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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.