London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update – 3 April 2019

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

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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)

London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update – 27 March 2019

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

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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)

London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update – 20 March 2019

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

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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

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

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

London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update – 13 March 2019

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

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Vessel, Heatherwick Studio, Hudson Yards, New York
Vessel, Heatherwick Studio, Hudson Yards, New York (Image Credit: Hudson Yards)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 13 March 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.

Hudson Yards New York Opens This Week

Hudson Yards, a $25bn mixed use development on Manhattan’s west side that is cited as New York’s most ambitious real estate development since the Rockefeller Center, officially opens to the public this Friday.

Much of Hudson Yards’ towers of office and private residential accommodation will be out of bounds to the public.

However, there will be a new public arts centre The Shed opening in April and an Equinox branded hotel opening in June as well as many shops and restaurants.

There are many UK influences. One restaurant “Wild Ink” will be operated by the Rhubarb hospitality group, it’s first location outside the UK.

The biggest draw for visitors to the city is likely to the Thomas Heatherwick Studio’s structure “Vessel”. Dubbed an “infinite staircase”, the work is a 16 storey, cyclonic shaped structure of hexagonal platforms that spirals upwards. It will no doubt be a source of many thousands of Instagram posts a day. Pre-booking will be required.

Mondrian Los Angeles Refurbishment

The Mondrian hotel in West Hollywood Los Angeles was one of first examples of the “urban resort” hotel.

The Mondrian Los Angeles is owned by Morgans Hotel Group which was originally founded by Ian Schrager and Steve Rubbell, famous of course for running notorious New York night club Studio 54.

The hotel was known for its Philippe Starck designed interiors, “see and be seen” bars, and celebrity filled launch parties. As a guest of the couple of years ago it has to be said the experience for hotel guests was not so great. It’s a very popular hotel for private events. It may have been unfortunate timing but it often felt that hotel guests came secondary to hosting events in its bars and restaurants.

With an experience like that, logic dictates to chalk it up to experience and stay somewhere else next time. However, the hotel has recently undergone a $19m refurbishment and it certainly looks tempting to give it another go.

Also of note this week:

Dirty Lemon opens a shop in New York’s Tribeca neighbourhood where payment is voluntary. (New York Times)

Late Post Publication Updates

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

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

London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update – 6 March 2019

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

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

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 6 March 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.

Aer Lingus suspends Dublin – Montreal

Aer Lingus has suspended its planned launch of a new route from Dublin to Montreal this summer.  

The route was due to launch in August and was to be operated with the Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft. It will now launch on an unspecified date next summer.  Aer Lingus has cited delivery delays as the reason.   Aer Lingus will also reduce frequencies on Dublin – Bradley, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia and Shannon – New York JFK in July.  

This will not help IAG’s relationship with Airbus, where Willie Walsh has previously criticised Airbus for delays to the delivery of aircraft.

JetBlue’s European Ambition

It has been known for some time that JetBlue has ambitions to launch transatlantic services to Europe.

Whilst JetBlue has yet to publicly announce an order for Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft which are expected to be used for these routes, interest has piqued in recent months.

JetBlue has made submissions to US regulatory authorities that Air France-KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic should forfeit slots at European airports as a condition of operating a combined transatlantic joint-venture. This would provide JetBlue with easy access to slot-restricted airports such as Amsterdam and London Heathrow.

JetBlue has also send invitations for a media event on 10 April which has prompted further speculation.

JetBlue has many attributes its favour. It has a strong presence in Boston and New York. It’s “Mint” premium cabin on select transcontinental routes is well received.

However, long-haul operations are fundamentally different from short-haul. If JetBlue is to use a small dedicated fleet for transatlantic operations, it will need adequate recovery measures in the event of aircraft availability issues. When WestJet first launched transatlantic operations, it suffered significant reputational damage due to reliability issues with its fleet, albeit under different circumstances.

What can also be said with confidence is that JetBlue’s competitors will respond. IAG CEO Willie Walsh said of JetBlue’s plans at its Capital Markets Day last November:

And yes, I would say jetBlue is not a low-cost operator. It’s a good airline, good brand, good quality service. But I don’t think there’s anything there that we should be concerned about. We know how to compete. And we know how to compete with new entrants, existing entrants and pretty much anybody else. So if they do, there’s certainly room for them. And it’s a good market and a growing market that we would see, but it’s not something that would be of any particular concern.

Readers may recall that when the now defunct airline eos launched Stansted – New York JFK, American Airlines also launched a short-lived spoiler service.

Should JetBlue launch London Gatwick – Boston, do not surprised if BA launches a spoiler service, as it did when Norwegian launched Gatwick – New York JFK.
Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update – 6 March 2019”

London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update – 27 February 2019

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

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Alaska Airlines, Palm Springs Airport
Alaska Airlines, Palm Springs Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 27 February 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.

It’s time for a diversion from our usual flight path for this week’s Atlantic Update.

Palm Springs has long been famous for its midcentury architecture and as a getaway from Los Angeles for famous Hollywood stars. It’s a city where even banks are of architectural interest.

Bank Of America, Palm Springs
Bank Of America, Palm Springs (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

In February every year Modernism Week celebrates the midcentury architecture of the city with talks, guided neighbourhood tours and self-guided open houses. We were fortunate to attend this year’s event.

As the photos below illustrate there are some truly stunning homes on display:

Palm Springs
Palm Springs (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Palm Springs Modernism Week 2019 Featured Home La Vie En Rose
Palm Springs Modernism Week 2019 Featured Home La Vie En Rose (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update – 27 February 2019”

London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update – 20 February 2019

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

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Flying Over Greenland, February 2019
Flying Over Greenland, February 2019 (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

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

American Airlines Secures Access To The Private Suite At Los Angeles

American Airlines has long offered a “Five Star Service” enabling passengers to purchase access to its top tier “Flagship” lounges and personal escorts at certain airports.

Passengers travelling through Los Angeles can, for a handsome fee, now secure access to a private terminal known as The Private Suite with a dedicated check-in and security screening for departing passengers, and customs and immigration for arriving passengers.

United announced a similar partnership last year. Whilst an expedited journey through the airport is one of the main benefits, this is really aimed at passengers who value discretion and privacy above all else.

In addition, passengers travelling through Los Angeles and New York JFK can also secure a helicopter transfer to / from the airport with helicopter charter company Blade. This can be done by selecting “American Add On” via the Blade app or website.

New Norwegian Routes

Norwegian may be battling to get its finances in shape, but it has not been deterred from launching new transatlantic routes.

Norwegian will fly from Athens to New York JFK four times weekly from Monday 1 July 2019 to Saturday 25 October 2019. Judging by the amount of New Yorkers who head to the Greek islands each summer, this could be very successful if onward connections were offered.

It will also fly from Barcelona to Chicago O’Hare four times weekly from Friday 7 June 2019 to Saturday 26 October 2019. Norwegian will also increase frequencies from Barcelona to New York to daily and Los Angeles to six times weekly.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update – 20 February 2019”

London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update – 13 February 2019

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

London Air Travel » Atlantic Update » Page 5

TWA Hotel Rendering
TWA Hotel Rendering (Image Credit: TWA Hotel)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 13 February 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.

TWA Hotel Opens For Booking

The much anticipated TWA Hotel at New York JFK will start accepting reservations from 07:00 GMT on Thursday 14 February.

Hotels at New York JFK are generally dismal and involve long waits for shuttle buses and an inevitable tour of all terminals on your return to the airport.

Given its convenience and proximity to the airport and the enduring fascination with America’s legacy airline brands like Braniff, Pan Am and TWA, it is likely to command high rates. The hotel’s pre-launch publicity makes much of the fact that it will evoke TWA’s heritage and the era of the jet-set, but with 500+ rooms it will have to avoid feeling like a bed factory.

European Commission Approves Air France-KLM stake in Virgin Atlantic

The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it has approved Air France-KLM’s acquisition of a 31% stake in Virgin Atlantic.

The announcement refers to plans to operate a combined transatlantic joint-venture, but this seems to be subject to a separate approval process. The US Department of Transportation also has to give regulatory approval to the new joint-venture, and JetBlue is demanding that further market investigative work is done first.

Virgin’s American Ambitions

On the subject of Virgin, the Financial Times has an extensive report on Virgin Group’s ambitions for the US.

When the major shareholders in Virgin America decided to sell the airline to Alaska Airlines, Sir Richard Branson could not hide his intense frustration. Apart from the loss of royalties for the use of the Virgin name, it did diminish its brand presence in the US. The Virgin brand has only really “worked” in major English speaking territories.

Virgin is rebuilding its presence with a second Virgin Hotel after Chicago opening in San Francisco this weekend. The Brightline is also due to become Virgin Trains USA this year. Will we see another Virgin America? Probably not.

American Airlines To Operate Heathrow-Phoenix Year Round

When American Airlines announced it was to operate its own flight from London Heathrow to Phoenix from Sunday 31 March 2019, it was initially to be a summer seasonal route. However, it will now operate year-round.

Also of note this week:

California Governor Gavin Newsom has given a “State of the State” speech in which he wants to roll back plans to build a high speed rail link between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Governor proposes an alternative link between two Central Valley cities Bakerfield and Merced. (SFGate)

There is a deadline of midnight EST on Friday 15 February for Congress and President Trump to pass a new spending bill to avert another US Government Shutdown. The last shutdown caused significant disruption to security screening at airports and to damage to parks such as Joshua Tree National Park due to lack of staff. A bipartisan deal has been agreed by Congress but President Trump has to yet to approve it. (Washington Post)

Late Post Publication Updates

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

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

London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update – 6 February 2019

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

London Air Travel » Atlantic Update » Page 5

Virgin Atlantic San Francisco Clubhouse
Virgin Atlantic San Francisco Clubhouse (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 6 February 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.

Virgin Atlantic San Francisco Clubhouse Access

Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse in San Francisco has long been one of its more popular lounges outside of London.

The one downside is that the lounge could only be accessed before security. As of yesterday, Virgin Atlantic has advised that the lounge is now accessed airside in the departures area. You can access the lounge by taking a lift to Level 5 after security.

Severe Weather

Severe weather conditions continue across the United States.

American Airlines and BA have a travel waiver in place for the mid-West region including Chicago and Toronto. Passengers due to travel today or tomorrow can rebook up to Sunday 10 February.

Delta also has a travel waiver for the North East region. Passengers due to travel up to Thursday 7 February can rebook up to Sunday 10 February.

Equinox Hotel New York Opens In June

One of most dismal aspects of almost any hotel is its fitness room.

Photographs are always conspicuously absent from the hotel’s website. It’s usually located in a windowless basement with an odd assortment of equipment and devoid of any atmosphere. It’s a token effort as, unlike hotel bars and event spaces, they can’t be rented out with high minimum bar spend guarantees. Hotels have started to embrace “wellness”, usually with group yoga classes at an unspeakably early hour.

Equinox, which operates upscale gyms across the US and two in London, is opening its first Equinox Hotel in Hudson Yards New York this is June.

Exact details are scant – bar a conceptual film featuring Naomi Campbell – and it’s not yet accepting bookings. Based on Equinox’s gyms this will certainly look good, but will be handsomely priced.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update – 6 February 2019”

London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update – 30 January 2019

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

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Norwegian Aircraft
Norwegian Aircraft (Image Credit: Norwegian)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 30 January 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.

Norwegian’s Dash For Cash

Norwegian announced yesterday that it is to raise approximately £270m from its shareholders through a rights issue.

Norwegian’s co-founders and major shareholders Bjørn Kjos and Bjørn Halvor Kise have committed to support the rights issue.

Norwegian has outlined a number of measures to improve its financial performance, namely divesting, and postponing new deliveries, of aircraft and reshaping its route network.

Whilst the existing Gatwick long-haul network is likely to be spared any drastic cuts, it’s hard to envisage Norwegian fulfilling its previous ambition to launch Airbus A321 Long Range operated routes from London Gatwick to Philadelphia, Detroit and Minneapolis.

Norwegian is to bring forward its financial results announcement to next Thursday 7 February. Preliminary, and presumably unaudited, results indicate a loss for the year of nearly £200m before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. At the end of 2018, Norwegian had cash, and cash equivalents, of £170m.

Interestingly, whilst Norwegian would not entertain the two informal bids from IAG, short of formally putting itself up for sale, it has indicated a willingness to receive offers from other parties.

US & Canada Severe Weather

Severe weather conditions continue across parts of the United States and Canada.

Travel waivers are in place for a number of regions.

American Airlines and BA have two in place. For the North East of the US and Canada, passengers due to travel up to Wednesday 30 January can rebook up to Saturday 2 February. For Chicago, where the forecast today is extremely low temperatures of -30 degrees celsius, passengers due to travel up to Thursday 31 January can rebook up to Sunday 3 February.

Delta and Virgin Atlantic also have a travel waiver in place for passengers due to travel via Atlanta. Passengers due to travel up to Wednesday 30 January can rebook up to Saturday 2 February.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update – 30 January 2019”