BA launches London City – Hamburg from 27 October 2014

London Air Travel » Page 107

Hamburg (Image Credit: British Airways)
Hamburg (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways’ expansion at London City airport continues with the launch of a twice daily service, excluding weekends, from the airport to Hamburg in Germany from 27 October 2014.

The route will be operated for BA by its Scandinavian franchise partner SUN-AIR using a single cabin (so no Club Europe business class) Dornier 328 Turboprop commuter aircraft.

Here is the planned timetable:

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Sunday Times: Virgin Atlantic to close “Little Red”

The Sunday Times (of London) has reported on Sunday 7 September 2014 that Virgin Atlantic is to suspend “Little Red” short-haul flights from London Heathrow to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester.

London Air Travel » Page 107

Airbus A320 aircraft in Virgin Atlantic “Little Red” livery

The business section of today’s Sunday Times leads with a story (subscription required) that Virgin Atlantic is to close its “Little Red” domestic operation from London Heathrow to Manchester, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

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BA to upgrade 18 Boeing 747-400 aircraft

London Air Travel » Page 107

BA In Flight Entertainment - Boeing 747 World Traveller
BA In Flight Entertainment – Boeing 747 World Traveller (Image Credit: British Airways)

In our look at BA’s retirement plan for the Boeing 747-400 we remarked that many aircraft are beginning to show their age internally and are in need of refurbishment.

The good news is BA has today confirmed a refurbishment plan for its Boeing 747 fleet. But for only 18 out of 46 aircraft.

The refurbishment will include the installation of a new Panasonic eX3 (not currently used by the airline) in flight entertainment system which will offer substantially more choice and better reliability than the Rockwell Collins system currently used on the 747, with up to 130 films and 400 TV programmes on a larger TV screen.

The 18 747s will also have “refreshed” interiors which will include new carpets, curtains and seat foam and covers for World Traveller economy and World Traveller Plus premium economy cabins.

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Virgin Atlantic suspends Cape Town, Mumbai, Tokyo and Vancouver

Virgin Atlantic has announced a significant over-haul of its network, suspending a number of non-US routes. Mumbai & Tokyo are suspended from 31 January 2015. Seasonal flights to Vancouver & Cape Town are suspended from 11 October 2014 and 26 April 2015.

London Air Travel » Page 107

Virgin Atlantic aircraft at London Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic has today announced a major over-haul of its long-haul network, in what is arguably the single biggest chance to its network since the events of 11 September 2001.

Virgin’s year-round services from London Heathrow to Mumbai and Tokyo Narita will be suspended from 31 January 2015.

Virgin’s seasonal flights from London Heathrow to Vancouver and Cape Town will be suspended permanently from 11 October 2014 and 26 April 2015 respectively.

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BA’s Business Class Dilemma: How & when to introduce direct aisle access for all?

British Airways is responsible for launching fully flat beds in long-haul business class with its patented “yin-yang” layout. However, its cabins are now falling behind the competition as most of is competitors now offer cabins with all seats having direct access to the aisle.

London Air Travel » Page 107

BA Club World IFE Screen
BA Club World IFE Screen (Image Credit: British Airways)

It was some fifteen years ago in May 1999 that British Airways shook up the market for long-haul business class travel with the launch of its fully flat Club World “flying bed”.

Designed by Tangerine, it was arguably the singlest biggest innovation since the original introduction of business class (which Qantas claims credit for.)

BA Club World Cabin (Image Credit: British Airways)

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Virgin Atlantic worldwide sale – Book by 23 September 2014

London Air Travel » Page 107

Virgin Atlantic Logo (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)
Virgin Atlantic Logo (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic has today launched a sale across its worldwide network for bookings made by 23 September 2014.

The sale applies to all three of Virgin Atlantic’s cabins, economy, premium economy, and Upper Class and to destinations from both London Gatwick and London Heathrow.

Not all cabins are available on sale for every destination. There are a number of exclusions from premium economy (Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco for example). There are no published sale fares for US destinations in Upper Class.

New York is available in economy from £399 on limited flights and days of the week. Boston and Miami are available from £459. Chicago and Los Angeles are available from £479.

Also, travel dates vary by destination and cabin. In most cases, fares are on sale for travel up to either March or June 2015, with a pre-Christmas travel blackout.

There’s more on the Virgin Atlantic website.

BA is likely to follow suit shortly and BA’s fares can be compared using the BA Low Price Finder.

Edited: Please note that since the launch of this sale Virgin Atlantic has announced the suspension of Tokyo and Mumbai from 31 January 2014 and the permanent closure of seasonal routes to Vancouver and Cape Town from 11 October 2014 and 26 April 2015. There’s more information here.

BA’s long farewell to the Boeing 747-400 jumbo

BA is retiring the Boeing 747-400. However, it will still have a presence at London Heathrow for many years to come.

London Air Travel » Page 107

British Airways Boeing 747 Heathrow
British Airways Boeing 747 Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

On 11 August 2014, flight BA78 arrived at London Heathrow from Accra in Ghana. For the aircraft operating the route, a Boeing 747-400 (registration G-BNLI), this was its last passenger flight after more than 24 years’ service at the airline (Source: The BA Source.)

G-BNLI is the 11th 747 to be withdrawn from service at BA. This marks a continuation of a process that started some five years ago.

The 747s were initially withdrawn in response to the financial crisis, but more recently to be replaced by more efficient Boeing 777-300s and Airbus A380s which have seen the BA 747 removed from routes such as London Heathrow to Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Sydney.

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Finnair unveils routes and cabins for Airbus A350 aircraft

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Finnair Airbus A350 Business class cabin
Finnair Airbus A350 Business class cabin

Over the past fifteen years, Finnair has been steadily, but surely, building a niche as the European airline that provides the most efficient link between Europe and Asia via its hub in Helsinki.

In 2000, Finnair served just three destinations in Asia. Now, it serves 15 destinations. Finnair also serves a number of cities without direct links to London including Chongqing and Xi’an in China and Nagoya and Osaka in Japan.

Unfortunately, this has yet to translate into long term profitability for the airline. On Friday, Finnair joined the list of European airlines to issue a profit warning.

However, the airline is committed to its strategy and aims to double revenues from Asia by 2020. This week, Finnair revealed the interiors for its new Airbus A350 aircraft which will replace its quad-engine Airbus A340 aircraft and ply routes from Helsinki to Asia from mid 2015.

The airline has 11 firm orders for Airbus A350 aircraft, and a further 8 options.

The aircraft will initially be deployed on flights to Shanghai, Bangkok and Beijing in 2015. Hong Kong and Singapore will be served by the A350 in 2016.

In business class, Finnair has opted for the Zodiac Cirrus III seat which American Airlines (Boeing 777-300 flights only), Air France and Cathay Pacific have also adopted.

This seat provides both a fully flat bed and direct aisle access for all passengers, which is increasingly becoming standard for business class cabins. Finnair’s seat will also include touchscreen in flight entertainment and AC and USB power sockets. There will be a total of 46 seats in the cabin.

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Etihad to acquire five Heathrow slot pairs from Alitalia

As part of Etihad’s acquisition of a 49% stake in Alitalia, it will also acquire five London Heathrow airport slot pairs and lease these back to Alitalia.

London Air Travel » Page 107

Alitalia Airbus A320
Alitalia Airbus A320

After a long period of negotiation, Etihad has finally announced a deal to acquire a 49% stake (the maximum allowed under EU ownership rules) in troubled European airline Alitalia.

Full details of the transaction can be viewed here.

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BA tactical Winter 2014/2015 long-haul cancellations

London Air Travel » Page 107

British Airways Tailfin (Image Credit: Nick Morrish/British Airways)
British Airways Tailfin (Image Credit: Nick Morrish/British Airways)

British Airways parent company, International Airlines Group, released its half year results last Friday.

The results were, overall, very positive. All three IAG airlines (BA, Iberia, and Vueling) reported increased profits year on year.

However, IAG, did sound a note of caution. The group will moderate planned capacity growth for the rest of the year with BA and Iberia in particular shaving off a couple of per cent of their growth.

In the case of BA, this will not be done by way of route suspensions or cancellations, but by tactical cancellations of flights during quiet periods.

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