The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 22 May 2019

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

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Business Class, WestJet Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Business Class, WestJet Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (Image Credit: WestJet0

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 22 May 2019, 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 BST.

WestJet to operate Boeing 787 on Gatwick – Toronto

WestJet has confirmed that it will operate its new Boeing 787 Dreamliner from London Gatwick to Toronto Pearson daily from Thursday 24 October 2019.

This will replace a Boeing 767 and will offer a significant upgrade in comfort in all classes, with WestJet’s first international business class, and new premium economy and economy cabins.

This, with BA also operating the Airbus A350 to Toronto from Tuesday 1 October 2019 will make the route extremely competitive.

WestJet will also extend Boeing 787 Dreamliner on London Gatwick to Calgary year-round, with flights operating four times weekly from Monday 28 October 2019.

As reported last week, WestJet is to be acquired by Onex Corporation. Air Canada has also announced it has entered into exclusive talks to acquire the parent company of Air Transat which would give Air Canada a significantly stronger position in Eastern Canada (and prevent it from being acquired by Onex). This phase of consolidation does leave one major independent Canadian airline, Porter Airlines, which operates from Toronto City airport.

Salt Hotels Opens Asbury Beach Club

Over the past few years Salt Hotels has been building up a small, but perfectly formed, portfolio of properties in North East of the USA.

It has two properties in Cape Cod, Salt House Inn and Eben House and The Chequit on Shelter Island, New York.

It is also opening a second property in Asbury Park, New Jersey, Asbury Ocean Club Hotel on 1 July 2019.

The group does have further expansion plans and it is certainly one to watch.

US Government Withdraws Support for California High Speed Rail

The US is a land of extremes and contradictions.

A case in point is how such an economically powerful nation has such a poor track record on infrastructure investment, which gets caught up in federal, state, and city politics as well as powerful vested interests.

The US federal government has withdrawn $1billion in funding for High Speed Rail in California which has prompted the rail authority to sue the Trump administration.

Meanwhile, Brightline (soon to be Virgin Trains) has appointed contractors for a privately funded expansion to Orlando. Governing has a “state of the nation” report on the development of rail in North America.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 22 May 2019”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 15 May 2019

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

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American Eagle & British Airways aircraft, Miami
American Eagle & British Airways, Miami (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 15 May 2019, 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 BST.

BA London Heathrow Winter Schedule Changes

BA has advised of the following transatlantic schedule changes at London Heathrow for the winter timetable, which officially begins on Sunday 27 October 2019:

Boston increases to 25 flights a week, compared to the summer, with an extra flight on Thursdays.

Calgary is once again suspended for the winter from Friday 25 October 2019.

Dallas Fort Worth maintains its summer daily frequency, compared to 6 flights a week last winter.

Nashville reverts back from a daily summer service to four flights a week, on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Philadelphia increases to 12 flights a week, compared to 10 flights a week in summer and a daily service last winter, with additional flights on Monday and Tuesday.

There are also changes to Airbus A380 operations. For many years, BA has operated the Airbus A380 to Miami during the winter season, with an all Boeing 747 operation in the summer.

Based on current timetables, it appears that the Airbus A380 will not return this year. Instead, it will operate to Washington Dulles.

The big downside is that as Miami is operated exclusively with a 52 Club World seat Boeing 747, you’re not sure what you’ll get as a passenger until you board the aircraft. Some of these have been fully refurbished with new in-flight entertainment systems, some have received a light refurbishment, and others not at all.

WestJet to be acquired by Onex Corporation

WestJet announced on Monday that it is to acquired by private equity firm Onex Corporation, which has a broad portfolio of investments.

The transaction is subject to approval by WestJet shareholders which is expected to take place in July.

There is a bit of history here as in 1999 Onex engaged in an unsuccessful hostile take over bid for Air Canada, and had proposed to merge it with the now defunct Canadian Airlines International. Onex’s bid was backed by what was then AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines, which also owned a third of Canadian Airlines.

WestJet has released a video below featuring comments WestJet President and CEO, Ed Sims taking questions from journalists:

WestJet is keen to emphasise that it is business as usual, specifically regarding its presence in Calgary and employee industrial relations.

On a related note, CBC reports that the parent company of Air Transat has been approached by a potential buyer and the company is entertaining potential bidders.

American Airlines opens Dallas Fort Worth Flagship Lounge on Thursday

American Airlines opens its latest “Flagship Lounge” at Dallas Fort Worth tomorrow.

This follows existing Flagship lounges at Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, Miami and New York JFK.

These are American Airlines’ top tier lounges and are a big step up from its Admirals Club lounges.

Whilst the decor is not radically different from refurbished Admirals Club lounges (non-refurbished ones are another story..), the big difference is in food and beverage. There are self-pour bars and a substantially broader and more generous range of complimentary hot and cold self-service food. There is also a dedicated dining area for passengers travelling in international First Class.

It’s important to add that the Admirals Clubs and Flagship First lounges are not equivalents to BA’s Club and First lounges. American’s Flagship First lounges are open to both Oneworld Emerald & Sapphire cardholders and international business class and First Class passengers.

Further Flagship lounges are due to follow at London Heathrow and Philadelphia.

When the London Heathrow lounge opens, it might not snatch the crown of the best Oneworld lounge in Terminal 3, but it will certainly give Cathay Pacific, BA and Qantas a run for their money.

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 8 May 2019

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

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Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Montreal Lobby
Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Montreal Lobby (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 8 May 2019, 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 BST.

The Queen Elizabeth Hotel Montreal Remembers John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Bed In For Peace”

In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono held a “bed in for peace” in Amsterdam and Montreal to protest against war and violence around the world.

In Montreal, John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their bed in at The Queen Elizabeth hotel for a week from 25 May to 2 June. It was here they penned and recorded their peace anthem “Give Peace A Chance”.

The hotel is celebrating the 50th anniversary with a special package including a stay in the John Lennon and Yoko Ono suite which is, at a very handsome price of CAD$2,999 a night, available to book from 1 June to 31 December 2019.

There are also a number of more accessible events, including tours of the suite and special displays in the hotel’s capacious and very well-appointed lobby, which include sound and video projections.

Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Montreal Lobby
Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Montreal Lobby (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Montreal Lobby
Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Montreal Lobby (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Montreal Lobby
Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Montreal Lobby (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Montreal Lobby
Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Montreal Lobby (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

As for the hotel itself, it underwent a complete refurbishment in 2017. You certainly cannot fault the quality of the refurbishment and the hotel’s extensive facilities. However, the one problem is simply its sheer size. This does manifest itself in a very busy pool area and frequent queues for lifts.

Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Montreal Room
Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Montreal Room (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Also of note this week:

Lyft and Uber drivers are to stage industrial action in a number of US cities today. (Washington Post)

Why Miami Beach is spending so much on public art. (CityLab)

A look at the almost finished Proper Hotel Santa Monica. (Urbanize LA)

Vintage sights of a rain soaked New York City. (New York Times)

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

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 1 May 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

Norwegian Boeing 787 aircraft.
Norwegian Boeing 787 aircraft (Image Credit: Norwegian)

Norwegian Wet Leases

Norwegian has always prided itself on operating a young, fuel-efficient fleet of aircraft.

However, there are signs this week that Rolls-Royce engine issues for Boeing 787 Dreamliners are not going away for airlines.

Data from Flightradar and Norwegian’s website indicates that it has been forced to wet lease aircraft from a number of third parties to cover its long-haul schedule at London Gatwick. These include:

Flight DI7151/2 London Gatwick – Chicago O’Hare (leased Wamos Air Airbus A330 from Wednesday 1 May)

Flight DI7171/2 London Gatwick – Denver (leased Wamos Air Airbus A330 from Tuesday 30 April)

Flight DI7013/4 London Gatwick – New York JFK (leased Airbus A330 from Friday 3 May)

Flight DI7043/4 London Gatwick – Miami International (leased Privilege Style Boeing 777-200 from Tuesday 30 April)

Flight DI7057/8 London Gatwick – Orlando (leased Hi Fly Airbus A340 from Tuesday 30 April)

On this occasion Norwegian does not appear to be giving passengers a choice of rebooking on to alternative flights.

Heathrow – Charleston Returns Next Summer

BA launched its inaugural route from London Heathrow to Charleston a couple of weeks ago, a relatively rare occurrence of a low frequency seasonal long-haul route at Heathrow.

It will be some weeks before we ascertain how the route is performing in terms of load factors. However, based on current schedules, the route is due to return next summer, operating from an earlier start date of 29 March 2020, again on Sundays and Thursdays.

In case you missed it:

BA opens new Club lounge at New York JFK Terminal 7. (London Air Travel)

Also of note this week:

In Canada, large parts of New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec are hit by flooding. (CBC)

The Mayor Of Los Angeles announces a “Green New Deal” with the aim of substantially reducing the amount of driving in Los Angeles, with a target of half of all journeys being made by means other than a car by 2035. Given LA’s huge dependence on the car and prospective transport projects barely scratching the surface, this is going to be a huge task. (Curbed LA)

The New York Subway L line begins its regular shut downs at night and weekends for repair work. (Metropolitan Transit Authority)

Also in New York, the New York Times looks back at the original Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, demolished in the 1960s and replaced by the nightmare that is Penn station. (New York Times)

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 24 April 2019

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

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Business Class, WestJet Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Business Class, WestJet Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (Image Credit: WestJet)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 24 April 2019.

WestJet London Announcement

WestJet has been steadily building its presence at London Gatwick over the past few years.

At the moment it’s operating year-round routes to Toronto and Calgary. Later this summer it will resume seasonal routes to Vancouver and Winnipeg. At the end of April, WestJet will also launch a new route to Halifax, Nova Scotia. This was to be operated by the Boeing 737-800 MAX, but due to its grounding, will be operated by the Boeing 737 instead.

WestJet is also due to operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on London Gatwick – Calgary from the end of this month, replacing a Boeing 767. This will substantially increase its competitiveness on this route, with aircraft having its first international business class cabin and a substantially improved economy and premium economy cabin.

WestJet has been teasing an imminent announcement about London on its social media channels. It is also holding a press event at its Boeing 787 Dreamliner hangar in Calgary today at 10:45 MT / 17:45 BST.

The TWA Hotel New York JFK

The much anticipated TWA Hotel at New York JFK opens its doors on Wednesday 15 May 2019.

It has now published on its website CGI images of its rooftop pool bar and observation deck.

The 63ft by 20ft infinity pool is open year-round and offers views of runway 4L/22R at New York JFK. It is questionable whether this is the best environment for swimming, but the hotel does promise that the water is purified every 30 minutes. Non-hotel guests can also make reservations from Wednesday 5 June 2019. It will also be used for private events.

Also of note this week:

Andy Byford may leave his role as President of the New York City Transit Authority over clashes with New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. (New York Times)

Delta starts work on its project to modernise Terminal 2 and 3 at Los Angeles International Airport. (Delta)

Renderings have been released of a controversial makeover of the Los Angeles County Museum Of Art. (Urbanize.LA)

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 17 April 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

Proper Hotel Santa Monica
Proper Hotel Santa Monica (Image Credit: Proper Hotels)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 17 April 2019.

Proper Hotel Santa Monica Opens 1 July 2019

The US “Proper Hotels & Residences” brand is due to open its second property in Santa Monica on Monday 1 July 2019.

The property, located at at 700 Wilshire Boulevard, is a renovated 1928 Spanish colonial style building originally designed by Arthur E Harvey. It will feature 271 rooms, 3 restaurant-bar “destinations”, and a roof-top pool. Like its first property in San Francisco, the interiors are designed by Kelly Wearstler. Special opening rates are available until Tuesday 30 April 2019.

Two further properties in Austin and Downtown Los Angeles are due to open this summer. Again, both hotels are period property renovations with roof-top pools. A property in Portland is due to follow in 2021.

The Proper Hospitality group also operates the Avalon hotels in Beverley Hills and Palm Springs and Custom Hotel in Los Angeles.

Also of note this week:

JetBlue has announced that its first Airbus A321 Neo aircraft will enter this service this summer. The aircraft will be used to launch a new route between New York JFK and Guayaquil, Ecuador. (Jetblue)

“The City” a new independent non-profit news service for New York has launched. (The City)

“Congestion Pricing Is Coming to New York. New Jersey Wants Revenge.” More neighbourly love between New York and New Jersey. (New York Times)

Ontario Premier Doug Forward has unveiled a CAD$28.5bn plan for expansion to transport in the Greater Toronto area. (CBC)

United has sought regulatory approval to operate a new winter seasonal service from Newark to Cape Town from December 2019. (United)

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 10 April 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

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)

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 3 April 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh (Image Credit: British Airways)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 3 April 2019.

The Equinox Hotel New York Opens July 2019

The US gym chain Equinox opens its first hotel in New York’s Hudson Yards on Monday 15 July 2019.

Designed by Rockwell Group, based on CGI images on its website, it certainly looks good. Unsurprisingly, there’s a strong emphasis on wellness in both the rooms and public areas. The hallmark of a good hotel room is that you should not be able to hear a sound from outside your room. Equinox promises complete soundproofing and blackout blinds.

However, the rooms are very handsomely priced with indicative rates from $1,000+ per night. Even by New York standards, this is expensive and puts the property on a par with the likes of the Mandarin Oriental. The service, which many New York hotels struggle with, will certainly need to match Mandarin Oriental standards.

Equinox Hotels is due to open another hotel in Seattle next year, with Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles to follow.

BA Operates Inaugural Heathrow – Pittsburgh

British Airways operated its inaugural flight from London Heathrow to Pittsburgh yesterday.

Pittsburgh has long sought a reinstatement of a direct route to London and the new route has generated a lot of press locally. Red telephone boxes have also been dotted around Pittsburgh. As is customary local business and political leaders were on board the inaugural flight from London Heathrow. The flight will initially operate four times weekly.

Also of note this week:

New York is set to be the first US city to levy a congestion charge, which will be levied on vehicles entering Manhattan below 60th Street. The exact rate and exemptions are yet to be decided. As is the launch date, which will be no earlier than 31 December 2020. (New York Times)

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 27 March 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

Wow air
Wow air (Image Credit: Wow air)

WOW air Refinances

After Icelandair walked away from WOW air for a second time, WOW air has confirmed that its bondholders have agreed for a debt-for-equity swap, effectively exchanging the debts owed to them for shares in the airline.

This provides a temporary reprieve for WOW air. However, the airline is still looking for a new investor to provide funding. There is also the question of money owed to other creditors.

Summer Schedule Changes

A quick reminder the summer schedule starts this coming Sunday 31 March, which also coincides with the change from GMT to BST in the UK.

Here are some of the major transatlantic schedule changes:

American Airlines launches its new year-round service from London Heathrow to Phoenix from 31 March.

BA launches a new summer seasonal service from London Heathrow to Charleston on Thursday 4 April 2019 and a new year round service to Pittsburgh on Tuesday 2 April 2019.

Norwegian transfers its services from London Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale and Oakland to Miami and San Francisco International from 31 March.

Virgin Atlantic transfers its service to Las Vegas from Gatwick to Heathrow from 31 March. Virgin will also add an additional frequency to Boston, with a new day flight for the return from Boston to Heathrow.

Virgin Trains USA Plans Orlando Link

Brightline, soon to be rebranded Virgin Trains USA, has set out its plans to expand its existing rail link from Miami to West Palm Beach to Orlando.

The extension, which will be financed by a bond issue, will be constructed on a mixture of existing freight lines and new tracks. Virgin Trains USA also hopes to serve a station at the South Terminal of Orlando International airport and enter into interline agreements with domestic and international airlines. The new link is expected to take three years to construct and the journey time from Orlando to Miami is expected to be 3 hours and 15 minutes.

Virgin Trains USA also plans an extension from Orlando to Tampa, subject to acquiring the necessary land.

Also of note this week:

Travelling across the US by train. (New York Times)

Uber drivers in Los Angeles hold one day strike in protest at falling wages. (Curbed)

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 20 March 2019

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

London Air Travel » The Atlantic Update

Marriott Edition Hotel, Times Square
Marriott Edition Hotel, Times Square (Image Credit: Marriott Hotels)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 20 March 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.

Marriott Edition Opens In New York Times Square

If there’s one piece of advice you’d give to anyone visiting New York above all else, it’s don’t stay anywhere near Times Square.

By all means visit once to see the electronic billboards. But once is more than enough.

That may change with the opening of the Marriott Edition Times Square which had its “premiere” last week.

Edition is Marriott’s “modern luxury” brand conceived by Ian Schrager. There are also, amongst others, Edition properties in Barcelona, London and Miami Beach. Another property is due to open in Los Angeles this year.

A common theme amongst all Edition hotels are calming soft neutral tones with design accents. It certainly looks a welcome respite from the chaos of Times Square.

American Airlines Schedule Changes

American Airlines has over the past couple of days put through schedule changes for Heathrow transatlantic flights, some of which have been reported already:

– American’s new route to Phoenix, launching on Sunday 31 March 2019 is now extended to all year round, in addition to BA’s daily flight.

– American will reinstate a second winter flight to Miami from Sunday 27 October 2019. With BA’s 3 daily flights, this takes the joint AA and BA schedule to five times daily.

– American will also reduce frequency to Philadelphia by 1 flight from Sunday 27 October.

It has been reported that New York JFK will be also reduced from 4 to 3 times daily but aa.com is currently showing 4 daily flights.

Also of note this week:

The making of Hudson Yards. Brilliant visual journalism from The New York Times. (New York Times)

Late Post Publication Updates

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The 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