbacks.

However, with new Club Europe catering being, by all accounts, well received and Do&Co securing a new contract for the entire Heathrow operation there does seem a genuine desire to improve matters.

If we had one criticism there is still a little too much emphasis on serving what people think Britons eat (eg Full English breakfasts, Afternoon Tea) instead of what Britons actually eat.

Given BA is due to refurbish its London Heathrow lounges in the coming years, a logical progression would be to review catering and service provision in the lounges.

BaxterStorey has been responsible for catering provision in BA’s UK lounges since May 2013. Unlike Qantas, for example, where Sofitel run its international lounges, BA not opted to appoint a premium hospitality brand to run the food and beverage service in its lounges. I would not be surprised to see this reviewed.
Continue reading “Monday Briefing – 17 September 2018”

American Airlines & BA launch the “Altitude Academy”

American Airlines and BA are offering the chance to win flights to the US at the “Altitude Academy” in Canary Wharf on Wednesday 19 – Thursday 20 September.

London Air Travel

American Airlines & British Airways Altitude Academy - London, September 2018
American Airlines & British Airways Altitude Academy – London, September 2018 (Image Credit: American Airlines/British Airways)

American Airlines and British Airways are launching, to use marketing speak, an “activation” in Canary Wharf over two days next week.

Called the “Altitude Academy”, the promotion is intended to showcase American Airlines and BA’s joint transatlantic network from London and the respective premium cabins and service of the two airlines.

Across four different zones, passengers will be able to discover their “frequent flyer style” and take part in games and challenges. Of greatest interest will be opportunities to win business class tickets to the United States. Complimentary catering will be supplied by Rhurbab who also cater for American Airlines’ lounges at London Heathrow.

American Airlines & British Airways Altitude Academy - London, September 2018
American Airlines & British Airways Altitude Academy – London, September 2018 (Image Credit: American Airlines/British Airways)

The Altitude Academy will be located in Jubilee Plaza, in front of Canary Wharf Tube station. It will be open from 11:00 to 19:00 on Wednesday 19 September and 07:00 to 19:00 Thursday 20 September 2018.

easyJet’s “Imagine Where We Can Take You” TV ad campaign

easyJet has launched a new Europe wide multimedia advertising campaign based around the thought “Imagine Where We Can Take You.”

London Air Travel

easyJet
easyJet “Imagine Where We Can Take You” TV advertising campaign September 2018 (Image Credit: VCCP for easyJet)

easyJet has launched a new Europe wide advertising campaign based around the thought “Imagine Where We Can Take You.”

In a TV advertisement we see a passenger gaze out of the window mid-flight. Through the mind of the passenger, the viewer is transported in a dream-like sequence to a range of ski, beach and city destinations, interwoven with easyJet’s signature colour orange.

It is noteworthy this ad does not mention price, traditionally easyJet’s main selling point. It focuses on the emotional appeal of the brand and the strapline “Generation easyJet”. This is a sign of much the easyJet brand has developed and matured in its near 25 year history.

It is also no accident that a close-up of a female pilot is featured as easyJet is actively campaigning to increase the number of female pilots.

The ad was made by the agency VCCP. It was directed by The Sacred Egg of Riff Raff Films. The soundtrack to the advert is Cat Power “Dreams”.

The ad launches on UK TV tonight, Friday 14 September 2018, during “Gogglebox” on Channel 4.

With Virgin Atlantic also launching a “Masterbrand” ad campaign this weekend, we can’t help but notice it is also exactly five years since BA ran a major brand led TV campaign with its “Today Tomorrow” TV ad. A new Masterbrand campaign from BA is long overdue.

Virgin Atlantic’s “Depart The Everyday” TV ad campaign

Virgin Atlantic & Virgin Holidays have launched two new ad campaigns based around the concepts of “Depart The Everyday” and “The World Is Your Playground”.

London Air Travel

Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic “Depart The Everyday” TV advertising campaign September 2018 (Image Credit: AMVBDDO for Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic has launched a new TV advertising campaign under the banner of “Depart The Everyday”.

Filmed in a mock-up Virgin Atlantic aircraft cabin, you see passengers depart a dreary and overcast UK and enter into a surrealist world in all three cabins at 38,000 feet.

The aircraft hold is a ball pool. Passengers dance on the ceiling. The air vents dispense rainbow ice cream. Of course, no Virgin Atlantic TV advertisement would be complete without a shot of its signature Upper Class bar and suite. It exudes Virgin Atlantic’s characteristic self-confidence.

Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic “Depart The Everyday” TV advertising campaign September 2018 (Image Credit: AMVBDDO for Virgin Atlantic)

The soundtrack to the ad is Chaka Khan “Like Sugar”. It is directed by Salomon Ligthelm for Stink Films.
Continue reading “Virgin Atlantic’s “Depart The Everyday” TV ad campaign”

Aer Lingus launches Dublin – Minneapolis & Montreal

Aer Lingus is to launch new direct flights from Dublin to Minneapolis – St Paul and Montreal from summer 2019.

London Air Travel

Biosphere, Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal
Biosphere, Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Aer Lingus continues its strong growth of transatlantic routes from Dublin with the launch of two new routes next summer.

The airline will fly from Dublin to Minneapolis – St Paul from Monday 8 July 2019 and Montreal from Thursday 8 August 2019.

Flights will operate daily. Minneapolis – St Paul will be operated with a Boeing 757 aircraft. Montreal will be operated with a brand new Airbus A321 neo Long Range aircraft, in respect of which Aer Lingus is yet to unveil interior images.

Whilst both routes are already served by direct flights from London, Aer Lingus passengers flying to Minneapolis – St Paul will benefit from US Custms & Immigration pre-clearance in Dublin.

There are ample connections to all flights from London City, Gatwick and Heathrow. If there’s one complaint we could make about timetabling it is that Aer Lingus’ flight arrives in Montreal close to BA’s own daily flight. If Aer Lingus had scheduled its flight earlier in the day, then Aer Lingus and BA would be offering a choice of departure times for passengers on a route where they have a lot of competition in Europe from Air Canada and Air France.
Continue reading “Aer Lingus launches Dublin – Minneapolis & Montreal”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 12 September 2018

The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 BST, providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

London Air Travel

Hurricane Florence
Hurricane Florence (Image Credit: CNN)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 12 September 2018, our weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

Hurricane Florence

In the US at the moment, all eyes are on Hurricane Florence as it approaches the coasts of North and South Carolina.

It is currently a Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds expected to reach 150 mph. The states of North Carolina and South Carolina have issued mandatory evacuation orders for many coastal counties. Tropical storm force winds are expected to reach the East Coast by Thursday morning.

Airports across North and South Carolina and some airports in Virginia and Georgia are at risk of disruption.

These include: Asheville, North Carolina; Augusta, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; Charlottesville, Virginia; Columbia, South Carolina; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Florence, South Carolina; Greensboro / High Point, North Carolina; Greenville / Spartanburg, South Carolina; Greenville, North Carolina; Hampton / Newport News, Virginia; Hilton Head, South Carolina; Jacksonville, North Carolina; Lynchburg, Virginia; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; New Bern, North Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia; Raleigh / Durham, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Roanoke, Virginia; Savannah, Georgia; and Wilmington, North Carolina.

American Airlines, Delta, United and many other North American Airlines have issued a weather waivers for passengers due to travel to/from the region over the next few days. Some airlines have also waived baggage fees and introduced capped fares for select domestic fights.

In the UK, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are allowing passengers due to travel to the region to defer travel up to Wednesday 19 September 2018.

Both BA and Virgin Atlantic have this morning extended their flexible rebooking policy to Washington Dulles. BA is also allowing passengers due to fly to Baltimore to rebook.

Although there are no cancellations at present, American Airlines flights between London Heathrow and Charlotte and Raleigh / Durham may be at risk of disruption.

Updates are also available from the National Weather Service.

The National Hurricane Center is also monitoring Tropical Storm Isaac which is currently moving west across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and Hurricane Helene which is moving north west across the Atlantic.
Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 12 September 2018”

Do&Co secures British Airways Heathrow catering contract

Do&Co will provide meals for all British Airways flights from London Heathrow from 2020.

London Air Travel

A selection of BA Club Europe meals - September 2018
BA Club Europe Meals – September 2018 (Image Credit: British Airways)

Many readers may know that British Airways has historically used multiple catering suppliers at its London airports.

At London Heathrow, catering for the vast majority of long-haul flights is provided by Gate Gourmet. Under a concession operated by Tourvest, M&S provides Buy-On-Board food for EuroTraveller short-haul economy. Do&Co provide meals for Club Europe and in Club World on flights to New York JFK. DHL also provide logistics support for catering on short-haul flights, having signed a ten year deal with BA from April 2010.

Today, Tuesday 11 September 2018, BA has announced that Do&Co will provide catering for all flights from London Heathrow from 2020.

Based on Do&Co’s catering in Club World on the New York JFK route, this should be a significant upgrade in quality. Though, of course, like any caterer they will work within the budgets specified by BA.

It should be said that the transition from DHL and Gate Gourmet to Do&Co at Heathrow will be a huge logistical exercise that is not without risk of teething troubles. When DHL secured the BA contract, it made a significant investment in facilities at London Heathrow. Not only do catering suppliers provide food, but also in-flight retail and amenities for passenger comfort.
Continue reading “Do&Co secures British Airways Heathrow catering contract”