London Air Travel's Atlantic Update – 29 January 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

British Airways Airbus A380 Heathrow
British Airways Airbus A380 Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Hello and welcome to London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 GMT.

BA Delays Boeing 787-10 Launch To Atlanta

In late 2019, BA announced that it would take delivery of the first of 12 Boeing 787-10 in January 2020, with the first route being London Heathrow – Atlanta in February 2020.

The new Boeing 787-10 aircraft does of course feature BA’s new Club Suite long-haul business class cabin. The entry of the aircraft into service appears to have been delayed. Online seat maps currently indicate that the Boeing 787-10 will now operate London Heathrow – Atlanta from Tuesday 10 March 2020. However, this may be subject to change at short notice.

BA Deploys The Airbus A380 To Las Vegas

As was announced last week, BA will fly its Airbus A380 aircraft from London Heathrow to Las Vegas for the first time in January 2021.

This is to coincide with the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Schedules currently indicate that A380 will operate the route (flights BA275/BA274) from Saturday 2 January 2021 to Sunday 10 January 2021.

Andy Byford Resigns

Andy Byford has resigned as President of New York City Transit.

Andy was recruited to turn around New York’s rapidly deteriorating Subway system which has long been caught between the dysfunctional management of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City & State politics.

Even though Andy was recruited by the Governor of New York State Andrew Cuomo, the two figures have clashed with the Governor reportedly bristled by Andy receiving public plaudits for having started to turn around the Subway’s performance. The breaking point appears to have been a reduced role for Andy.

News of the resignation was first reported by Politico and Gothamist looks at why this is bad news for New York.

Continue reading “London Air Travel's Atlantic Update – 29 January 2020”

London Air Travel's Atlantic Update – 22 January 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

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

Hello and welcome to London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 GMT.

CMA Investigation Into AA/BA Joint Business

There is something that was been underway for quite some time. It may prove to be insignificant. It could otherwise prove to be seismic.

More than 10 years ago, the European Commission gave regulatory approval for AA and BA (as well as Finnair and Iberia) to have anti-trust immunity to operate their transatlantic joint business. As a condition of this, AA and BA had to make certain commitments slots available to willing entrants on certain overlapping routes between the two airlines. These included a number of routes from London to Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and New York.

In October 2018, the UK regulator, the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) announced it was opening a review of the joint business pending the expiry of the above commitments and the UK’s imminent departure from the European Union.

Who knows what exactly is going on behind the scenes, but the review is taking considerably longer than expected. Last week, the CMA announced it has added Aer Lingus, which is currently seeking approval from the US Department of Transportation to be added to the joint business, to the scope of its review.

AA and BA will be able to say with some considerable justification that joint business has helped BA launch many new transatlantic routes from London Heathrow, where additional sales from AA’s local customer base can be vital to making thinner routes profitable. Nor could either airlines be accused of reducing capacity on over-lapping routes.

However, it will certainly be the case that there will have been intense lobbying by JetBlue to secure new remedy slots at London Heathrow. Norwegian has also sought to secure slots at Heathrow. Airlines using regulatory reviews to secure Heathrow slots for free isn’t new. However, it also the case from the CMA’s work in other industries that it is prepared to flex its muscles and will take whatever time it sees fit.

Meanwhile, the AA and BA joint business continues to operate as normal, but both airlines will be awaiting the CMA’s findings with interest.

Continue reading “London Air Travel's Atlantic Update – 22 January 2020”

London Air Travel's Atlantic Update – 15 January 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

New York Skyline
New York Skyline (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Hello and welcome to London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 GMT.

The Talk Of The Town

American Airlines and BA have provided a little more detail on their plans to co-locate at New York JFK Terminal 8 from 2022.

Terminal 8 is of course well established and houses not only American Airlines but also Oneworld alliance partners Cathay Pacific and Qantas. In order to accommodate BA’s move into the terminal, an additional 70,000 square feet of space will be added. As will five wide body gates and four remote stands capable of handling wide body aircraft.

Given BA can have up to 8 departures from New York JFK in the space of five hours in the evening, there will be some concern that some passengers may have to use remote standards, which would not be fitting for a “blue riband” route.

There’s been much less news on American and BA’s plans for London Heathrow. There was a very vague release some time ago about “big plans” for Terminal 3 which have so far come to nothing.

American has expressed a desire to co-locate with BA at Heathrow Terminal 5, which would make sense, particularly for a route like New York JFK where both airlines are at a disadvantage compared to Delta and Virgin Atlantic who share terminals at both London Heathrow and New York JFK. However, there are likely to be significant process and systems issues to be addressed before American can move into Terminal 5.

The plans for the broader redevelopment of New York JFK are of course a classically American approach to infrastructure investment: celebrating private investment whilst not being prepared to spend public money on underlying problems – namely access to New York JFK from Manhattan.

On that note, the idea of a direct link from Manhattan to La Guardia airport should be welcomed. However, the Governor of New York State Andrew Cuomo is pursuing a proposal, at a cost of some $2 billion, that would result in the majority of passengers from Manhattan passing by La Guardia and then backtracking to get to the airport. This is in spite of considerable protests. (Streets Blog)

Continue reading “London Air Travel's Atlantic Update – 15 January 2020”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 18 December 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

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

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

This is the last edition of The Atlantic Update for 2019. It will return at 06:00 GMT on Wednesday 15 January 2020.

Here’s what to expect from the two main transatlantic joint businesses in London in 2020:

American Airlines & BA

American Airlines & BA will mark 10 years of their transatlantic joint business in early 2020.

In terms of routes, American Airlines will reinstate a daily flight from London Heathrow to Boston from Sunday 29 March 2020.

There has been surprisingly little news from BA as far as its long-haul plans are concerned for 2020.

The commitments American and BA gave to EU & US regulators to secure regulatory approval for the joint business will expire in 2020. The UK Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has opened an investigation in to the joint-venture in anticipation of the UK’s departure from the European Union. This appears to be taking considerably longer than was first anticipated.

American & BA have the benefit of having already secured regulatory approval for their joint business. They can also say with some justification that it has helped expand considerably London’s transatlantic route network. However, given the tough approach the CMA has adopted in other cases, further concessions for regulators can not be ruled out.

Regulatory approval for Aer Lingus to join the joint business is also still forthcoming.

Delta & Virgin Atlantic

Delta and Virgin Atlantic will form a combined Europe-North America transatlantic joint-venture with Air France-KLM in early 2020.

Delta will also return to London Gatwick flying to Boston from Friday 22 May 2020 and Virgin Atlantic will reinstate Gatwick – New York JFK from Thursday 21 May 2020..

Delta will continue to roll out its refurbished Boeing 767-400 aircraft to transatlantic routes from Heathrow such as Detroit, Minneapolis and Portland. Virgin Atlantic will also add its new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft to New York JFK and Los Angeles.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 18 December 2019”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 11 December 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

Pool Club, Virgin Hotels Dallas
Pool Club, Virgin Hotels Dallas (Image Credit: Virgin Hotels)

Hello and welcome to London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 GMT.

Virgin Hotels Does Dallas

Virgin Hotels opens its third property in the US, after Chicago and San Francisco, this week.

Virgin Hotels Dallas opens this coming Sunday, 15 December 2019.

The newly constructed hotel features 200 “Chambers” including Grand Chamber Suites, along with Virgin Hotels’ signature Commons Club, as well as a rooftop Pool Club.

Other Virgin Hotels earmarked for opening in 2020 include Las Vegas, Nashville and New York.

BA Upgrades Heathrow – San Jose To Boeing 747

It’s been relatively quiet as far as news on BA’s long schedule for the summer 2020 season is concerned.

One significant change announced so far is that London Heathrow – San Jose will be upgraded from a Boeing 787-9 aircraft to a Boeing 747 aircraft from the start of the summer season on Sunday 29 March 2019.

This is a fairly substantial increase in capacity from 216 seats to 275 seats.

Also of note this week:

American Airlines has announced new domestic routes from Boston to Austin and San Jose from early April 2019. American is also promising more one-off flights such as Los Angeles – Palm Springs for special events. (American Airlines)

Virgin Trains USA launches a new train livery featuring the work of the late New York artist Keith Haring to mark the opening of the Rubell Museum in Miami. (Virgin)

The case for a high speed rail line from Portland to Vancouver. (CityLab)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT. If you have any comments, suggestions or tips then please drop us a line at mail [@] londonairtravel.com

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The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 4 December 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

Virgin Atlantic, Air France KLM and Delta
Virgin Atlantic, Air France KLM and Delta

Hello and welcome to London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 GMT.

Air France-KLM & Virgin Atlantic

What is going on between Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic?

There’s been considerable press speculation, confirmed by Virgin Group, that it will retain control of the airline and Air France-KLM will no longer acquire a 31% stake in it.

The background to this is back in 2017 when Air France-KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic announced their attention to operate a combined transatlantic joint-venture, Air France-KLM was to acquire a 31% stake in Virgin Atlantic for £220m when the new joint-venture launched. This would have reduced Virgin Group’s ownership to a mere 20%.

This appears to no longer be the case. The way that this has been framed by Virgin Group is that this was their decision and Air France-KLM buying a stake was no longer necessary, given Virgin’s new plans to become a “second flag carrier” at Heathrow if a third runway goes ahead.

This is something of a non-sequitur. Even if Virgin was granted special status on the allocation of new slots at Heathrow, the degree of expansion proposed would require significant injections of capital, which do not appear to be forthcoming from Virgin Group.

(Virgin’s rivals will argue, with some justification, that given its historical unwillingness to expand through slot acquisitions, it has lost any special pleading for different treatment from other incumbent airlines at Heathrow).

The key phrase in Virgin Group’s letter is “subject to contract”. The details do not yet appear to be ironed out with Air France-KLM. Given this is a material transaction, an announcement should be made to Air France-KLM’s shareholders when the details are agreed. And it is to avoid confusion in situations like this that all parties usually agree to issue joint statements simultaneously.

Delta is also holding an annual investor day on Thursday 12 December 2019, and hopefully there’ll be more details of the combined joint-venture.

Update: Air France-KLM has confirmed to La Tribune that it will not acquire a stake in Virgin Atlantic.

Aer Lingus Adds PressReader

Aer Lingus has confirmed that it has joined BA and many other airlines and hotels, in offering free downloads of magazines and newspapers through PressReader.

Like BA, an e-mail will be sent to passengers in advance of their flight. It is recommended that titles are downloaded at home in advance, rather than at the airport or on board the aircraft. More details are available at Aer Lingus.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 4 December 2019”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 27 November 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

Virgin Atlantic, Air France KLM and Delta
Virgin Atlantic, Air France KLM and Delta

Hello and welcome to London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 GMT.

Air France-KLM, Delta & Virgin Atlantic Joint-Venture Approval

The US Department of Transportation has finally given approval for Delta to combine its two transatlantic joint-ventures with Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic into one.

In spite of fierce lobbying by JetBlue no regulatory concessions have been demanded as condition of the new joint-venture.

No timescale has been given by the airlines for the formal launch of the combined joint-venture but a logical date would be the start of the summer 2020 season at the end of March 2020.

This is likely to presage further co-operation between Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic. This is particularly in the areas of frequent flyer programmes and other long-haul routes outside of North America, where Air France-KLM has significantly greater coverage than Virgin Atlantic.

Also in a largely symbolic, but still historically significant, Virgin Group will give up control of Virgin Atlantic (something Sir Richard Branson once said he would never do) by selling a 31% stake to Virgin Atlantic.

On a related matter, Aer Lingus is still awaiting approval to join the AA/BA joint-venture.

Staying with Aer Lingus, the Canadian Transportation Agency has granted approval for ASL Airlines to operate a scheduled service on behalf of Aer Lingus between 1 and 30 January 2020. This is somewhat curious as Aer Lingus does not currently fly to Canada.

American Airlines Summer Schedule

American Airlines has announced a number of new domestic routes for the summer 2020 season.

Particularly of note for Oneworld transatlantic flyers are new Saturday seasonal services from Philadelphia to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and from Charlotte to Martha’s Vineyard. Full details are available at aa.com

“WORLD WAY: The City of LAX”

Film maker Chris Pritchard has made an exceptionally well produced and edited four minute time lapse video of Los Angeles International airport, which can be both immensely frustrating but still captivating.

The film was produced over three years with the assistance of the airport and you can read more about the film on Chris Pritchard’s blog.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 27 November 2019”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 20 November 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

British Airways Boeing 787-9 First Class (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Boeing 787-9 First Class (Image Credit: British Airways)

Hello and welcome to London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 GMT.

BA To Operate Boeing 787-10 To Atlanta

BA has confirmed it will take delivery of its first Boeing 787-10 aircraft in January 2020.

BA has 12 aircraft on order, and 6 will arrive next year. The first route will be London Heathrow – Atlanta from February 2020, which is currently operated with a mixture of Boeing 787-9 and Boeing 777-200 aircraft.

As expected, the aircraft will be in a four class configuration with 8 seats in First, 48 in Club World, 35 in World Traveller Plus and 165 in World Traveller. The First seat will be the same as is currently on Boeing 787-9 aircraft, as pictured above.

Virgin Atlantic To Operate Airbus A350-1000 to Los Angeles and San Francisco

Virgin Atlantic has also confirmed it will operate the Airbus A350-1000 daily to Los Angeles and San Francisco from April and May 2020 respectively. However, these are not yet showing in online timetables.

Virgin has also launched a new codeshare partnership with WestJet at London Gatwick. Virgin has placed its code on WestJet’s year-round services from Gatwick to Calgary and Toronto, and summer seasonal services to Halifax and Vancouver.

All routes operate with WestJet’s new Boeing 787 aircraft, except Halifax which is currently scheduled to operate with the Boeing 737 Max.

Aer Lingus’ Summer 2020 Schedule

Aer Lingus has confirmed details of its transatlantic summer schedule from Dublin.

Some routes will benefit from increased frequencies. Miami will operate 3 times weekly, Orlando 6 times weekly and Seattle daily. Los Angeles and Minneapolis St Paul and Washington will operate with Airbus A330-300 aircraft. All Boeing 757 aircraft will also be replaced with Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft.

Interestingly, there’s no mention of Montreal. Aer Lingus was due to launch this route last year, but it was postponed due to late delivery of aircraft. This route appears to have now been put on the back burner.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 20 November 2019”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 13 November 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

Delta Premium Select, Boeing 767 aircraft
Delta Premium Select, Boeing 767 aircraft (Image Credit: Delta)

Hello and welcome to London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 GMT.

Delta’s Boeing 767-400 at London Heathrow

Delta begins operating the Boeing 767-400 aircraft from London Heathrow today.

Although this is far from the most modern aircraft to cross the Atlantic, Delta is in the process of refurbishing its fleet of Boeing 767-400 aircraft to bring their interiors closer to the standard of Airbus A350-900 and refurbished Boeing 777 aircraft, neither of which are served with by Delta at London Heathrow.

The first refurbished aircraft should enter service this month. Delta’s refurbished Boeing 767-400 aircraft will benefit from a modified version its new “Delta One” business class suites. It promises more personal storage and significantly improved personal privacy with 34 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. 

These aircraft will also feature Delta’s 20 seat premium economy cabin, Delta Premium Select for the first time as well as improved in-flight entertainment..

The Boeing 767-400 aircraft will operate from London Heathrow on the following routes this year:

London Heathrow – Atlanta (Flight DL31/DL30) from Wednesday 13 November 2019

London Heathrow – New York JFK (Flight DL2/DL1) from Sunday 17 November 2019

London Heathrow – Boston (Flight DL59/DL58) from Thursday 21 November 2019

Selected flights from Heathrow to Detroit, Minneapolis and Portland will operate with the Boeing 767-400 from as yet unconfirmed dates in the second quarter of 2020. The one exception is Salt Lake City.

Note this does not guarantee that you will be on a refurbished aircraft. If you are booking flights online at Delta you will see these flights with refurbished aircraft specifically flagged on the booking page with “New Interior”.

Severe Weather

Large parts of North America are currently experiencing severe weather.

In Canada, Montreal and Toronto are no strangers to winter snow, but have experienced snow much earlier this year. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

The National Weather Service has advised that much of Central & Eastern US will experience record low temperatures today. (New York Times)

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 13 November 2019”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 6 November 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

W Hotel Union Square
W Hotel Union Square (Image Credit: Marriott Hotels)

Hello and welcome to London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 GMT.

The W Hotel Brand Plans Its Reinvention In New York

Arguably, there is no hotel brand more marmite than the W Hotel chain.

Founded in New York in 1998, the W Hotel brand sought to be epitome of cool. Not merely a hotel, but a lifestyle brand in its own right.

Promising “Whatever / Whenever” service, W hotels did not have a lobby, they had a dimly lit “Living Room”. Suites were given faintly ludicrous titles such as “Wow” and “Extreme Wow”. Housekeeping would never do something so mundane as simply service your room, they would “style it”.

Many of its rivals sought to imitate and launch their own brands. This even resulted in Hilton having to pay what was then Starwood Hotels $75million to settle a legal action. Starwood had sued Hilton and two former Starwood executives employed by Hilton, accusing them of stealing more than 100,000 confidential documents from Starwood. Hilton also had to abandon plans to launch its own lifestyle brand “Denizen”.

To its enthusiasts, W was a break from the norm and many aficionados would actively seek out W properties around the world. To its detractors, it was a means to command room rates of 5 star properties, without commensurate levels of service. And putting a night club in a hotel, as is the case with some properties, is a sick joke.

The opening of the original W Hotel on Lexington Avenue in 1998 drew celebrities such as Cindy Crawford and, err, Donald Trump. It was rebranded as the Maxwell last year.

The irony is that New York is the city where the brand impresses the least. Partly because of the constraints of New York real estate, and the city’s occasionally brash manner does seep into hotel service. The best W hotels are actually outside the US, such as Barcelona and Montreal.

In its third decade, W is now planning a reinvention. Three W Hotel properties in New York remain. This includes the W Union Square, which Marriott is reported to have acquired and plans to use a test bed for the relaunch of the brand. Of course, there are now countless lifestyle hotel brands, all following the template of public spaces and destination bars. Many are much more humble and less self-aggrandising than the W.

And there is the old adage that if you set out to be cool, that immediately precludes you from being so.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 6 November 2019”