Thai Airways’ Airbus A380 comes to Heathrow from 1 July 2015

Thai Airways’ Airbus A380 aircraft is coming to London Heathrow from 1 July 2015

The airline will fly the Airbus A380 between London Heathrow and Bangkok daily.
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Qatar Airways acquires a 9.99% stake in IAG

London Air Travel » Page 108

International Airlines Group - Aer Lingus, BA, Iberia, Vueling
International Airlines Group – Aer Lingus, BA, Iberia, Vueling

Interesting news breaking this morning, and proof that aviation is never dull.

International Airlines Group has confirmed in announcement to the stock exchange that Qatar Airways has acquired a 9.99% stake in International Airlines Group.

The news has been welcomed enthusiastically by IAG CEO Willie Walsh, citing the fact that Qatar Airways has recently joined the Oneworld alliance and British Airways has recently started co-operating with BA on areas such as codesharing on Qatar routes from Doha to Asia.

Willie Walsh also cites the opportunity for further commercial co-operation between Qatar Airways and IAG mber airlines.

There is certainly scope for greater collaboration. For example, BA still serves Doha via a stop in Bahrain and the two airlines could explore a revenue sharing joint-venture on routes to and beyond Doha, as BA has with other Oneworld alliance partners such as American Airlines and Japan Airlines.

At the moment there are no changes to the board structure of IAG. Should Qatar Airways wish to increase its stake in IAG, under EU ownership rules, it would be capped at 49%.

Qatar Airways is not the first Middle Eastern airline to invest in European aviation as Etihad Airways has taken equity stakes in a portfolio of airlines such as Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Alitalia and Air Serbia. Etihad also has a codeshare relationship with Air France KLM. Emirates has so far eschewed taking equity stakes in other airlines.

Finally, it is also noteworthy that Qatar Airways has invested in IAG at a time when it’s share price is at an all time high, above 550p. IAG’s share price has previously hit lows of around 110p.

Iberia Express launches London Heathrow – Tenerife & Gran Canaria

London Air Travel » Page 108

Iberia Express Airbus A320 (Image Credit: Iberia Express)
Iberia Express Airbus A320 (Image Credit: Iberia Express)

Iberia’s low cost sister airline, Iberia Express, will launch London Heathrow – Tenerife and London Heathrow – Gran Canaria flights from late March 2015.

Flights to Tenerife operate three times weekly on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Flights to Gran Canaria operate four times weekly on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Flights depart from London Heathrow Terminal 5.

Here’s the timetable:

London Heathrow – Tenerife

Flight IB3603 Depart London Heathrow 17:05 – Arrive Tenerife 21:30
Flight IB3602 Depart Tenerife 11:20 – Arrive London Heathrow 15:45

London Heathrow – Gran Canaria

Flight IB3605 Depart London Heathrow 17:05 – Arrive Gran Canaria 21:30
Flight IB3604 Depart Gran Canaria 11:20 – Arrive London Heathrow 15:45

Flights are now on sale on Iberia.com

Iberia’s International Airlines Group sibling British Airways also flies from London Heathrow to Gran Canaria on a Saturday until the end of March. BA also flies to Tenerife from London Gatwick.

BA flights on these routes tend to be scheduled as morning departures from London, with the return flight departing late afternoon. In part, this to allow the aircraft and crew to do a round-trip in one day. Iberia’s timings work the opposite way and may be more convenient for some.

We have commented recently on IAG’s turnaround of Iberia and an increased presence in the UK is to be expected.

Update: Iberia has subsequently suspended these flights. However, BA continues to operate a year round once weekly service from London Heathrow to Gran Canaria and Tenerife South on Saturday.

BA Executive Club announces changes to earning and redeeming Avios

London Air Travel » Page 108

British Airways Executive Club Cards
British Airways Executive Club Cards

British Airways has today, 28 January 2015, announced major changes to the way members of the British Airways Executive Club can earn and redeem Avios on BA and partner airline flights.

BA’s International Airlines Group sibling Iberia has also announced changes to its Iberia Plus programme that take effect from 1 March 2015.

The changes are quite significant and will impact on members depending what level they are in the Executive Club, what cabins they fly on BA and, for the first time, what type of ticket is purchased.

There are some definite negatives and some positives may emerge in time. It is also important to emphasise that they only apply to bookings made after 28 April 2015, so there is a three month window to make bookings in advance of the changes.

Here’s a summary of the key changes and our take on them:
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Iberia returns to Havana & launches Medellin & Cali in Colombia

London Air Travel » Page 108

Iberia (Image Credit: Iberia)

Some positive signs of a real turnaround and expansion at Iberia.

The airline is to reinstate flights between Madrid and Havana in Cuba from 1 June 2015. Flights will operate five weekly, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sundays.

Iberia will also add Cali and Medellin in Colombia to its route network from 3 July 2015.

This will operate as a “triangular” route, whereby Iberia will fly Madrid – Medellin, Medellin – Cali, and Cali -Madrid. Flights operate three times weekly on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Continue reading “Iberia returns to Havana & launches Medellin & Cali in Colombia”

IAG makes a further takeover bid for Aer Lingus

London Air Travel » Page 108

Aer Lingus Airbus A320
Aer Lingus Airbus A320 (By BriYYZ via Wikimedia Commons)

After much press speculation over the past few weeks, International Airlines Group (parent company of British Airways, Iberia and Vueling) has submitted a further takeover bid for Aer Lingus.

Aer Lingus has formally acknowledged the bid, valued at €2.50 a share with a cash dividend of €0.05 per share.

Aer Lingus say the bid remains conditional on, amongst other things, confirmatory due diligence, the recommendation of the Board of Aer Lingus and the receipt of irrevocable commitments from Ryanair and the Minister for Finance of Ireland to accept the offer.

The key stumbling block to IAG acquiring Aer Lingus will be the Irish Government which holds a 25.1% stake in the airline. The Irish Government will need to be satisfied that links between London Heathrow and Ireland will be maintained and Aer Lingus will not loose its Heathrow slot-holdings.

Here are some thoughts we gathered before Christmas on what may happen of IAG is successful in acquiring Aer Lingus.

Update: Ireland’s RTE is reporting that Aer Lingus may make a statement on Tuesday about the bid.

Update:

Aer Lingus has issued a statement on Tuesday recommending the bid. International Airlines Group has also statement confirming that if the acquisition goes ahead Aer Lingus will maintain its own brand and join the Oneworld alliance and transatlantic joint-venture with BA and American Airlines. IAG will also seek to assuage concerns about the maintenance of links between London Heathrow and Cork and Shannon by entering into discussions with the Irish Government.

BA to move to Gatwick South terminal in November 2016

London Air Travel » Page 108

London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)
London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)

British Airways today, 19 January 2015, confirmed that is to move its entire London Gatwick operation from the North terminal to the South terminal at an as yet unspecified date in November 2016.

The purpose of the move is to allow easyJet to consolidate its London Gatwick operation in the North terminal.

Gatwick Airport has confirmed details of the move.

BA will benefit from an upgraded check-in area and a new lounge facility for eligible passengers. BA has confirmed that a new lounge for eligible customers will be constructed in the North terminal.

As BA’s London Gatwick operation involves approximately 60 departures a day, we expect the move will take place in phases.

Perhaps what is more significant are easyJet’s ambitions once it consolidates operations in one terminal.

easyJet currently has 45% of departure and arrival slots at Gatwick, compared to just 16% for BA. Ten years ago, BA had 30% of departure and arrival slots, and easyJet had 13%.

easyJet has made a number of moves in recent years to move it closer to the traditional full service carrier model, such as offering allocated seating and fast track ground facilities.

The one thing easyJet doesn’t do is interline with other airlines (this is where an airline will transfer your bag to another airline’s flight on a connecting ticket). Nor does it codeshare with other airlines. Nor does it offer connections.

Currently, a passenger wishing to fly from say, Edinburgh to Tel Aviv via Gatwick would have to “self-connect” and buy two separate tickets (and hope for the best if things go wrong!).

If easyJet was to move to a traditional “hub” model offering connections and codeshares with other airlines, this could radically change its position in the market and that of London Gatwick. There is certainly precedent for a low cost carrier to do this, as Vueling does at its hub in Barcelona.

This would of course add cost and complexity to easyJet’s operation (which it may be keen to avoid) but connecting traffic could support many more routes from Gatwick.

One other point of note is that Aer Lingus, currently a takeover target for BA’s parent company International Airlines Group, also operates in the South terminal and a consolidation of operations may allow for greater co-operation between BA and Aer Lingus at Gatwick.

Norwegian launches Gatwick – Kefalonia from 18 April 2015

London Air Travel » Page 108

London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)
London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)

Norwegian Air Shuttle has announced a new short-haul route from London Gatwick. It will fly to the Greek island of Kefalonia from Saturday 18 April 2015.

The new route operates once a week, on Saturdays.

Here are the flight times:

Flight DY2910 Depart London Gatwick 10:15 – Arrive Kefalonia 15:30
Flight DY2911 Depart Kefalonia 16:10 Arrive London Gatwick 17:20

Flights are on sale now.

Take care when booking not to take a very indirect route via Oslo!

BA goes daily on Heathrow – Mexico City from 1 May 2015

London Air Travel » Page 108

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

After gradually increasing its weekly frequency on London Heathrow to Mexico City over the past few years, BA’s current five weekly Mexico service will become a daily service from 1 May 2015.

The timetable for the new daily service is:

Flight BA243 Depart London Heathrow 14:10 Arrive Mexico City 19:30
Flight BA242 Depart Mexico City 21:30 Arrive London Heathrow 13:55

BA currently flies to Mexico City five times a week, excluding Tuesdays and Saturdays. This increases to a six weekly service from April and a daily service from May.

We assume the increase in frequency is driven by a relaxation of the bilateral treaty between the UK and Mexico.

BA’s International Airlines Group sibling Iberia also flies to Mexico City via Madrid up to twice daily. Iberia also offers connections to a number of domestic destinations in Mexico with AeroMexico.

AeroMexico also fly three times weekly between London Heathrow and Mexico City. We have not seen any increase in frequency on their part, which may be due to lack of slots.

The extra BA flights are now on sale on ba.com.

Update: AeroMexico will increase its flights from London Heathrow to five weekly flights from 29 March 2015, flying from Heathrow on Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. At the same time, with the exception of Saturdays, its departure time change will change from a mid-afternoon flight (14:45) to a late evening flight (22:30p). Exact times may very slightly by day.