London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update – 10 April 2019

A weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 BST.

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Manhattan at Sunrise
Manhattan at Sunrise (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 10 April 2019.

London – New York

The London – New York route has long been one of the most sought after and competitive long-haul traffic corridors in the world.

There is a long list of airlines that have come and gone from this route. And it is about to get even more competitive.

On Monday Virgin Atlantic unveiled the planned interiors for its Airbus A350-1000 aircraft. It will take delivery of the first four of the planned fleet of twelve Airbus A350-1000 aircraft this year and these are expected to first fly to New York JFK. Virgin has not yet specified which of its six daily flights from Heathrow to New York JFK will operate with the aircraft, but this will make Virgin significantly more competitive.

Virgin’s joint-venture Delta partner also plans to operate fully refurbished Boeing 767-400 aircraft on its twice daily flights from Heathrow to New York JFK from November of this year.

Staying with the Boeing 767, after a slow start United is now more a third of the way through retro-fitting its Boeing 767-300 fleet which ply London Heathrow – Newark. This should be completed next year, when United will also start refurbishing Boeing 767-400 aircraft. United should also open a new Polaris lounge at London Heathrow next year.

This will not escape the attention of American Airlines and BA for whom New York JFK is their most important transatlantic route. There has always been a relative disadvantage for AA and BA as they do not share terminals at London Heathrow. BA serves New York JFK from Heathrow with a mixture of 86 Club World seat Boeing 747s and four class Boeing 777-200 aircraft. Only the latter aircraft are to be fitted with the new Club Suite and if history is anything to go by, BA will try to get these aircraft on New York JFK first.

And if that wasn’t enough, JetBlue will make its transatlantic plans known later today.

United MileagePlus to adopt “dynamic pricing” of reward flights

United’s frequent flyer programme MileagePlus is not well known in the UK due to the lack of local Star Alliance partners.

However, it is reported to have followed Delta in introducing a change that is ultimately likely to make its way to frequent flyer programmes based in Europe.

It is reported to be introducing “dynamic pricing” of reward flights from November of this year. This means rather than pricing flights according to a set tariff based on distance specific flights will require different amounts of miles according to demand.

This has been mooted for the BA Executive Club and its timing is likely to be influenced by IT constraints more than anything else. The winners are likely to the “miles rich” members have more miles than they know what to do with, whereas the losers will be the “just about managing” who may have significantly less choice as to how they can use their miles.

Also of note this week:

Brightline / Virgin Trains USA has secured funding to expand its existing rail service from West Palm Beach to Orlando. It has also begun rebranding from Brightline to Virgin, with the rebranded station VirginMiamiCentral opening last week. (Virgin)

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey has closed one of New York JFK’s four runways for resurfacing work. This is expected to be completed in November. (PANYNJ)

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